TRAPSA well and truly launched
The QTU, like many unions, has long held progressive views on human rights and environmental issues. At the QTU Biennial Conference in 2015, members moved to create a special interest group to promote a compassionate approach to refugees and students in Queensland schools who are seeking asylum and their families.
The outcome was the Teachers for Refugees and People Seeking Asylum (TRAPSA) special interest group. Founded on principles of the collective and inclusivity, like all good union creations, TRAPSA went one step further by innovating with a co-convener arrangement involving teachers and friends in the non-government school sector, represented by the Independent Education Union Australia (Queensland and Northern Territory Branch). Initial meetings discussed mundane issues, such as terms of reference and procedural questions arising from the construction of two unions with different democratic processes, and more colourful matters such as the logo design for the group.
The discussions led to a clear focus on working for students and schools rather than being overly ambitious and attempting to solve the global issues of refugees and people seeking asylum. We all know that actions speak louder than words, so it has been that TRAPSA and the sponsor unions became engaged in a range of activities.
- The #FreeMojgan campaign led by the staff at Yeronga State High School, including a one-hour stop-work action by QTU members at the school in support of the campaign.
- The baby Asha vigil in early 2016, which saw a strong presence from TRAPSA representatives.
- TRAPSA members marched with the group banner in the 2016 Labour Day parade.
- TRAPSA has been present at rallies and marches for events such as the Walk for Welcome and Bring Them Here.
- IEU members around the state have undertaken a major collection of resources, such as books and stationery, to provide to students.
- Sub-groups are being discussed around the state as interested union members ask for a voice on these issues.
After a full year of operation and with a number of significant activities under its belt, TRAPSA was ready for its official launch. Cue a warm summer’s night, 100+ people, live music, pizza, drinks and an empowering spirit of humanity. These ingredients combined to make a fitting celebration of what good people can do when they stand together to oppose ignorance and intolerance.
While the launch was an opportunity to acknowledge the outcomes achieved to date, it was also a chance to meet and celebrate the release of Mojgan Shamsalipoor from immigration detention. Mojgan spoke passionately about her time in detention and the hope she found in the knowledge that people in the Australian community were prepared to stand up for her and other refugees and people seeking asylum. We can and should do no less.
Visit www.qtu.asn.au/trapsaqld to join TRAPSA, and encourage your teacher friends and family to do so as well.
Kevin Bates QTU President
Lin Esders QTU Organiser
Aaron Watson IEU-Q&NT Organiser
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 1, 10 February 2017, p12
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