From the VP: "It" and how it has pervaded my life...
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 6, 16 August 2019, page no. 9
A lot has happened in my first 100 or so days as your Queensland Teachers’ Union’s Vice-President, so I thought I would take the opportunity to finally introduce myself to you.
I was born, and spent many of my formative years, in the mining oasis of Mt Isa, which as we know, is such a vast distance from any other large regional area. Its size also makes it a hub for smaller and more remote areas of Queensland. Fond memories of Mt Isa include vast open spaces, freedom, smiling faces, hot bitumen roads and a sense of everyone being in it together. I couldn’t exactly name or describe “it”, but it was a sense of belonging and acceptance.
From there, I had time in Townsville for both schooling and university. Attending a large, regional university was interesting. This was just before the advent of the North Queensland Cowboys. I reflect upon the early days of the community preparing for the start of the competition and the hopes and dreams of that community. I love the fact even now, that the “footprint” of the Cowboys stretches from Rockhampton, to Longreach, to Mt Isa and beyond, and all the way to the tip of the Torres Strait Islands. The sense of “it” was strong in Townsville.
Then to the Sunshine Coast, so close to vast oceans and the hustle and bustle of the capital of this great state, Brisbane. The sense of “it” I found as a beginning supply and contract teacher was found in the wonderful support of colleagues in schools; and subsequently a permanent gig at Caboolture. The car pooling with different colleagues, now life-long friends, was a valued and treasured part of my life.
Then to Emerald. I wasn’t planning on staying long in Emerald. On arrival it reminded me a lot of Mt Isa. Wide, tree-lined roads; vast open spaces and a sense of friendship extended immediately changed my mind about the length of time to be spent there. The Central Highlands also has a sense of “it”. Emerald is diverse, from the industries of farming and mining to the secondary support industries and businesses that underpin the economy and on which the town relies. In my time there, the town saw the dam levels plummet and rise dramatically with devastating consequences. It has also seen school populations explode and diminish as the boom and not quite bust cycle continues. This town has “it”- a resilience and connectedness to each other.
Emerald, like other rural and remote towns, offers professional opportunities to members. And we are lucky that the education profession offers many professional opportunities should you want to try something different. There are year level changes, sector changes, advisory positions, seconded positions, acting positions, coaching, curriculum positions, opportunities in regional and central offices, HAT and LT certification, EST, and school leadership streams.
Union involvement is another level. There are professional meetings, branch and Area Council meetings, input regarding housing, State Council, Conference and committees within the structure of the Union. The “it” was a shared understanding and way forward for those in the Central Highlands. Visits from our regional Organisers, Senior Officers and the legal team kept members in touch with the most up to date of information.
So, to Brisbane. It has been quite a transition from the classroom to the Vice-President’s office, but the “it” remains ever-present: in school visits with Organisers, in the Milton office working with people who at the forefront of their minds represent members with integrity, in talking with our country Organisers, who drive long distances to support and meet the needs of you; our members.
To define the “it” that has pervaded my life, it is a feeling of connectedness, resilience and a sense of solidarity. After all, solidarity is defined as a unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group. Solidarity is about caring for each other; and to have the strength to do that, we must also care for ourselves.
While we don’t agree on all things at all times, solidarity strongly underpins the fabric of our Union – the Queensland Teachers’ Union, 130 years old this year. We are all in it together. We must value ourselves and the work that we do. In solidarity, reach out to a colleague. Are they OK?