From the VP: When enough is enough
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 8, 8 November 2019, page no. 9
As a school-based Union Rep and activist, I thought I had a pretty good idea about the breadth of involvement that the QTU has in issues that concern our members.
Reps know about the working conditions that members should expect; they know how to resolve school-based issues through negotiation or local campaigns; they know about the importance of consultation, particularly through LCCs; they know how to be active, and encourage others to be active, in major industrial and political campaigns such as EBs and elections.
Now that I work full-time in the QTU, I can see that the range of issues that we deal with – both industrial and professional – is breathtaking. There are school visits with members. There are meetings with officers of the department at all levels. We meet with the Director-General, other senior officers of the department and officers in discrete departments to promote and protect public education, and to support our 47,000 members.
We are heavily involved as stakeholders with the work of the Queensland College of Teachers and the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority. We are active participants in the wider community and the union movement through the Queensland Council of Unions, the Australian Education Union and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. There is the legal assistance which is a highly regarded and critical component of QTU membership and integral to the services that we provide. There are the QTU employees dedicated to answering members’ questions, helping them solve their problems, and providing professional development that the department doesn’t.
Issues addressed include workload, job security including permanency, transfers and relocations, student behaviour, housing, rural and remote education, curriculum, testing and data, IT, gender equity, and more. Specific member groups we work for and communicate with include (but are not limited too) school leaders, classroom and specialist teachers, beginning teachers, temporary teachers, associate members, TAFE members, women, and members who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
This is all to make a positive difference in the lives of our members. We have a long and proud history of being leaders in both the professional and industrial landscape for teachers in Queensland - we celebrated our 130th anniversary this year.
In a very simplistic way, the work that we do on a daily basis in the Union is similar to the work done in our schools, by our members every single day. Every day, you go to work and plan and teach and assess for the students in your schools. It’s a very rare person who is in the job not to make a difference. You meet with colleagues on your cohorts, your school middle leaders, your school leaders, members of the community and parents. It seems like there is always something more to achieve in our schools: not only more in our work as education professionals, but also more in trying to meet society’s expectations about what schools should be responsible for. It seems like our work is never done, as the boundaries of expectations stretch further and further.
As we draw this huge year to a close, please take the time to regroup and regenerate over the holidays. You deserve the opportunity to have complete downtime for this break. Make a commitment to yourselves not to hit the books for a period of time. Go to the beach, drink that coffee, walk that path you might not ordinarily walk, read that book, watch that movie. Laugh with your kids, friends, family, your pets. Be kind to yourselves. Because sometimes we all have to say – enough is enough.