Keeping it in the family: the Creedons
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 7, 27 September 2019, page no. 22
To mark the QTU's 130th anniversary, we meet another family who are Union through and through – this time, the Creedons.
You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that family history repeats itself down through the generations in our family, in both union activism and in teaching.
We have relations who over the years had been in the teaching profession since the 1930s. Robert and Carol were both classroom teachers until their retirement (and are still doing relief teaching in their spare time) and their daughter Kelly Creedon became a teacher in 2007.
Unionism and political activism on both sides of our family have influenced us and now our daughter Kelly’s involvement in the QTU. We grew up with family stories about workplaces, work conditions, awards etc, so naturally it flowed on.
Carol’s ancestry goes back to William Jolly (Member of the Australian Parliament in 1937-1943 and the first Lord Mayor of Brisbane). Rob’s side of the family goes back to Samuel Brassington (MLA for Balonne1927-1932 and Fortitude Valley 1933-1950), a staunch Labour Party member and Union Official as well as Speaker of the Queensland Parliament 1944-1950.
Carol’s father, John Nicholson, held union positions in the Printing and Kindred Industry Union (PKIU) from the 1940s, starting as workplace union rep and eventually becoming Australian President of the PKIU.
With this family history, it was not surprising that we became union activists for more than 40 years of our teaching career. Combined, we have more than 88 years of union involvement.
With a father heavily involved in unions of course influenced Carol to become involved in the QTU straight out of college. Rob’s first involvement in unions was during teacher training at Kedron Park Teachers’ College.
We both started attending branch meetings in Brisbane while teaching and studying. From Brisbane, we were both transferred to Moranbah, where we met up with Union members John and Karen Battams, Michael Gillam, and Marg and Terry Woodford.
At our very first Moranbah QTU meeting in 1981, Rob was elected Vice-President of the branch and Carol was elected Secretary and Treasurer. As they say, the rest is history, as we soon became heavily involved in the 1981 teachers’ strike over locality allowance and rentals.
From here we taught all over the state, including a transfer back to Brisbane where we had our first daughter Kelly. From here we moved up north, where Rob became a teaching principal in Far North Queensland and we had our second daughter Katie. We finally transferred to Hervey Bay in 1990, where we remained until our retirements.
On arrival, we were both on the road again, attending branch meetings in Maryborough as Hervey Bay did not have a branch at that time. This was quickly remedied when we applied for a new branch to be set up. This came to fruition in 1990. Rob was elected President of this new branch, a position he held on and off for most of our 24 years in the Bay, and was also State Council Representative until retirement in 2013.
During the 1990s, Labour Day marches in Maryborough were considered a family outing for our children Kelly, Katie and Ryan. Bearing placards, holding banners while dressed in the blue and teal of the QTU were a norm for us. So it was not a surprise for us to see Kelly organising Labour Day marches once she became active in the union movement.
Kelly is now proudly a Regional Organiser for the QTU. It was her family upbringing and history that got her involved in the QTU to start with, but it quickly turned into a passion once she became involved in regional and local campaigns and saw the effects that union activism could bring for not only herself but her colleagues across the state and country.
It has been a privilege and an honour to be QTU members from the beginning of our teaching careers. It has been so satisfying to see young teachers, including our own daughter Kelly, especially on her posting to Weipa, become involved and benefit from the industrial gains obtained by the QTU since its inception in 1889.