Farewell to QTU legend Maureen
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 2, 12 March 2021, page no. 16
Maureen Duffy, who has retired as a QTU Organiser after a quarter of a century of dedication to members in the north of our state, will be a hard act to follow.
Maureen joined the QTU in 1988 when she started teaching in Blackwater, and deliberately chose the 25th anniversary of her first day as a QTU officer to retire.
That first day was way back in 1996, when she was appointed North Queensland Organiser. Back in those days, the QTU’s North Queensland region of the QTU covered a huge area, taking in Townsville, Longreach, Barcaldine and a host of other areas.
As if that wasn’t daunting enough, since January 2002 Maureen has been the Peninsula and North West Organiser, with responsibility for a truly enormous geographic area, stretching from Cardwell just south of Tully all the way up to the Papua New Guinea border, from the sea to the Northern Territory border, and covering places as diverse as Cairns, Leichhardt, Mt Isa, Doomadgee, Mornington Island, and the Gulf.
Take a look at a map, and you’ll see that’s quite a patch to cover, involving exhausting car journeys, often over almost non-existent roads, and even light aircraft flights to some of our country’s remotest outposts.
Maureen’s signature work throughout those years has been her efforts with young teachers and inexperienced principals in remote communities, building activists in the remotest places who would later go on to take what they had learned across the state.
Teacher accommodation and remote incentives and transfers, then as now, were always top of the agenda in those remote areas. Cyclones, community disturbance and tragedy also marked Maureen’s time in the north. She is incredibly good in a crisis, having the experience to back up her good intentions, and has always been there for members when they needed help.
We often talk about the importance of the duality of unions as industrial and professional organisations. And few have captured that as well in their work as Maureen. She has always had an eye to the professional status and standards of teaching, melding that with caring for the industrial rights and entitlements of her members.
Now Sammy Blocksidge has the unenviable task of stepping in to Maureen’s shoes! Meanwhile, Maureen Duffy will go down as a legend of our Union, and her influence will linger long, particularly in the north. We wish her a wonderful retirement with her partner Warwick. Seldom has it been so richly deserved.