From the President: Schools, TAFE and the QTU – a big part of this Queensland life
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 1, 21 February 2020, page no. 7
Wherever you are in Queensland, you will find a world class public education provided by highly trained professional teachers and school leaders in schools and TAFE. You will also find the QTU.
Like the rest of Australia, the population of our great state is concentrated on the coast in larger communities. Unlike the rest of Australia, Queensland has a much larger population spread across a very large area, resulting in a scarcity of government services in many communities. For many Queenslanders, their local state school is the only direct engagement they have with the state government in their local community.
More than 50,000 professional educators in 1,250 schools and 50 TAFE campuses serve Queensland communities and, in turn, are served by the QTU. Some schools, like lonely Begonia State School in the south-west, exist where there is no other community infrastructure. School buildings and a house for the staff of the school is all you will find there, and yet this is a strong and thriving community.
Over more than 130 years, the QTU has grown with the state school system. At the end of the 2019 school year, we represented more than 47,300 teachers and school leaders across all schools and TAFE. Our QTU has offices in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Sunshine Coast, Springwood, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and our headquarters in The Teachers’ Building in Brisbane. Thirteen Organisers, often accompanied by Senior Officers, visit schools and TAFE campuses and attend meetings of QTU members every week of the academic year. Our QTU’s Queensland Teachers’ Assist Desk dealt with more than 30,000 telephone and email enquiries from members last year. The QTU also has Officers with expertise in industrial issues and advocacy, legal issues, teacher and principal welfare, and research; and all QTU Officers are teachers and school leaders themselves.
As the President of the QTU, a proud teacher, school leader and QTU member, I have personally witnessed the great work of our members in schools and TAFE campuses from Mabuiag to Mudgeeraba, from Marlborough to Maroochydore and from Mornington Island to Morven and many more places in between.
More than 3,500 teachers and principals hold honorary positions within the QTU’s democratic decision-making structures. All of them employees of the Department of Education, TAFE Queensland and Central Queensland University, working to deliver an education for Queenslanders and ensure that the industrial and professional conditions of their colleagues are protected and promoted.
Australia and its founding states opened the door to true democracy in the community when, in colonial times, forward thinking politicians laid the foundations of a strong, free and secular public education system. With our origins in Queensland teacher associations in the mid-eighteenth century, the QTU was then, and remains, a core element of the system they created and a factor in the success it experiences.
Australia has always had a unique history of worker representation, for many years the envy of the rest of the world. The QTU still embodies the finest traditions of the union movement that established principles of human rights for all workers across Australia and carried those principles forward in the early years of the United Nations. Throughout 2020, the QTU will be building on and celebrating our strong position as the most democratic voice of teachers and leaders on industrial and professional issues in state schools and TAFE.
We know that teachers and leaders in state schools and TAFE are working for all Queenslanders. The Queensland Teachers’ Union is proud to support that work by being there for our members, wherever they may be.