8 December 2021
New Educator Connect - Term 4 update
This special issue of Connect is written by Kate Ruttiman, our QTU General Secretary. It is an open letter to you, our community of new educators, wherever you are teaching throughout the state.
I know two words are not enough. They never can be.
I am yet to meet every new educator, but I know about the work that you have done, and I know the physical, cognitive, and emotional labour that you have undertaken for your students and school communities this year.
Another COVID interrupted year is almost behind us, and our state owes you, and our profession as a whole, an immeasurable debt for delivering continuity of learning and achieving great outcomes for your students in the face of unprecedented adversity.
I know this is not what you signed up for, but each day for the past two years I have seen hearts beating rhythms that are the best of our profession.
The best advice I received as a beginning teacher was: “Do what teachers do, join the QTU.” I think it remains the best advice.
Membership of the QTU is about claiming your space in a community. We are a community at local, collegial and shared professional level, and being a member of the QTU means you also have a place in the national and international workers’ movement.
At the local level, QTU members are represented by your Workplace Representatives. If you haven’t met you Reps, or you would like to be a Workplace Representative yourself, contact your local QTU office, or call QTAD on 1300 11 78 23. QTU Reps are an important part of our community and represent you on your school’s local consultative committee (LCC), which makes many of the decisions at your school, such as when the three flexible student free days will be scheduled in 2022.
Teaching is a collegial profession, and QTU members determine our Union’s policy positions and priorities. I am proud of our union’s democratic structures, and I want to hear what you have to say.
As the General Secretary of our democratic Union, I need you to participate, educate, and activate. You can do this by coming together at your QTU branch (every member in every school throughout Queensland is part of one of our branches), being elected to our councils or standing committees, or joining a special-interest-group. It is members like you who shape the Union’s policies and priorities (which are available on our website) and our advocacy with the Department of Education.
As state government employees, members of the QTU are affiliated with other Queensland public sector unions, ensuring that all of those working in our Queensland public service, including teachers, teacher-aides, nurses, police officers and more, enjoy the benefits of our collective union work. One example of this is the temporary to permanent conversion process, which many early career teachers benefit from. Another is payment of transfer and relocation expenses. Employers, including state governments, aren’t known for giving money away; it was the QTU and our public sector union affiliates that achieved these conditions. Your membership of the QTU helps us to continue the unfinished struggle to improve working conditions.
Earlier this year, I was re-elected as the General Secretary of our Union, the Queensland Teachers’ Union.
I am proud to be the General Secretary of the QTU and I am proud to claim my space in the national and international workers’ movement. The International Trade Union Confederation shares our values on a global scale, advocating for action on climate change, addressing gender-based violence at work, and advocating for human rights. The General Secretary of our international movement is Sharan Burrow, formerly a high school teacher from country NSW. Sharan is a friend of our QTU community, and has been a keynote speaker at our conferences.
For me, membership of the QTU is about claiming space in our community and is so much more than, say, paying a subscription fee for an online streaming service. In the years to come, maybe next year, I look forward to seeing you take up your space in our community.
I said earlier that over the past two years I have seen hearts beating rhythms that are the best of our profession. Now, as the 2021 school year draws to an end, I earnestly hope that you will find the time to let your heart reinvigorate your relationships with family and friends; rest and rejuvenate; and most of all stay safe and well.
Thank you for everything you have done for education in Queensland this year.