From the VP: What I learned in six weeks…
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 5, 27 July 2018, p4
As Honorary Vice-President living and working 750 kilometres from the hub of our Union, the Milton office, I feel that I have spent many years on the edge of the action.
Having been involved as State and Area Council Rep, Trustee, on committees, on Executive and as HVP, I have been and am privy to many emails, documents, and happenings within and without the QTU, so when I was asked to act as Vice-President and come to the office for seven weeks, I was excited to be part of the action in the flesh. I knew there was a lot I didn’t know.
Settling in was not that easy because the office is a busy place and internal and Senior Officers are often hard at work elsewhere. There are very few catch-ups in the hall ways, very few lunches, and very few meetings, unless they are scheduled in calendars.
But if the officers are not there, where are they? With so many portfolios that cover teachers’ working conditions and social issues that affect our students and schools, each officer is meeting with, discussing and arguing with personnel from the department and associated bodies, and constantly advocating for the outcomes that our members identify as important to us as a profession.
The constant proactive and reactive conversations and activities include research; responses to state and federal budgets, academic documents and the greatest new idea of the moment foisted upon our profession; training of Union Reps, Principal Union Reps and activists; travel and reporting on meetings; preparation and communication of the outcomes of the meetings and negotiations; attendance and involvement in promotional and other panels, and, as importantly, attending to the many calls from members who have queries and urgent concerns.
And then there is the media! Being aware of and responding to the good, the bad and the ugly is very time consuming and important for our profession.
I have learned that working with and beside each of the regional, internal and Senior Officers is a band of dedicated and amazing people who ensure that the workplace is safe, documents are prepared, travel arrangements are made, your calls are answered, visitors are cared for, IT is working, training is ready to happen, bills are paid, and everyone has what they need to do their job.
I have learned that our Union is essential to our professional wellbeing and working conditions, that there is a constant struggle for and a constant celebration of outcomes achieved.
I have learned that we take a lot for granted and that each of us in our own school in our own part of the state is important to the machinations of the Union; that each of our 45,000 plus members has the voice and opportunity to support and be supported by each other; that you are not alone; that the training to use your voice is made available through the Union; and that it is up to us to help ourselves and each other.
We have passionate, strong, knowledgeable leaders and strong knowledgeable support staff a phone call or email away. We have the ability to use our voice and be brave in stepping out and being active in informing and guiding our leaders and being part of the planning for the future and the solutions of the present, but it is up to us.
And I have learned that there is still so much to do.