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Australian Education Union, Victorian Branch

Australian Education Union, Victorian Branch

news Fire works rewarded

news Fire works rewarded Jane Hayward kept her school going after the Black Saturday fires. Sian Watkins AEU News STRATHEWEN Primary School principal Jane Hayward was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours list for her service to the Strathewen community, particularly schoolchildren and their families, following the “Black Saturday” fires in February 2009. The school, near Kinglake, north-east of Melbourne, was destroyed by the Kilmore East fire. Four days later, Hayward got the schools’ 30-plus students back to school in a borrowed space in nearby Wattle Glen. Students returned to a rebuilt school on the original site in October 2010. After the fire, Ms Hayward’s work included teaching, coordinating counselling services, distributing aid, organising activities to cheer students and helping prepare plans for a new school. The hard hat that students decorated and which Hayward wore on site visits during the school’s rebuilding in 2010 now sits in the Melbourne Museum as a symbol of community loss and rebirth. On the morning of the fires, Hayward visited her parents in Hadfield. As she returned home to Kinglake her brother warned her by telephone not to travel via Whittlesea. He had only just managed to evacuate safely. Taking an alternative route, she was flagged down by her sister at the St Andrews CFA shed and told not to continue up the mountain. Hayward had no idea whether or not her daughter and husband were safe. She learned hours later they had found refuge on the Yea football oval with 2000 others. Hayward’s brother and his family lost their house at Humevale. Hayward was aware she had been nominated for the AM award but receiving a gold-embossed envelope from the Governor-General’s office was still a surprise. “Research scientists and surgeons tend to get AMs, not principals of little country schools.” Membership OVER THE TOP AEU membership has hit a new record, breaking the 48,000 mark for the first time as the EBA campaign prompted school staff to join the union. The union’s membership centre staff were deluged with almost 3000 applications between May 1 and the stopwork on June 7. Some are returning members, but centre manager Glenda Piddington said the majority were new to the union. Only AEU members can take protected industrial action in pursuit of a new agreement. Non-members risk being sued for taking action. EBA campaigns always bring a spike in membership but the rush to join this year has been unprecedented. Glenda praised her staff for keeping calm heads as they rushed to process the applications. “The online joining system has made it faster than entering all that data by hand like we used to do. We don’t have the piles of paper around the office anymore. But even so, it’s been pretty impressive. There’s been a bit of overtime going on,” she said. The award is “very humbling to receive for the work of a whole team,” she says. “I’ve had a wonderful support crew and staff and support from the wider community. It’s been very special for everyone. Staff and the kids and the community have been so excited.” Hayward, who attended Glenroy High School and trained at Phillip Institute, formerly Coburg Teachers’ College, will be presented with a medallion at a ceremony at Victoria’s Government House later this year. ◆ L-R: Membership centre staff Glenda, Lina, Wanda, Leonie, Helen and Judy. “There’s a big group of young teachers coming on board — a lot of students making the conversion to full membership. They want to be part of the campaign and when you see the footage of June 7, you know it’s pretty historic.” Non-members can find out about the benefits of membership and join online at www.aeuvic.asn.au/join. ◆ 8 aeu news | june 2012

news TAFE protests flood Parliament TAFE4All’s e-lobby campaign has jammed the inboxes of Baillieu and Hall Gillian Robertson deputy branch secretary THE message is getting louder, Premier Baillieu — you have got the cuts to our public TAFE institutes so horribly wrong. The TAFE4All campaign is proving crucial in helping working class Victorians tell Ted Baillieu and other state politicians that the public will not cop the massive cuts announced in the May budget. Over 22,000 emails have been sent to local MPs by people disgusted at what the cuts mean to students and communities. Baillieu and Skills Minister Peter Hall alone have received almost 3000 each. The number of emails, sent via the tafe4all.org.au website, continues to grow. The AEU has held 11 regional rallies on TAFE campuses and outside MPs’ electorate offices, including Skills Minister Peter Hall’s office in Traralgon, each attracting hundreds of teachers, students and supporters. We finished in style with 350 people at a Ballarat unions rally chanting “Save TAFE, sack Ted” as Baillieu arrived for a speech at the Rural Press Club. A feature of the rallies has been the number of people coming forward to tell the crowd why TAFE matters to them. Some of the stories have left people in tears. The Aboriginal learning support officer who had been made redundant and was finishing up the following day just wanted to tell people of her concern for the 26 young Koories who would no longer have the study support they needed. The young African man who came to Australia as a refugee, enrolled in his local TAFE for a diploma of community studies, then went on to take a degree in social work. He’s now working in his chosen profession — he would never have done it without the pathway TAFE gave him. The young woman who approached Mary Bluett in tears, telling her that her disability support person had lost her job. The student had lost a friend in the classroom, the person who helped her learn. Another young woman moved from Bairnsdale to Traralgon this year for a certificate IV in graphic arts. She had planned to continue on to a diploma; but the course has been cut, the campus is closing and she’s left high and dry. Every one of these stories needs to be told. They illuminate the barriers to education and training that working class students have to deal with because of Baillieu’s cuts to the public TAFE system. AEU TAFE members are now anxiously waiting to see whether they will be among the redundancies announced. Imagine what it is like working at South West Institute of TAFE in Warrnambool, Portland or Hamilton. So far, 56 SWIT staff have been told they’re no longer affordable. That means 56 families in western Victoria that are going to be devastated, and hundreds of students locked out of education and training. They, like their teachers, are totally bewildered and shocked. Western Victoria is a Coalition stronghold — Denis Napthine, Simon Ramsay, David O’Brien, Terry Mulder and Hugh Delahunty its MPs. Their constituents will not forget what they are doing to their local TAFE, and to their chances of an affordable and high-quality education. South West TAFE is just one of 18 institutes dealing with redundancies. They have advised staff the job losses will continue until at least early next year. Our TAFE4All campaign will hold more rallies in marginal seats, a Melbourne city rally in Term 3, lobbying of MPs at state and federal levels and a return to the regions as well. The issue will not go away for this Baillieu Government. Already, 510 media articles have been written about the TAFE cuts. Local papers know what matters to their readers. It’s more proof that TAFE matters to working class people. ◆ WHO else could be the AEU’s rep of the month for June except … all of them? The extraordinary turnout on June 7 came thanks to the hard work of sub-branch presidents, secretaries, treasurers and executives in schools from Mildura to Mornington, Warrnambool to Bairnsdale and beyond. The almost 3000 new members who have signed up in the past six weeks are also testament to the work our reps have done, recruiting in staffrooms and getting out the message that this campaign affects everybody. Putting up posters, sorting out meetings, signing up student teachers and sending out letters to parents — our reps have been the engine of the campaign. They are the ones who made the trek to Abbotsford to make sure their members had campaign tee-shirts, who ordered banners for them to rally round and arranged the buses to bring them to Melbourne. They are the first point of contact for members in schools, the conduit for information from the union to the rank and file. Without them, stopworks and industrial campaigns simply cannot happen. It’s not just in schools that our reps have been working hard. Our TAFE reps have an unimaginable burden to cope with as cuts and redundancies devastate their institutes. Our disability service reps have been key to our equal pay campaign. So to every AEU rep in every workplace, we say thank you for your work. There is no union without you. ◆ Nominate your REP! Does your school or workplace AEU Rep deserve special recognition? Email aeunews@aeuvic.asn.au telling us who you’re nominating and why. www.aeuvic.asn.au 9

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