President Helen Richardson reports back from the first Branch Council meeting of 2016.

At the first meeting of the year in Campbell Town, at the rustic Town Hall, we welcomed several new Councillors to the team.

Lucy Devereux, Nick Clifford and Raymond Haberle were welcomed to the DoE Sector.

Peter Hicks and Lachlan Hine were welcomed to the College Sector and Simone Loone, Damian Von Samorzewski and Philip Waller joined the TAFE Council.

A few sub-branches expressed their concern (via motions to Council) about the costly and unnecessary additional process of registering under the Working with Children Checks. It was resolved that the AEU Council continue to lobby the State Government to make the necessary changes to the relevant legislation to achieve this.

Cosgrove High School requested that Council called on the State Government to account for capping the funding of students with disability, including students in the 55-70 IQ range, and to lobby the Government to remove the funding cap.

Hobart College presented a motion declaring complete opposition to any asylum seeker or refugee presently in Australia being sent to Nauru or Manus Island. This motion was passed unanimously.

With a Federal election imminent (most likely a double dissolution election on July 2), Councillors worked within their electorate groups on plans to ensure Gonski would be ‘front and centre’ as an election issue in their communities.

Councillors were asked to develop their schools’ Gonski story to highlight how the funding would make a difference to the educational opportunities they could offer their students.

Some schools have already developed their ‘own story’ and this has been a powerful resource to support conversations with the school community.

Councillors were also asked to hold a sub-branch meeting at their workplaces to share the latest Gonski campaign information with members and to recruit more supporters to the campaign.

It is vital that Gonski information is shared with School Associations and, as such, Councilors were tasked with speaking to School Associations about the difference Gonski needs based funding would make to their school.

The next few months leading up to the election is a critical time. The enthusiasm of Gonski supporters has driven this campaign since it started and is going to continue to drive it as we get closer to the election date.