Meet Branch Councillor (and Executive member) Elizabeth Osborne – a teacher at New Town Primary.
Branch Council’s collective decisions reign supreme so it’s a good idea you get to know your local Councillor. Branch Council meets each Term to debate, discuss and endorse policy. Councillors represent you so you’re strongly encouraged to share your views, ideas and proposals for motions with them.
Do you have a favourite place? My favourite place is walking on Mount Wellington.
How did you get into education? I’ve always been an idealist. I hoped I could be the change I wanted in society, to change lives by giving the opportunities education offers. And the holidays were very attractive.
What couldn’t you live without and what are your three favourite things? I couldn’t live without my morning coffee. Favourite things are 1. Socialising with friends, especially long lunches. 2. A relaxed weekend brunch. 3. Weight training – I love the challenge of lifting weights. I love being strong.
Thinking about your workplace, if you had a magic wand what would you wish for? More support for children with additional needs. I wish kids were funded to support their success in education by need, not a formula that sets the bar way too high. I wish primary teachers had the same non-contact time as their secondary colleagues. I wish funding education was as highly valued by the government as funding the army.
Why union? Same reason I’m in education – I want to change a society where inequality is entrenched. Fair go for all! Strength in unity, working together we can effect change.
How do you like to wind down and relax? Go for a long walk with my dogs. Hit the gym, hit the weights. Read.
What are you currently reading? Currently reading Colin Toibin, Brookyln. I love detective stories, and have just discovered Benjamin Black, the pen name for John Banville. Dark stories set in 1950s Dublin – very evocative.
If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be and what would you eat? I’d like to ask Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She was important in giving slavery a face. Lincoln said she caused the American Civil War! We’d eat a long lunch of anti-pasta, roast, cheeses, chocolate pudding and lots of wine.
What’s a defining moment in your life? Teaching on the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory. It was a huge culture shock. I taught in a bi-lingual school with a Tiwi co-teacher who interpreted and helped explain cultural differences. Then, I had twins at 23. Not what I planned! Having children gave me a completely different understanding of the world.
Give us tips about dealing with kids. Kindness, consistency, humour and every day is different. The most important rule is, there are no real tips as each kid, and each time and place is unique. Young children particularly have limited prior experiences to compare what is happening in their life.
Who inspires you? People who work for social justice, like Yabbo Thomson. She does not seek to draw attention to herself as she works in many different ways for social justice. She works locally to be the change she wants in the wold. She teaches refugees English, organises rallies and protests on such important issues as the refugees detained on Nauru. She gives freely of her time and herself to make the world a fairer place.
Why did you become a Councillor? I was angry that kids with additional needs were (and still are) often given a bum steer, inadequately funded and their efforts not acknowledged. I was angry education workers were (and are) expected to operate on their good will to meet the shortfall of Government funding. Many burn out in the process.
What is it about working with kids that gets you out of bed each morning? The kids’ sense of humour, their openness to life. I love the fact that no year group, no child, is the same so the day is never predictable. It can be a hard slog in the classroom, but there are moments of cracking it that are unreal.
What do you daydream about? I daydream of a time when everyone, whatever their start in life, their parents and where they are born, can have every opportunity to reach for the sky and be their best. When teachers are valued so much they are paid the same wages as AFL players. I daydream that I can age without wrinkles and never gain weight, however many chocolates I eat.