Our fantastic Southern Organiser Terri Coombes says farewell and thanks for a great year. We wish you well in your return to teaching Terri!

2017 has been a very interesting and fabulous year for me at the AEU.

My position as the Southern Organiser has seen me travel out and about in most of the schools in our Southern region. I have thoroughly enjoyed the many wonderful conversations I have had with our amazingly dedicated and passionate educators.

I began conversations with you all around the roll out of the Teachers EB agreement in May. Although not everyone was happy with our 2% pay rise there were some good wins for our Teachers at the beginning of their careers. There has also been some good wins for those who have been around for a while with the creation of the new Band 1 level 13. This took a large percentage of our members off the bottom of the national pay scale which was a great win for us. I know that there is still much to be done in this space particularly with our Senior Staff pay levels and the equity issue around non-contact hours for Primary Teachers. Both items are on the agenda at the next Branch Council meeting where the issues will be discussed and voted on for inclusion in the log of claims which goes to the Minister’s Department in June 2018.

Term two and three saw us deeply involved with our members in gathering data and information around our workload issue. This was identified as the number one biggest concern for educators in their workplaces across all sectors- a very unifying issue! A large number of members participated in our ACER Workload survey and in the many Workload Reference Groups that were held across all sectors around the state. Once again, I was impressed by the passion and dedication that our educators feel for making a difference in their students’ lives. Most often at the great cost of their own time and personal lives. This was an exciting time as the reference groups were focussed on solutions. And it was from our member participation in these forums that our Quality Education Campaign was born.

This last term of 2017 has been a whirlwind of campaign launches, cakes, photos, pledges, media hype and Facebook posts. As many of you know we are asking for more teachers, teacher assistants and admin staff as well as specialist support staff such as psychologists to help us meet the growing demands of our workplaces. Our ‘Week of Action’ saw growing support for our campaign amongst our members and staff in schools. Everyone was keen to get stickered up and photographed with almost 100 schools around the state taking part. We also took it the streets with some terrific ‘wobble board’ and ‘honkathon’ action. If you have never had a chance to do this, I recommend you look for an opportunity. It is really great fun!

So, my time working as an Organiser comes to an end in December and I would like to wish everyone in our union family a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas and holiday with your other families and loved ones. I am looking forward to a lovely break with my family down at the shack and I am excited to be teaching a grade 1 / 2 class in 2018 as well as continuing my work with our union through my involvement on Branch Council. I would recommend to anyone who is interested not only to have a go at ‘wobble boarding’ but also to be involved with our Union in any way you can.