Annette Wood

Teacher, Northern School for Autism

When the AEU won the laptops case in the Federal Court, I got money back from the Department of Education … It made me think, ‘Wait a minute, I’ve been paying all this money on a laptop that I was forced to get, in order to do my job!’ Now I get to spend that money on other things!

When the AEU won the laptops case in the Federal Court, I got money back from the Department of Education. I was shocked to see how much I’d spent on a laptop that I only use for work. I actually have a different laptop for my personal life.

When I saw the back pay in my account, it made me think, ‘Wait a minute, I’ve been paying all this money on a laptop that I was forced to get, in order to do my job!’ Now I get to spend that money on something else!

Thanks to the AEU, most teachers now are being given laptops, even the ones who weren’t originally on the department’s laptop scheme. I know a colleague who didn’t have the money to buy a laptop just for school, who’s now been given one. It’s made a real difference to her because if you bring a personal laptop to school, you don’t get the same IT support as you do if you use a laptop supplied by the department. Now she has full IT support and she’s able to install department programs she didn’t have access to before.

Sometimes people have an archaic idea of what teachers do. We don’t just photocopy a whole lot of worksheets and then leave the classroom for the day. There’s so much work to be done outside of school - report writing, lesson planning, curriculum research. Parents also expect a lot more from teachers, so you’re often emailing them outside of school hours. Teachers need to access the internet to do preparation as well as work in the classroom, and you can’t really do that without a laptop.

When I heard about the laptop case win through union emails, it made me feel a sense of accomplishment. I’d always felt like it was unfair that we had to pay for our work computers, but I’d just thought it was something we had to put up with. Knowing that it took the union over a year of battling in court to get this pushed through made me feel really lucky and proud to be a union member.

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