I’m proud that the union is supportive of the Safe Schools Coalition. It's such an important program and the fact that the AEU is 100% behind it sends a strong message publicly around what public schools stand for: equality, diversity, fairness.
I've been a union member for 16 years, and I’ve been a union rep a number of times. Whenever any of my colleagues have had challenges, I've always appreciated being able to call the union, especially with issues relating to the Agreement. It’s just great to be able to call up someone who’s an expert, and get advice.
A while ago we had a major issue at school. We had a disagreement with the principal at the time about how to go about providing time-in-lieu for parent-teacher interviews.
We didn't know how to resolve it, but the union supported us in the negotiations and was instrumental in guiding us through that. The AEU liaised between the department, school leadership and the staff and they helped us through a really stressful issue.
I think the union has some fantastic initiatives and resources aimed at promoting and increasing inclusion of LGBTI students and staff. Like the union training on inclusive curriculum planning. I’m also proud that the union is supportive of the Safe Schools Coalition. It's such an important program and the fact that the union is 100% behind it sends a strong message publicly around what public schools stand for: equality, diversity, fairness.
I had one incident where I was working with a school to help them become a member of Safe Schools, and a staff member sent me a homophobic email about her religious views. I joined the AEU Vic’s LGBTI Facebook group and was able to connect with other union members. The sense of community and moral support gave me a real boost.
Eventually with the help of my principal and the union, we resolved the issue. The staff member was very apologetic afterwards. It was so reassuring to be able to reach out to the union at that time.
Our sub-branch is another example of the union community at work – we always know that we can go to each other with our problems, and with the advice of the union organisers and officers, we can find solutions. That’s what the union does – it helps us find solutions.