ACT Educator Term 4 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The assertions and opinions expressed in articles reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the AEU. We do, however, think that these issues are worthy of discussion in our union. Authorised by Glenn Fowler for the Australian Education Union ACT Branch



Bonython Primary School principal Greg Terrell talks about why we need to fight for a better alternative to NAPLAN (page 14).





Angela Burroughs


Trina Cleary
















Paige Wells

Greg Terrell

Sarah Warren

Lori Korodaj with Norma John, Louise McMullen & Holly Godfree

Karen Noble





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2020 TERM 4 Upcoming Events WEEK 1

BRANCH EXECUTIVE Wednesday 14 October 5.00pm - 8.30pm The Kurrajong Room Hotel Kurrajong, Barton ACT ELECTION Saturday 17 October

WEEK 2 BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday 24 October 9.00am - 12.00pm Venue TBC


BRANCH EXECUTIVE Wednesday 11 November 5.00pm - 8.30pm UWU Board Room, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton



SCHOOL ASSISTANT NETWORK MEETING (North side) Wednesday 18 November 3.30pm - 4.00pm Online BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday 21 November 9.00am - 12.00pm Venue TBC

WEEK 7 SCHOOL ASSISTANT NETWORK MEETING (South side) Wednesday 25 November 3.30pm - 4.00pm Online


BRANCH EXECUTIVE Wednesday 9 December 5.00pm - 8.30pm CPSU Meeting Rooms, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton

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Consider our PDS to determine the product’s appropriateness to you before making a decision. Issued by Aware Super Pty Ltd ABN 11 118 202 672, AFSL 293340, trustee of Aware Super ABN 53 226 460 365. Financial planning advice is provided by Aware Financial Services Australia Limited ABN 86 003 742 756 AFSL No. 238430. A wholly owned company of Aware Super Pty Ltd. *The total annual fee (inclusive of admin and investment fees) for our Growth option is 1.10% p.a., the industry average is 1.43% p.a., Chant 5 West Super Fund Fee Survey, March 2020, based on a $50,000 balance in a Growth option.^Our Accumulation Fund Growth option delivered a 10 year return to 31 May 2020 of 7.77% (SuperRatings Fund Crediting Rate Survey for the SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index), compared to the 10 year return of the Super Ratings SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index median (50 funds) of 7.13% for the same period. Returns are net of investment fees, tax and implicit asset-based administration fees. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.


As a member of the 2020-2024 ACT Legislative Assembly,


Put public education first.

The incoming government must realise that the primary obligation of government is to public education.

Prioritise public school funding.

The incoming government must commit to indexation funding of at least 3% per annum plus student enrolment growth, and maintain current funding levels to all ACT public schools in real terms, at least until all ACT private schools are transitioned down to 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

Make all learning spaces temperature-controlled and smoke-free.

The climate is changing, and the incoming government must ensure that learning conditions for students and working conditions for educators are not compromised. All indoor learning spaces must be between 17 and 30 degrees at all times, appropriately ventilated, and smoke free.

Fight for the right student assessment, not NAPLAN.

Teachers on the whole do not support NAPLAN. The incoming government must push hard at the national level for NAPLAN’s abolition and for a way of assessing that has teachers at the design stage and the best interests of students at heart.

Cap class sizes, without exception.

The incoming government must immediately provide the resources to negate the need for any exceptions to the agreed class size maximums in schools.

Make sure every public school has great school library services, in a purpose-built facility staffed on a full-time basis by fully qualified teacher-librarians and support staff.

Bring CIT into the Education portfolio.

CIT is a public education institution and it should be the responsibility of the Education Minister. Further, the AEU is the voice of CIT educators and it needs a designated seat on the CIT board.


This is the seven-point Public Education Pledge we asked all the major parties to sign. Turn over to read our members talk about why these issue are so important, and to see the parties' responses.


Put public education first. Angela Burroughs Branch President



he ACT has the fastest-growing public education system in the country. The government’s focus on innovation and investment must direct public resources to the public system, not the so called ‘private’ system that is more than adequately supported by the Federal Government. Now is the time, more than ever, to put public education first. Families are doing it hard. I was recently speaking to a principal whose school is providing food parcels for families. Our public schools are neither resourced nor required to provide these essential social services. We do it because we are decent, compassionate and generous. We do it because we recognise that behaviours and life experiences do not magically dissipate when a student crosses the threshold of the school gate. We do it because we value education and know that a good education is about the whole student. We value wellbeing and learning. We look at the bigger picture and the long term prospects. What skills, attributes and values will a person need to successfully navigate the future? We value diversity and inclusivity. We take a stand against racism and bullying. We admit that violence occurs in our schools, as it does in society, and we are doing something about it. We stand up for causes that matter, such as students for climate action and Wear it Purple Day, which raises awareness about and supports LGBTIQA+ young people. In Australia it is unfortunate that we cannot simply campaign to put education first. We have to keep advocating for public education because our school education system, unlike almost any other in the western world, has been politically compromised over many decades. The unfair playing field that the Federal Government has cultivated that unashamedly overfunds the Catholic and private school sectors means that it is more important than ever to ensure our local representatives will put public education first. School funding is a major aspect of the skewed approach to school education policy in Australia. The other is the insidious reputational damage to public education. This is epitomised by Kate who, in an ABC News article explains why she sends her son to the local Catholic school: "I grew up in a divorced family, public housing, public school, so I made sure that I worked really hard…to be able to afford to send him somewhere better…"

The article is entitled ‘How the Catholic school system takes from the poor to give to the rich’ (published 2/9/20). It is about how ‘hundreds of NSW Catholic schools are missing out under a scheme that will have diverted more than $300 million in public funding’ from ‘poor’ Catholic schools to ‘rich’ ones. As much as I am infuriated by the government hand out of $300 million in public funds – imagine what the public system could deliver with that quantum of guaranteed funding – I am more enraged by the suggestion that public schools are inferior. This is a wicked and deliberate ploy in school funding debates that positions school education as a commodity where price is portrayed as a de facto variable for quality. The evidence just does not support this. And, quite frankly, it shouldn’t matter. All education should be good education. It is imperative that as proud educator unionists we explicitly advocate for putting public education first. We cannot allow the misconceptions typified by Kate’s comments to taint public education. In this ACT election edition of the ACT Educator, candidates are assessed against seven items determined by Branch Council that are of most importance to our members. The first item is to put public education first. As states and territories are the primary providers of public education, it is almost absurd that this is our number one pledge. It should go without question that the ACT government fulfils its responsibility to public education. Our current education minister, Yvette Berry, demonstrates this by her actions. At every opportunity the minister promotes the work of our public school system, its teachers and support staff. Yvette Berry proudly sends her own kids to public schools. She values the contribution of the AEU and respects its role in representing the interests of its more than 4200 members. Yvette Berry works with us. Negotiations over pay and conditions, and most recently over responses to COVID, make us the envy of all other education jurisdictions. We have a minister who talks to us and listens to us. This isn’t a given for ministers of either political persuasion. Take a look at the candidate profiles in the pages that follow. Our union exists to foster, protect and promote the interests of public education. As an AEU member, exercise that responsibility by putting public education first when you vote in the ACT election.



y Auntie Pearl told me, “Look after your pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves.” Well, we sure have been counting our pennies carefully lately, and they still just don’t add up to the pounds we need. It seems the only way to give the kids what they need for a “fair go” these days is for schools to go into debt. Ask any educator if the needs of students in our public schools are going up or down, they’ll say up. Probably loudly! Then ask them what would help those students, and the answer becomes longer: assistant educators to support integration; school psychologists to address escalating mental health challenges; alternative program and spaces for social and emotional learning; social workers and wellbeing officers to support the increasing numbers of students and families experiencing trauma; resources for inquiry; fully equipped specialist classrooms for music, art and science; a teacher librarian (not to mention a library) in each school; enough safe playgrounds and grassy playing fields to cater for each school’s actual enrolment; better wi-fi and devices for each student and staff member; adequate technical support on-site for schools; more EALD specialists and IEC resourcing and administrative support for school leaders. Yet against this background of need, decreases in territory government funding for public schools are looming. Now, please don’t let your eyes start glazing over at the numbers ahead; it’s important maths. With the Federal Government guaranteeing only 20% (by 2023) of the money needed for each public school student to be funded at the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), the territory government has to chip in 80%. This funding has to keep up with indexation and enrolment growth so that public schools receive the SRS in real terms. At the same time, the Federal Government has committed to providing 80% of the SRS to private schools, with state and territory governments expected to fill the 20% gap, also by 2023. Private schools that are overfunded won’t transition down to 80% until 2029. Add to that bounty the additional top-ups to private schools announced by the Morrison Government last year, which total $229 million for Catholic schools and $180 million for Independent schools over ten years from 2020, and ask yourself when the top-ups for public schools are coming!


ACT private schools are currently well overfunded by both the territory government (33.6% instead of 20%) and Federal Government (111.7% instead of 80%), whilst public schools are sitting at 17.4% (federally funded) and 90.1% (territory funded). While this might initially look good for ACT public schools, at a total of 107.5% of SRS, the ACT Government’s plan is to wind down their contribution to the mandatory 80% (from 90.1%) by 2023. This is despite public schools doing the lion's share in terms of managing greater student needs, and the stark reality that our public schools need every cent we can get. The ACT Government’s plan to trend down overfunding of private schools to its 20% of the SRS obligation by 2023 strikes as completely reasonable, not to mention equitable. But with public schools welcoming over 80% of the ACT’s disadvantaged students, the heavy lifting we do on behalf of our community is vital work that must continue. Scrimping on public education is a false economy. More equitable would be a commitment from the ACT Government to maintain current funding levels to all ACT public schools in real terms, at least until all ACT private schools are transitioned down to 100% of the SRS. When we go to work, we see where greater funding for public education could be well-spent. Knowing there are excessive government dollars being allocated to private schools is extremely frustrating. For a particularly stark example, consider that many of our classrooms don’t even have adequate heating and cooling, yet public dollars are being spent on breezy walkways and turreted libraries in some exclusive private schools! Solving more challenges with the same or fewer resources is stretching our teachers’ own wellbeing to the limit. So then, when public education is about providing equity for all our children, why aren’t our students receiving considerably more of the government funding pie? And how is it even acceptable that private schools receive such big chunks of government money without accountability for how they spend it? With so many of our students and schools already at a disadvantage, if anyone is going to be overfunded, shouldn’t it be public schools first? Kids don’t all start out from the same place in life. For every child to get what they need to be successful, based on their own circumstances, public education must be thriving and robust. Equity doesn’t come cheaply, and we need every penny.

Prioritise public school funding.

Trina Cleary Teacher, Torrens Primary School


Make all learning spaces temperature-controlled and smoke-free. Paige Wells Teacher, Lanyon High School



he 2020 school year started with a sense of impending doom. The Orroral Valley bushfire was burning to the south of Canberra, and the smoke from the fire was visible from the school grounds. In fact, it was a little too close for comfort. As teachers we returned to school for our professional learning days not knowing if we would be evacuated in the middle of the day. Combine that fear with the smoke that permeated throughout the school building, and the start of the year was not what we were expecting at all. One member of our executive team remembers when they walked out from their first day back, ash covered their car and you could see flames on the hills near the school. We spent our first three days back in our learning space, as this was one area of the school not affected by smoke. During these days, I was sitting near several colleagues who have asthma. I remember having to constantly get up to close the door to the area as people kept leaving the door to the space open, not realising how much smoke they were letting in as it was an inside door. One of my colleagues went into a coughing fit from all the smoke. The next week was even worse, as students returned to the school. We were then working in our classrooms, keeping the windows shut (in summer no less!) to keep the smoke out of the classrooms. Unfortunately, it still found a way to leech into the corridors. The smoke was usually the worst in the mornings, and had mostly dissipated by the afternoon. During this time the students struggled to focus, as our classrooms can be quite warm at the best of times, but with no air flow, it was definitely worse. They were also not allowed in the outdoor spaces when the air was smoky. This meant that at recess and lunchtime, as well as during PE, students were very limited in what activities they could do. Children do need their outside time at school to burn off their excess energy, otherwise they find it difficult to focus on the learning in the classroom. This meant that there was a tense atmosphere at the school for both the students and the teachers. We were fortunate enough to receive several air purifiers from the Directorate (although, unfortunately, after the worst smoke-filled days were behind us). Each staffroom received two of these, and a couple were placed in the gym. This allowed them to be used for PE, as well as be circulated throughout the other areas of the school.

We know bushfire seasons like the one we experienced through January are only likely to become more common. We must be prepared in advance to deal with these, not scrambling to manage when they do hit. Learning spaces must be designed, or modified, to remain safe and smoke-free. It is also vital to our schools that all learning spaces are temperature-controlled, to ensure that student learning conditions and teachers’ working conditions are not compromised. Earlier this year, our sub-branch moved an infrastructure motion, with our number one priority being the thermal insulation of the main school building. In winter, it can be quite cold inside, especially in the corridors. The motion included replacement of thermal sealing to be fitted to all doors and windows, as well as double glazing to all external windows. A few weeks ago, a pilot light went off for the heater that serves my classroom. The temperature did not rise above 10 degrees until about midday. Fortunately, this issue was only related to two classrooms at the time, and we were able to get it resolved quite quickly. However, that experience has shown me why it is essential that a classroom is temperature-controlled . Walking into the room in the morning, I realised that there was no way my students would be able to focus on their learning if they had to stay in the room. Summer is also a challenge, especially on really warm days. It is a common sight in summer to see all the windows of the building open to hopefully get some air flow through, as well as the fans spinning at top speed. We are fortunate enough to have an air conditioner in the staffroom I work in, but the rest of the building does not have this luxury. My classroom is on the second floor and as we all know, heat rises. This can make some days a struggle for students and their teachers. I'm sure almost every educator has had similar experiences. In our changing climate, summers are only going to get worse. Making all learning spaces temperature-controlled and smoke-free should be a priority. I can’t imagine that our politicians would want to work in an unacceptably hot or cold environment, Neither do our students or teachers.



magine a world where you’re not allowed to help. An eight year old child sits at a single desk in an unfamiliar room, with a pencil and eraser. They have been told to sit in silence, look to the front and wait for the next instruction. The walls have been stripped of posters, anchor charts and student’s thinking to ensure nobody is given an advantage. The test starts and you watch your children struggle. A child’s hand goes up and they ask a clarifying question. And your heart breaks. You’re not allowed to help, provide feedback or to coach them. You’re not allowed to help them explore an idea that sparks their curiosity, and sends them on a journey. You tell them, ‘I can’t help you’ and confusion reigns in their eyes. You always help them, coach them, provide them with quality feedback. Why not today? Welcome to the world of NAPLAN! I’ve always had concerns about NAPLAN, both personally and professionally. My boys have never sat NAPLAN tests, which has no impact on their growth as learners or active and informed citizens. Professionally I grapple with the concept of standardised testing, as I’ve never met a standardised child, only unique individuals who all bring something different to the table. Education is about learning, and what drives learning is curiosity and collaboration. These skills and dispositions and many others are not only not addressed by NAPLAN, but stifled by it. NAPLAN’s original purpose was to provide parents with assessments of their children’s development in literacy and numeracy to inform a broader perspective. Schools would get their data and compare cohorts and individual results within test areas. Over time, the system and school accountability and improvements agendas were added as additional purposes. Since then, the My School website has allowed public access to the results of every school in Australia and contributed to making NAPLAN a high-stakes test. The most disappointing feature has been the public availability to compare schools. For smaller jurisdictions like the ACT, some media outlets create league tables under the unhelpful heading ‘best performing schools’. There will always be a winner and a loser, and suddenly schools are categorised into good and bad schools driven by competition. Context is everything and schools should not be judged by questionable data on a website. The public narrative needs to change. It is not about whether a school is good or bad; the narrative needs to be what is good about your school. When prospective parents ask me about NAPLAN results and how we compare on the My School website, I take a big breath, smile and politely talk about how NAPLAN does not define us. I talk about our vision, our values and approach to learning in a contemporary setting. I’m confident by the end of the tour they know more about our school community than My School can ever tell them. 14

Feedback is universally recognised as a high impact teaching strategy. The more timely it is, the more opportunity the learner can use it. If formative assessment is a learning check-up, then receiving NAPLAN results three months after the test is a postmortem. If assessment and feedback is ongoing in a modern day classroom, how many teachers and students use NAPLAN results to shape their next steps in learning progression? It's likely that what they needed three months ago is not the same as what they need now. This is not helpful for teachers or learners. The pressure of NAPLAN impacts the way curriculum is designed and delivered. As Yong Zhao says, ‘Reading and writing should be the floor not the ceiling’. However NAPLAN has created this, along with a backward thinking narrative by some policy makers on ‘back to basics’ learning. By narrowing the curriculum many students never have the opportunity to explore their passions and truly grow a love of learning. Having students sit practice tests for several weeks or months takes away from their learning program, robs them of agency and is a sure way to kill their curiosity. As one student said when I needed to call his mother after a negative incident, ‘Please don’t ring my Mum, she will make me do NAPLAN practice tests’. So what would a world without NAPLAN look like? The cancelling of NAPLAN due to COVID-19 has allowed educators to reflect on the effectiveness of the test. According to the Australian Education Union, three out of four teachers think NAPLAN is ineffective and that it has failed to improve student outcomes. The question is, have we really missed it? I haven’t. I would like to see NAPLAN abolished. In its current form, it’s not helpful to teachers or students. As an accountability tool, there are too many problems with the assessment itself and with the data for schools to have any real confidence in its validity. My biggest issue is that learning is a personal thing and should be intrinsic in nature. All of us can learn and succeed, but not all on the same day and in the same way. Do we want to create a culture of test takers or successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens? Learning should not be a competition. The late great Sir Ken Robinson said, ‘Education doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardise but to personalise it, to build on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.’ This is the world I want to teach in.

Fight for the right student assessment, not NAPLAN. Greg Terrell Principal, Bonython Primary School


Cap class sizes, without exception. Sarah Warren Teacher, Florey Primary School


hen it comes to classes, size does matter. Every educator knows this, but has it ever been more perfectly demonstrated than during remote learning? With every student you add to the grid, each face gets smaller and smaller. Students who are compliant – but not necessarily engaged – are resized and, if they are not vocal, might disappear off your screen completely. In the face-to-face environment, students might be in the same room as you, but the outcome is the same. Teaching and learning is interactive and highly challenging. Being able to work flexibly with a variety of groups, conference with individual students and teach effectively all depends on having adequate planning, time, space, and resources. Effective teaching relies on navigating your audience, while constantly adjusting your approach and reading each individual in every class. This is true across all education settings from early childhood through to college and beyond. Class size maximums are essential to planning and delivering intentional, high quality teaching and learning. Knowing each of your students and adapting your teaching according to their needs is central to maintaining student engagement. Class sizes are a huge factor in the dynamics that underpin successful student learning. The range of social interactions and activities involved in the process of teaching and learning is constant, and connections between students are important in their learning development. Increasing the number of students beyond appropriate class sizes limits the capacity of an educator to genuinely meet these needs. The balance of being able to actively listen to a student, value their contribution, and allow their thinking to be heard relies on the time to do so. Discussions should recognise all student voices. This is challenging when there are too many competing and counterproductive variables in a typical classroom environment. Eliminating excessive student numbers and capping class sizes is a necessary part of building a safe, collaborative learning environment. We’ve made great strides on capping classes in the ACT. Class size maximums are now included in our Enterprise Agreement (EA) and measures to ensure they are met are agreed and signed off in each site’s EA Implementation Plan. We need assurance from the incoming ACT Government that they will provide resources to cap class sizes without exception.

One exception we are still faced with is split classes. This term does not exist outside education. It refers to the operational necessity of students being divided across other classes, in the absence of their teacher. Aside from tipping class sizes over their maximum, when classes are split at the last minute, multi-year levels and students are often moved to another class with no work, or work that isn’t meaningful. Educators scramble to find work appropriate for their year level to keep them engaged and learning during the day. On a practical level, the physical classroom environment stacked with students is not purposeful or enjoyable. The operational reality is a hard ask for everyone. Split classes demonstrate how adaptive educators are on a daily basis, but they are terrible for student learning and a stark reminder to educators of how important student numbers are when it comes to making a positive educational impact. We need adequate staffing in schools, and enough relief teachers to make this a thing of the past. We must advocate for change. Teachers know that increasing student numbers beyond agreed maximums has a detrimental impact on everyday learning. Being passive on this point is not okay. Decisive action in adhering to the class sizes allows educators the opportunity to recognise all students and create an empowered community of learning where co-construction and collaboration builds a vibrant and dynamic culture of learning. Public education positions teachers as professionals who are responsive to the needs of all students. Acting with integrity and valuing each student as an individual relies on teachers being able to individualise feedback and connect every day in learning. Supporting a diverse student population can only be done with the full range of resources and personnel to make this a reality. High expectations of this happening every day should not be aspirational. Exceptions to agreed class size maximums say that we are okay with some students getting less. Less learning, less time, and less access to high quality teaching and learning.


Make sure every public school has great school library services. Lori Korodaj, with Norma John Louise McMullen & Holly Godfree



ou may have heard tales from your veteran colleagues of a mythical time, a time when every school had a full time qualified teacher librarian (TL). Legend says these TLs team-taught with classroom teachers to support students with research and reading. These TLs were on hand for 'just in time' answers to pressing questions. They would regularly stop by to find out what you'd be teaching next so they could (literally) deliver you a stack of appropriate resources perfectly selected for your class. They made your teaching easier and better because they knew the curriculum and resources to support it, and they were right there when you needed them: they were really useful. We say to you now, friends, that these are not tall tales, although school library staffing has been low for so long in so many of our schools that many teachers and even school leaders have gone their whole careers without experiencing the benefits a TL brings to a school community. These educators are so used to being almost entirely self-sufficient that the mere idea of being helped to resource the curriculum or co-design an assessment task or team-teach targeted information literacy skills feels like magical thinking. To help really paint the picture for you, we’ve collected some quotes from staff in ACT schools who are currently working with the few TLs that are still with us. "Before you came, we didn’t use the library much because we couldn’t find things. Now we just ask and it saves us so much time." (Teacher) "The collaborative way the TL works with me to support my teaching and my students' learning builds my confidence in delivering an appropriately differentiated curriculum to my students." (Teacher) "Team teaching with the TL made me think about my own pedagogies and how I can deliver lessons effectively. I also refer to things in your lesson when we do writing." (Teacher) "You know, I never really liked reading until you came. I never knew what to read and so I didn’t do it. Now I never stop reading!" (Student) "Newer concepts introduced by the TL have then been consolidated in my own teaching in subsequent activities - the mind mapping and also the listing of key information have popped up every week since those lessons." (Teacher) "I love coming to the library as our library teacher is so much fun choosing stories to share with us, especially when there are puppets. We get time to look at books and just relax and read for a while." (Student)

"Great for me to have an expert on board to help with this type of instruction. Your lessons were beautifully designed and elegantly executed. I love calling on your expertise when resourcing and planning!" (Teacher) "Working with you was incredibly effective and useful for college studies and for my future. Before coming to college I felt scared and unprepared for everything that I needed to do, however, now I have learned valuable things such as referencing, making (not taking) notes, and safe and smart searching online." (Student) "All the sessions I've had have been very helpful with my schooling. They have helped me become more careful with the work I collect online, helped me find great sources for my assignments and helped my organisation skills with my notes." (Student) "Coming from another country, I find the library is a welcoming and inviting space. I can ask the teacher librarian about finding suitable books for my child’s reading age and books of interest for both of us. It is also a nice place to volunteer to help with various library jobs and gives me some work experience too." (Parent) "Yes, I want a TL! It took me a year and a half to get my old school ready to have one and we were so pleased we got one just before I left. It makes such a difference; you can see it even when you just walk through! You can see the quality of books, the information up on the walls and the inviting feel to the place. It is a place the students want to be." (Principal) After nine years of the AEU ACT actively supporting and nurturing the advocacy efforts of teacher librarians in Canberra, we could be on the cusp of getting back for students and educators what was once considered normal: a full-time, qualified teacher librarian in every public school. It’s important to remember that the TL can only soar for you and your students when there is a qualified library assistant who has their back. While “teacher librarian” is the short, sharp, sound bite, the “Library Team” is what really delivers the goods. There are many deeply committed non-teacher librarian staff working in school libraries and doing wonderful, important work every day. Many of them have all the best traits you will find in school library staff, but are just lacking the technical knowledge that comes with the qualifications. We will need a whole new generation of TLs and library assistants to become qualified to ensure every public school can have a great library. Our schools and our students deserve great school libraries.



IT is a foundation of ACT economic development. In this Education City, CIT is a strong competitor in the training market of the ACT, region, nation and internationally, providing quality education products and services. CIT meets the challenge to supply a trained workforce and address skills shortages, and positions itself to partner with contemporary markets, stakeholders and clients. Like all education businesses, CIT is driven by market forces and competition, compelled to keep service delivery costs down and service outputs high.

So, what have we learnt during COVID? Faced with remote learning, like all educators, I turned to my fellow educators for ideas and support. For me, this happened to be my daughter, a primary school teacher in another state who was a few weeks ahead of me with online learning. Despite the difference in the age of our students and content, the challenges were the same and, as educators, we discussed and refined our approaches.

Such is the language and drivers of marketised education, anchored in economic development a feature of vocational education in Australia for at least 20 years, driven by agendas of all levels of Government.

Nationally, COVID highlighted the widespread experience of disadvantage in education – all education – as students and households struggled with internet and equipment. The evidence rolled in showing that many students do not fare well with online learning, not all households are suitable study or teaching environments, and, as educators, this was and continues to be a strong, shared experience. With CIT more closely aligned to other ACT educators, we can develop and collectively become more effective in this space.

This approach to vocational education has also delivered competency-based training (CBT, considered by many, to be well past its use by date), copious learning and assessment checklists, text based competence mapping and compliance, completion funding, shorter and faster courses, higher fees, contractual learning and assessment (“I paid my fees, so give me the qualification”) and competition from a proliferation of forprofit providers who have lowered the quality of vocational education and damaged the reputation and trust of the sector for all.

COVID has also highlighted the issue of insecure employment and poor workforce training that has pervaded the aged care and disability sector, in particular. In many states, training for this sector has been delivered by a proliferation of private providers, and the standard of training has been of great concern. This is an uncredentialed and highly vulnerable workforce, supporting our most vulnerable citizens. The results have been tragic. All workers need comprehensive education to be assertive citizens, competent and confident in their work, not just short, rushed skills courses.

This emphasis on the market and economic development alone has also reduced the capacity to provide quality training in ‘thin’ markets (skills for essential industries where demand is low or highly specialised or high cost), to foster lifelong learning, to support citizens whose previous education experiences have not been good, to support people changing careers and those who experience disadvantage when accessing education and employment. This is the work of TAFE that, through education, changes lives.

Embed CIT in the Future of Education in the ACT

The AEU continues to advocate for reform that places education first. The contribution TAFE and CIT makes to economic development is foundational and essential as it flows from education.

In 2017, the ACT Minister for Education released the strategy The Future of Education. CIT was not included in this strategy, only a brief mention of VET in schools. This moment triggered discussion about the place of education and educators in the ACT, and the notion that CIT/TAFE teachers are no more or less educators than their colleagues in schools and colleges. Working together, as educators, there is so much more we can achieve for the people – and the economy – of the ACT. We can build stronger pathways from colleges to CIT, we can share professional development about contemporary learning and assessment, we can pool our expertise on class sizes and educational management and technology. For the future of education in the ACT, bring CIT into the Education portfolio.


Bring CIT into the Education portfolio. Karen Noble, CIT Teacher


Our Public Education Pledge was distributed to the three major parties some weeks ago. Here's how they scored.


EDUCATION REPORT CARD Put public education first


Fair funding for public schools Temperature-controlled and smoke-free classrooms Fight for the right student assessment, not NAPLAN

Cap class sizes, without exception Great school library services Bring CIT into the Education portfolio Put public education first


Fair funding for public schools Temperature-controlled and smoke-free classrooms Fight for the right student assessment, not NAPLAN

Cap class sizes, without exception Great school library services Bring CIT into the Education portfolio


Put public education first Fair funding for public schools Temperature-controlled and smoke-free classrooms Fight for the right student assessment, not NAPLAN

Cap class sizes, without exception Great school library services Bring CIT into the Education portfolio



A special message from the Branch Secretary I want to talk to you about politics. For some of our members politics is, perhaps understandably, something of an immediate turnoff. That’s why you pay me to deal with most of it. Politics is not everything, but it is certainly something. Elections are not everything, but they are certainly something. Trust me, the result of this election will have a direct impact on your working life. In the 2016 election, the AEU’s campaigning led directly to an $85 million pledge to incrementally improve the infrastructure in our public schools, 20 new school psychologist positions being created in our system and a guarantee that at least 70 per cent of public VET funding would go to CIT. We also saw class sizes capped and enshrined in our School Teachers Enterprise Agreement. The past four years have seen us working with a government and an education minister who respect the place of our union at the table. Rarely has anything been done to us; things have been done with us. This is worthy of reflection as we find ourselves in another election period. The AEU, as you know, is not affiliated to any political party. We pride ourselves on our independence and on giving all parties a hard time if they deserve it. At the same time, we show a willingness to work constructively with any party if they are open to it. Over the past nine years as Secretary, I have had a strong working relationship with politicians in each of the parties. I am writing to you now to explain frankly what has occurred over the past four years and what two possible futures entail. Credit must be given where it is due. Yvette Berry has been an excellent education minister, and has made the case within her government for us to be treated well and our schools invested in.


Yvette has worked closely with us to, among other things: • • • • • • • • •

make our members the best paid educators in Australia; reduce face-to-face teaching hours in primary schools; negotiate the best School Teachers’ Enterprise Agreement in Australia; manage Occupational Violence (OV) through a properly resourced system-wide architecture; lead the national fight against NAPLAN and the My School website; go some way towards addressing the historical overfunding of private schools; establish preschool for 3-year-olds and guarantee 15 hours of preschool for 4-yearolds; rescue our school cleaners from dodgy interstate companies and employ them directly; and end any suggestion that our students would need to endure a phonics test for 6-year-olds or the failed model of Direct Instruction.

The AEU has been a genuine collaborator in each of these achievements. Apart from committing to almost all of our pledge items, ACT Labor is promising to build a number of new public schools to accommodate surging enrolments, and to deliver a massive $117 million upgrade and renewal program for public schools, including $14 million for heating and cooling. They have also pledged $15 million to remove lead paint. Labor has promised a $12 million expansion of the school equity fund, to make sure the families of disadvantaged students from preschool to year 12 can access annual funding for excursions, camps and uniforms. They have also promised that we will have 25 more teacher librarians working in the schools that need them the most within the next four years, and have spelled out an extensive scholarship scheme and incentives for our members to convert to this crucial role.

The ACT Greens have also been supportive of the profession’s objectives in this term of minority government, implementing the recommendations of the Schools For All report, working on better demographic projections to assist with planning for new public schools, and supporting Labor in delivering the OV reforms. Over the past four years, the Canberra Liberals could not have been less supportive of the AEU and its objectives. They refuse to meet with us, despite numerous invitations. They won’t reply to our correspondence. Presumably resentful of our nation-leading collaboration around OV reforms, they launched a surprise attack in the Legislative Assembly, hiding behind parliamentary privilege, and seeking to use the sensitive cases of two of our members to damage us. Our two members responded to them with outrage. Using NAPLAN as their only measure, the Canberra Liberals have cultivated a narrative that our schools are “failing", our results “lagging behind” and that we have the “worst school results in Australia”. Apart from being an insult to educators, it is empirically false. The Liberals draw the public’s attention to problems in public schools but never talk about the problems in private schools. They refuse to tell your union about their education policies and plans. They want to “improve education standards”, but we have no idea what that means. They want to “free teachers from administrative burdens”, but we are not told how. They appear to want to change our curriculum so that it goes “back to basics”, whatever that means. They are talking about reinstating the discredited school chaplaincy program, which inappropriately preferences adherence to a particular faith in the delivery of pastoral care to students in nonreligious schools. The Liberals recently pledged to spend the laughably meagre sum of $15 million to audit and then fix public school infrastructure. They have promised to find 50 new teacher librarians – a laudable ambition – though they have not spelled out how this will be delivered, and they haven't spoken to us about it.

They also pledged to spend an additional $16 million on Catholic schools, which will increase the funding advantage these schools already have over public schools, and could have been used instead to provide 40 new teachers for the public system. None of the Liberals’ announcements have been the subject of consultation with teachers and principals. Given the Liberals are promising to freeze rates and thereby reduce the government’s capacity to invest in strong public services, we are entitled to ask the question, what do they really have in store for us? We know they are anti-union, proprivatisation and vehemently pro-NAPLAN, but we know little else. I want to project two futures for you to consider. The first is that we continue to work with a government that gives us a genuine seat at the table to incrementally enhance our growing and thriving public education system and improve our working lives. The second future is one where this proud union is at loggerheads with those who don’t want to know what we do and what we need. Maybe you’ve worked me out by now. I’m in my element when in a combative environment, and I’m more than comfortable leading a union that has no other option but to flex its muscles and stand up for itself. My team and I would do the heavy lifting on behalf of you, but always with your guidance and direction. I ask you to consider my analysis of the scenarios that confront us, and to choose a future for public education and for our profession with which you are comfortable. I don't want any of our members to say they weren't informed.

Keep reading to find out about the candidates who have reached out to us. 25

Yvette Berry


What we’ve achieved

I hope that by now most of you know a little bit about my background. I live in West Belconnen with my kids, our rescue dog Cassie and our chooks Wendy, Cheeky, Sydney and Willow. My kids go to public schools just like I did – thank you to those of you who teach them!

In 2018, I launched the Future of Education Strategy, which outlines a ten year plan for education in the ACT. It was the result of many, many conversations, with students, parents, community members, and importantly teachers and school staff. The strategy recognises that quality teaching is one of the most critical factors in achieving student outcomes and mitigating disadvantage. This is why Empowered Learning Professionals is one of the four foundations of the strategy and why so much of the Labor government’s focus has been on supporting teachers and school staff.

I’ve come to this role not by seeking it out, but by always fighting for the causes I believe in and for a community that is fair for everyone. I started my working life in hospitality and then worked as a community organiser in the union movement. Equity and fairness are the values I continue to live and work by.

So much has been achieved through the strategy, but some of the highlights for teachers include the Masters scholarships, the UC affiliated schools program, and mentoring for new teachers. I’m also proud to have established the Muliyan off-campus flexible learning program, for students who need something different from a traditional classroom.

his year has been huge. Everyone’s got so much going on that it feels strange to be talking about the election. But we’re fortunate to live in a strong democracy, and this is an opportunity for the Canberra community to reflect on the past four years and look forward to our future.


ACT GINNINDERRA During this term, the government struck a new enterprise agreement with your union. As a result of this effective workplace bargaining, ACT public school teachers are the highest paid in the country. Only nine years ago, teachers in the ACT’s public system were paid lower than your peers in all other jurisdictions. The agreement also included reduction in face-to-face teaching hours and an agreed class size policy. In 2017 your union and I jointly launched the Occupational Violence Policy and Management Plan. This policy was the result of hard work and advocacy by AEU members and officials. Public schools are inclusive places, and challenging behaviours will always be present, but the ACT Government recognises that occupational violence is a workplace health and safety issue and needs to be managed in that way. Over the last four years, the government has invested over $115 million in upgrading and improving public schools. This is on top of the funding to build Margaret Hendry School, Evelyn Scott School in Molonglo, the Future Skills Academies and the Belconnen High School transformation. At the start of this year, five new school psychologists joined the public system, fulfilling the government’s 2016 commitment of 20 additional school psychologists. We now have a total of 81 school psychologists across our system, with every school having access to one. I’m proud of how our public schools adapted and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. So many of you volunteered to work at hub schools, learned totally new skills, and completely changed your teaching practice to make remote learning work. I hear everyday from members of the Canberra community who are so grateful for the way school staff went above and beyond to support continuity of learning for our children. Another thing I’m enormously proud of is bringing public school cleaners, who had previously been contract workers, on board as public servants this year. This workforce had been treated poorly by their previous employers, including not being paid their full entitlements. These workers, who are United Workers Union members, now have stable public service jobs. This is a win for unions, and a great thing for public schools.

What’s next? We’ll be building new schools as fast as we can and working hard to keep upgrading older schools, so that everyone has a comfortable, safe workplace. This includes ramping up our program of thermal comfort improvementsthings like draught-proofing, double-glazing, roof replacements, installing shade sails and planting trees, as well as upgrading boilers and installing active cooling (air conditioning and evaporative cooling). We’ll be hiring more teachers, to keep up with enrolment growth in public schools and to keep class sizes under control. We’re also committed to funding more social workers and youth workers. I know that school psychologists have made a huge impact on their school communities, and ACT Labor will continue to invest in student mental health by adding to public school wellbeing teams. I’ve heard that teacher librarians are important to your union. And I know that the evidence shows that they make a significant contribution to literacy outcomes for students. Not enough people have the necessary qualifications to be a teacher librarian, so a Labor government would invest in scholarships for teachers to do their Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship), and then help to fund schools that hire qualified teacher librarians. There are a range of other plans for public education that Labor will be announcing over the course of the campaign. I look forward to sharing them with the Canberra community over the coming weeks. I’ve loved working with you over the past four years, and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in delivering stronger industrial conditions and better educational outcomes in our public schools. There’s so much more that can be achieved for public education here in Canberra. I hope I can count on your support this election.


Bec Cody



I’m a graduate of the great ACT public education system, attending Mt Neighbour Primary School and Kambah High School. I left school early and did a hairdressing apprenticeship at Cooleman Court. I worked hard, opened my own salon, and managed a small business. As a small business owner who paid staff right, and provided a safe workplace, I’m horrified to hear of the widespread wage theft going on today. It hurts working people and takes money out of the pockets of small business customers. I have seen the ups and downs of the Southside of Canberra. From the mass lay-offs in Woden in the 1990s to the recovery and construction boom happening today. Whilst the Federal Government put Canberra here, it’s been a bad boss in recent decades. They pulled out the NCDC money, and now they want to pull out the jobs. I know the future of our community is in a diverse economy that can stand on its own two feet. I have seen the wrong side of domestic violence and come through the other side. I know how tough it is to raise boys as a single mum, and the importance the whole community plays in supporting families. I know the support that participation in community sport, like Park Runs and Triathlons has provided me, and I want to make sure every Canberran can participate. Being involved in the community and meeting likeminded people offered me support during some of the toughest times in my life. I am an advocate, happy to take up the fight for outsiders, and say truth to power. My mum was a public school teacher for over 35 years in the ACT, and a proud AEU member. As you all know, teaching is not just a profession, it is a vocation, and as such she has continued to teach in retirement. She taught me the resilience to accept life’s challenges and use them as the fuel to achieve what I set out to do.

In 2016, my mum was nominated as School Leader of the year. Although she didn’t win that year, it was a great achievement to receive the nomination. My mum’s tireless work over a quarter of a century to support children who have often been forgotten or need a little extra guidance is a lesson we should all learn, and one that I have taken with me to the Assembly. I have been heard to say, “if our education system provides only a path for the smart kids, or the kids from privileged backgrounds to succeed, it has failed. When the naughty kids, the disinterested kids, and the poor kids are succeeding, then that’s when we’ve got our schools right.” I have been a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly since 2016, and have enjoyed my first term of government. I have been a proud member of Australia’s first female dominated Parliament. In my first term, I have accomplished many things for working people. My proudest achievement was introducing workers’ rights into the ACT Human Rights Act. This was something I set my sights on attaining and I was so excited that the ACT became the first Australian jurisdiction to include workers rights specifically in their Human Rights Act. I am hopeful I will be re-elected so I can continue to fight for the rights of working Canberrans. As a graduate of Canberra TAFE, which is now known as CIT, I want to see access to CIT courses expanded, as well as ensure that CIT is included in the Education portfolio. I believe that CIT is a pathway for people to learn, and that it should be part of the Education portfolio to ensure that all students have access to the education pathways they want to follow.


Tim Dobson




ACT MURRUMBIDGEE My name is Tim Dobson. I am a pre-service teacher working as a Learning Support Assistant, and a member of the AEU ACT, whose Executive I have been proud to serve on. I’m running as a Labor candidate for the seat of Murrumbidgee in the ACT election.

The crucial role of Learning Support Assistants in helping bring this about needs to be acknowledged and supported within schools. Part of this is to provide pathways for LSAs to use their educational knowledge and experience to become teachers if they desire.

From very early in my life, I was aware of the power of education to inspire and empower. My father has been a mathematics teacher for over 40 years and my mother was an early childhood educator. I am a graduate of public schools in Wollongong, and I am proud to work in the public education system now in Canberra.

Alongside equity is the power of representative school communities. Learning occurs best when there are positive relationships between schools, teachers and families. All families should feel empowered to be able to engage in the education process and to work with teachers to achieve the best results for students.

Our union is a great force to be a part of. I have seen first-hand the fierce advocacy of the AEU in support of its members. When progress is made in the public education system here, it’s because of a productive relationship between the union and the government, and I have no doubt that will continue to be the case into the future.

It's essential we acknowledge the social role that schools and their staff play in our community as well. Free breakfast programs, community school programs, music programs and, in a recent example I saw at Stromlo High School, turning an unused bit of land on its site into a BMX track; these programs get to be enjoyed by everyone in the area and foster a vital sense of community. I want to continue to work with schools and staff to maintain these programs.

One of the major reasons that motivated my run was the need to continue to stand up for public education, and everyone who works in our schools. I am a fierce supporter of equity in education. Learning in schools should not be determined by family background or wealth levels or occupation. As teachers, there is only so much we can do to rectify that inequality in our broader society, but when teachers are supported and empowered, we can play a massive role in ensuring disadvantage is left at the school gate.

While acknowledging the improvements that have been made, having been a victim of occupational violence myself, I want to work hard to make sure our schools are safe work-places for everyone.

Campaigning across the electorate, the support out in the community for our public school system is plain to me. Canberrans love public education and public educators. That is testament to everyone working in the system and the hard, relentless and sometimes unacknowledged work that occurs every day. We live in a city built on the idea that people’s lives are made better through public services - in the case of public education, setting children up to lead fulfilling lives. However, we know that schools and teachers do not act in a vacuum. Schools and teachers act within the constraints that are placed upon them by governments. This election provides a stark choice for everyone working in schools: do we continue to support the progress made by the Labor Government in the ACT, through its good relationship with the union? Or do we support an alternative that pays lip service to teachers, but totally fails to engage with them about what they want or need, and instead offers vague platitudes of ‘going back to basics’?

All students come to school with existing knowledge, skills, personalities, preferences and ways of learning. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that works for all students. That must be reflected in the resources that are provided for students: differentiation is one of the most effective teaching methods.

The ACT election provides the perfect opportunity for all of us who work in the public-school system to vote for representatives who will put public education first. As an educator and as a unionist, you can be assured that is what I will do every day if I am elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Murrumbidgee.

In the ACT we have the highest paid public educators in the country, but there is still more to do. The Education Minister has signalled her concerns around the flaws of NAPLAN and how its current approach gets in the way of teachers doing their job. With its COVID-19-related cancellation this year, we have an opportunity to reflect on its role.


Rebecca Vassarotti My passion for public education comes from experience. I am the daughter of a teacher, the mother of children in ACT public primary and secondary schools, and a product of Canberra’s world leading public college system. This informs my deep commitment to fight for a public education system that is accessible, valued and invested in. My professional experience as a community advocate and community sector leader has also informed my understanding of what happens when education systems are not accessible for everyone. I’ve seen the devastating impact of people who have been left behind; life long disadvantage and lost opportunity for the community as a whole. 32

A strong public education doesn’t just happen. It requires commitment, resources and political will. I am very proud to be a loud voice for education within a political party that is already the strongest voice for education. The Greens are the only remaining party to support universal access to free public education. I’m proud the ACT Greens have announced a plan to provide free preschool to all three-year-olds, and the Federal Greens were the first to support a needs-based school funding model which prioritises public education, the abolition of HECS fees and free university for everyone.

The ACT Greens recognise that public education promotes equality of opportunity, is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy and is fundamental to society. We know that educating children and young people is not a cost but an investment. This is an investment in individuals but also in families, communities and our country. If I am privileged to be elected into the next term of the Legislative Assembly, I will continue to fight to ensure free high-quality education is available to everyone. I will champion recognition of the value and importance of educators as a profession and a vocation. I will stand up to ensure the resources are provided to deliver a world class education experience for all our children and young people. I am passionate about inclusive social policy, having worked in the community services and health services not for profit sector for the last two decades. During this time, I have led communitybased organisations working in areas including early childhood education, youth services, gender equity, homelessness and affordable housing, gambling reform, and health related issues including dementia and hepatitis. I have volunteered on many not-for-profit Boards. In addition, I have served as a community member on the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in the areas of mental health, guardianship, and energy and water hardship. My early career was spent in the ACT public service, working in a range of issues including environmental management, municipal services and health. I believe firmly that it is not only possible to create a society that works for people and the planet, but it is something we must all work to create. This is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Providing people with the support they need not creates individual opportunities for people to grow but also benefits the whole community. I am passionate to see inclusive social policy that welcomes everyone and celebrates diversity, electoral reform that restores faith in our democracy and world-leading environmental and climate policy that recognises how connected we are to the beautiful places we get to call home. If elected, I will continue this commitment to ensure that everyone in the ACT has access to the services and supports they need to live a connected and meaningful life – access to high quality education is an essential part of this. This is part of a commitment to strong public services that deliver quality services to our community and secure work for those delivering these services.

KURRAJONG While Canberra is a great place to live, we have so much more to do. The horror bushfire season, the choking smoke of last summer, and the COVID-19 health and economic disaster presents challenges never seen before. It has never been more important to have people involved in political decision making that are deeply connected to their community, are engaged in the issues that matter to people locally and committed to making a difference. I believe deeply that the amazing benefits that many of us access in Canberra need to be shared by everyone, and creating a more inclusive, equal and compassionate community will deliver benefits for all of us. While I pursued this aim through community advocacy for many years, I got involved in party politics because I believe our democracy needs the involvement of people who are connected to their community. After many years of encouraging others, particularly young women to get involved in political decision making, I realised it was time for me to stop advocating for change but to get in there and make it happen. 2020 has been a year of significant challenge for the public education sector, but through this time, we have seen great innovation, adaption, professionalism and care in supporting our children and young people to access learning. Like many parents and carers, I have had a taste firsthand of the complexity of the task of teaching children and young people. The ACT Greens stand in solidarity with those who have dedicated their professional lives to education vocations and look forward to working in partnership with the AEU, schools and teachers into the future. I am running in the seat of Kurrajong because I know the decisions we make locally matter – they will shape our city for the next century, will determine how liveable this city remains in a changing climate and will determine how we continue to ensure we are a progressive and caring community. I would love to connect with you and hear about the things that matter to you. Rebecca can be contacted via or on 0408668963, Further information is available via


I’m proud to be a Labor member for Ginninderra (covering most of Belconnen) in the ACT Legislative Assembly, Government Whip and Special Secretary to the Chief Minister. I was elected to the Assembly in October 2016, becoming a member of the first majority-female parliament in Australia’s history.


I grew up in several towns throughout Queensland but it wasn’t until I moved to Belconnen that I felt I’d found my home – somewhere I loved and felt a real sense of belonging. While enjoying a rewarding career at the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, I joined the Belconnen Community Council as a first step to helping make Belconnen even better and served as its Chair. I also blogged about all things Canberra at In The Taratory, served as secretary of the Belconnen Arts Centre Board, and I’ve been a Tournament of Minds judge for many years.

I have degrees in Journalism and Arts from the University of Queensland, as well as a Master of Business Administration from the University of Canberra. In my first term of parliament, I’ve served on 13 committees and, as a backbencher, introduced and secured unanimous support for legislation so that families of an organ donor can have this recognised on their loved one’s death certificate – an Australian first. I understand and value the importance of equitable access to high quality education and the positive impact having this has on every aspect of a person’s life – and on their future. As I’ve got to know our school and vocational education communities in Ginninderra even better over the last four years, it’s driven home to me just how hard principals, teachers and support staff work and how committed they are to supporting their students – which has only been amplified in a year like we’ve had.

As a Labor member, I’m proud of our commitments to ensuring that our public education system is and remains the best in the country - and that we will continue to prioritise public education and our support for the incredible workforce.

EMMA DAVIDSON I'm proud to be part of the only party that supports free, universal public education. I was also proud to announce our commitment to accelerating the rollout of free, universal preschool for three year olds, as part of our gender led recovery plan.

I'm Emma Davidson, ACT Greens candidate for Murrumbidgee. I'm passionate about putting the wellbeing of our diverse community at the forefront of government policy.


I've lived in Murrumbidgee for 25 years, working and volunteering in the community sector, and making a home with my family in Hughes. My children are third generation Canberra public school students, where they have been supported to become critical thinkers and develop their resilience and curiosity by amazing teachers.

I’m worried about the future my kids have in this city. We need to make sure that we have the right infrastructure for our communities, including public schools, healthcare, sports, and arts facilities as the population grows and the climate changes. We need to improve our public transport network and active infrastructure, and give our community more say in how this city develops. I’m a passionate believer that we can and must enable everyone to access safe, secure, sustainable, affordable housing. Public schools are the hub of our neighbourhoods, and should be the standard for education for everyone. I co-wrote the submission to try and save Melrose Primary School in Chifley from closure in 2006 before

I had any children old enough to enrol there, because I believe in the importance of public education in our community and I’m willing to fight to save them. A school is not just a building: it is a community of people who are committed to education and to supporting young people. The key to quality, secular, inclusive public education is funding and support for teachers and support staff. This means reducing class sizes, ensuring school facilities are equipped to deal with our changing climate, and teachers have the resources they need. This will enable our public schools to continue offering rich, meaningful, well-rounded educational experiences for our young people. Our local public schools are part of growing up our children and young people to be critical thinkers who value diversity, fairness, and respect. I am committed to supporting our public school teachers in their vocation, by fighting for funding for our public schools and respect for our teachers.

JOHNATHAN DAVIS I'm Johnathan Davis, ACT Greens Candidate for the Tuggeranong seat of Brindabella. I'm also a passionate advocate for public education. In 2009, I led the campaign to save Kambah High School. Kambah High, along with 38 other public schools, were proposed to close under the then majority Stanhope Labor government’s ‘Towards 2020’ schools plan. As a proud product of a quality public school education, I was committed to fighting what I believed to be a disastrous proposal to protect the teaching and learning environments for students in my community. This campaign exposed me to a variety of challenges faced by both teaching staff and the public education system more broadly in providing quality public education in safe, well-resourced and comfortable spaces.

When I decided to get politically active, it was so important to me to ensure that I joined a party whose passion for and commitment to public schools equalled mine. I am proud to be an ACT Greens candidate, and a representative of the Australian Greens who are committed to universal free public education. If elected, I promise to be a strong and passionate advocate for public schools, public school teachers and public school facilities. As a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, I do not see my job as being prescriptive. I will not tell you what you need instead, I will ask you what you need. I will have a regular and open dialogue with the AEU ACT Branch and with teachers, parents, and students. You will inform policy. You will inform my work.

Working together, we can deliver the policy outcomes that best serve our public school system and wider community. I welcome your calls and emails. Let’s start the conversation now. I can be reached on 0437 309 680 or

DEEPAK-RAJ GUPTA At age 23, I left my home in India to study in Australia. After falling in love with the country, I moved to Gungahlin to begin raising my family.

I am a Labor member for the Gungahlin based seat of Yerrabi. I am passionate about making Canberra the best place to live and raise a family. I believe that having a strong education system where teachers are respected and students can reach their full potential is an integral part of this.

My wife and I have watched our two children go through their schooling in Gungahlin. During this time, I worked in both private and public enterprise before joining the ACT Legislative Assembly in its most recent rendition. In the Assembly, I have focused on education, health, supporting small business and ensuring we have a sustainable environment. I value a strong community spirit and believe that this is inherently linked with our local schools. I was awarded the ACT Community Advocate Award in 2012 and the Community Service Excellence Award in 2015. Over the past two decades, I have helped create and organise various multicultural programs around the city.

I know the importance that a well-educated population has for making our city the best it can be. I understand that each student is different, and it is crucial to develop different education pathways. I believe that continued consultation with teachers and those in the education sector is essential to ensure the best outcomes for our city. It has been my honour to serve my community in Gungahlin. I am proud of the achievements the Labor ACT Government has accomplished, however I recognise that there is more work to be done. My priorities for Gungahlin are clear: supporting local jobs, education, health and ensuring a sustainable environment for the next generation. I believe that these outcomes are best achieved under an experienced and progressive Government.


SUZANNE ORR It's why in 2016 I decided to take action and run for parliament. I realised that my community needed a strong advocate to deliver real change and I've proudly served as the member for Yerrabi for the past four years. I grew up in Giralang and I now live in Franklin which means I know the Yerrabi community well. Living here all my life has allowed me to understand the diverse needs of everyone I now represent. I believe politics should be about people working together to make a difference. I never planned on becoming a politician, but as a Canberra local and urban planner, I'm always thinking about what kind of city we want to create to meet the diverse needs of our community.

Growing up my family fostered more than 200 children. The experience taught me the importance of governments providing strong essential services and support to the people that need them. It's a lesson I'll never forget.

That includes looking out for our children and young people by supporting public education, and most importantly supporting the teachers who dedicate their time to make our public school system great. I attended public schools, and I know the value in having a strong public education system staffed by hard working teachers. These values have guided me as I've worked with our local community, and shaped my priorities as a Minister, particularly as we've tackled the many challenges of the last year. I want to continue working with the entire Yerrabi community to deliver real action on the issues that matter to us. From protecting our environment and taking real action on climate change, ensuring we have the places and spaces to come together as a community, to embracing our diversity so our city is an enjoyable and inclusive place to live.


I live in Crace and before I was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly I worked to protect the workplace rights of local construction workers as an Industrial Officer for the CFMEU.

I want to make sure that Canberra continues to be a city where everyone gets a fair go. To do this, we must continue to invest in public education. As a Labor member, I’ll always fight for our public education system. I grew up in Canberra and went to school at Ainslie Primary, Campbell High and Dickson College. I had amazing teachers that worked tirelessly every day to make sure that every child got the support they needed. Education has always been important to my family. My mum was a workplace health and safety teacher at CIT. I saw everyday how much time and energy she put into her students, often working late into the evening preparing classes and marking assessment for the next day – all the while making time to help me with my school work. I’m grateful for how much my mum helped me, and I’m sure her students are as well. 36

For the past four years I have been the Chair of the Education, Employment and Youth Affairs committee in the ACT Legislative Assembly.

On that committee, I was responsible for leading the inquiry into standardised testing in ACT schools. I know too well the issues with standardised testing. They’re a blunt tool that force teachers to choose between what is best for students and what is best for the school’s reputation. They’re unfair and they need to change. And I know the struggle that some teachers and students experience every day to feel safe in their school. Occupational violence is not new, but because of the ongoing advocacy of the AEU it was brought to prominence in the ACT. When Education Minister Yvette Berry called for an inquiry into the management and minimisation of bullying and violence in local schools I was responsible for leading it. I heard directly the stories of violence that students and teachers go through. This led me to call for the employment of more school psychologists and greater support for teachers who are experiencing occupational violence.

It’s vital that Assembly processes like these continue to listen to teachers and their union which is why people need to vote for representatives that share their values. As a member of the Legislative Assembly, I am proud to be a product of our local public schools. I’ll always stand up for public education, teachers and their union because I’ve always stood alongside working people and their unions. That’s why I’m asking for your support in the upcoming ACT election.


I have been a Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly since 2008 and am currently the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Corrections and Justice Health, Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, and Mental Health. From January to October 2016, I served as Minister for Education. Although holding the portfolio for only nine months, I worked hard to meet with teachers, principals, parents and peak bodies in order to hear their views on how the ACT could achieve the best educational outcomes possible.

My achievements as Education Minister include commencing the overdue reforms to end occupational violence, supporting greater teacher engagement in the design of school reports, and creating better linkages with other government directorates to support increased community use of school halls. I became an environmental advocate at a young age and joined the Greens while studying Economics and Law at ANU.

Inspired by the environmental issues of the 1980’s and 90’s, including ozone depletion, Antarctic protection, and logging, I started working for Greenpeace Australia in 1998. In 2005, as head of their global oceans campaign, I led an expedition of ships to Antarctica to confront the Japanese whaling fleet. Through successive Parliamentary Agreements negotiated with ACT Labor since 2012, I have achieved a range of positive Green policy outcomes for Canberrans.

I believe that the COVID-19 crisis should be treated as an opportunity to build a better normal for Canberra. Rather than snapping back to an ‘old normal’ characterised by growing inequality, housing affordability problems and environmental degradation, I want to reimagine our community in a way that tackles these problems and sets our city up for the decades ahead. My vision includes a substantial investment in affordable housing so that everyone has a roof over their heads, maintaining

Canberra as a leader on real climate action, and ensuring our city continues to be the bush capital and a haven for wildlife. I want to ensure that public education supports and enables all students to develop their potential, and I believe that a strong public education system creates a more equitable and cohesive community to the benefit of everyone. On the personal front, I’m currently a proud resident of the inner north, a keen runner and triathlete, and a big fan of 80s Aussie pub rock, 90’s Triple J and Aussie hip hop.

RACHEL STEPHEN-SMITH I grew up in Canberra, walking and riding my bike to some fantastic local public schools - O'Connor Coop, Turner Primary, Lyneham High and Dickson College. The sense of community surrounding our public schools is something I'm reminded of all the time as a representative for the Kurrajong electorate. Before entering the Assembly, I'd worked as a policy advisor and senior executive in the Federal and ACT Governments and with non-government organisations. I've also been a waitress and a diplomat; a horse riding coach and a Commonwealth Cabinet Minister's Chief of Staff. ACT Government services make a real difference in people's lives whether it's in the day-to-day things like maintaining parks and footpaths, big projects like building light rail, critical services like schools and hospitals, or the complex work of supporting children and families who are doing it tough. After more than 20 years in public policy,

I know that good government is driven by clear values, sound evidence and strong community engagement. I’ve been proud to serve our community as a Minister in the ACT Government for the last four years. I was particularly proud to be a signatory of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2019-2028 that identifies Lifelong Learning and Cultural Integrity as important focus areas. As Minister for Health, it has been a privilege to see the professionalism and commitment of our public service shine through in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the teachers and educators across our school communities and CIT who continued to provide education and support for students and their families in a rapidly changing situation.

I understand that sustainable and inclusive cities don’t just happen, they are built by people and governments with a vision for a better future. High quality public education is a core part of that vision. I hope I’ll have the privilege of continuing to work for our community as part of a Labor Government and as a genuine, strong and progressive voice for the heart of Canberra. 37


ARTHUR HAMILTON AWARD This is your chance to celebrate AEU members who are making an outstanding contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. The Arthur Hamilton Award commemorates the achievements of Arthur Hamilton, a Palawa man who was active in promoting cross-cultural awareness, recognition of Indigenous peoples and the right for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to access a high quality public education. The winner will receive a $1500 prize and be flown to Melbourne to accept the Award at the AEU’s annual Federal Conference in February 2021. All nominees will receive a certificate from the AEU.


Download your nomination form at: or request a nomination form from Suzanne Lowndes: (03 9693 1800) or Closing date for nominations is Friday 6 November 2020.


Visit or contact AEU Federal Secretary Susan Hopgood:


The 2019 Arthur Hamilton Award went to the Port Augusta Children’s Centre. The Award was presented by Correna Haythorpe, AEU Federal President (left), to Mandy Dempsey, Director, Port Augusta Children’s Centre, at the 2020 AEU Federal Conference.

Welcome to our union.

Congratulations to our recently joined and re-joined members! By joining your union, you're standing in solidarity with more than 4200 of your colleagues to fight for the best conditions for

ACT public educators.

Alexander Canellakis; Alexander Cleary; Andrew Crozier; Andrey Ross Roferos; Anita Carr; Annabel Foulds; Belinda Clarke; Bernadette Wyatt; Charissa Hayward; Christopher Hamilton; Christos Papavgeris; Claire Rummery; Craig Robberds; Daniel Downes; David Russell; Eliana Piddington; Elissa Smyth; Emma White; Erica Fenwick; Erin Rhodes; Glenn Snellgrove; Gregory Egan; Harley Hagan; Helen Harrowell; Holly Wright; Jake Blackshaw; Jake Provan; Jaswinder Kaur; Jessica Gray; Jhessail Currie; Joanne Liu; Jodie Wales; Julie Bover; Kelly Cvitanovic; Kia Holmes; Kristen Skinner; Kylie Travers; Linda Abbott; Linda Birzenieks; Lucy Shanny; Luzianne Vanderzil; Malika Chona; Michael Potter; Miriam Pickard; Nicole Costigan; Nicole Mann; Paul Southwell; Peter Tsirimokos; Rachel Owen-Jones; Raina Burke; Rany Thach; Rhani Morris; Ryan Clark; Ryan Gardner; Ryan Spencer; Samuel Gameiro; Sandra O'Connor; Sandra Simpson; Scott Mercer; Shannen Talbots; Shannon Homes; Sharon Roberts; Sinéad Corey; Taylor Sutton; Tiffany Prieto; Timothy Foster; Tri Sulanjari; Trung Bui; Vivianne Anthrak; Wendy Truong; Yasmeen Sheikh; Zoe Hayes

We’ve made a promise. To be a champion for our teachers - the way they’re champions for our kids. So that even on days that feel a little tougher than usual, you can be sure someone’s there to care for your health and wellbeing.

Allana, Guy and Parker - THF members

We’re for teachers – that’s our promise. To find out more about what we can do for you, head to Eligibility criteria and conditions apply. Teachers Federation Health Ltd ABN 86 097 030 414 trading as Teachers Health. A Registered Private Health Insurer. THF-AEU/ACT- 09/20

Eligibility criteria and conditions apply. Teachers Federation Health Ltd ABN 86 097 030 414 trading as Teachers Health. A Registered Private Health Insurer. THF-AEU-01/19



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