Joanne’s Story

I was in the Defence Force as a technician for quite a long time. When I left the Navy, I got back into teaching primary and secondary, and then decided to do trade teaching because

Electrical trade teacher, GoTAFE

I was in the Defence Force as a technician for quite a long time. When I left the Navy, I got back into teaching primary and secondary, and then decided to do trade teaching because that’s my background. I’m in the minority as a female trade teacher, and I mainly have male students and colleagues, so definitely for me being in the union is like a security blanket. It gives me peace of mind that they’re covering me if I need help; just to know someone is there for me. Teaching is a very diverse field – it involves too much administration and our time is limited, so knowing I have support is very important.

Unions are all about empowering women.

As women, we tend to be “yes” people. But the union will help you stand up for your rights. If you said yes all the time, you wouldn’t get all the things you need to do as a teacher done, so you have to push back and say “No, I can’t do that, because the students will suffer”.

Unions can offer women training to help them become more assertive, and ready them for leadership roles. There are fewer women in the higher rungs of the Education Department, so the AEU is better able to support women in trying for those promotions.

We need the union to help us make sure that our role is about teaching, not administration… Being part of the union gives teachers collectively more power.

As teachers, our role is diverse. Particularly as a TAFE teacher, our job involves enrolment, marketing, getting the students in the door. We don’t have enough time to prepare our lessons and teach like we used to. So we need the union to help us make sure that our role is about teaching, not administration. We seem to be doing more administering and less teaching, and without the union’s support we wouldn’t be able to do our job as educators. Being part of the union gives teachers collectively more power.