New IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Organiser Veronica Yewdall hopes to show teachers and support staff that IEU membership is their best means of connecting with each other and making their opinions count.
Veronica will use her 35 years’ experience as a teacher in Sydney Catholic primary schools to encourage teachers and support staff that speaking out through the Union is better for themselves and better for their students.
“Some teachers and support staff are afraid that if they speak out they are somehow going against their whole philosophy of service,” Veronica said.
“Teachers and support staff have a very strong philosophy of service, but this is getting confused with subservience.
“It has detrimental effects on teachers and support staff wellbeing and also impacts directly on the classroom.
“I want to try and encourage teachers and support staff to turn up the volume of their voices, and that being outspoken is doing the right thing for their students as well as themselves.”
Veronica joined the ITA (as IEU was formerly known) at her first ever posting at St Mary’s Primary School in Georges Hall, but it was not until quite recently that she became more involved with the Union.
“In recent years there’s been a noticeable decrease in respect for the professional judgement of teachers.
“Teacher professionalism is being called into question and teachers are being pulled in too many directions.
“It became a source of frustration to me and I started to organise my own workplace around issues we were facing.
“I sought Union assistance for one of those issues and the organiser mentioned to me about the IEU’s Activist Conference.
“I attended the first ever Activist Conference and from there went on to be an IEU Council delegate for the Southern Suburbs Sub Branch.
“That was so useful to me as a chapter rep as I was getting the background on decisions and I was able to keep members at my school up to date with what was happening and explain a lot of things.”
Union membership among teachers and support staff at Veronica’s school grew to 100%, which Veronica puts down to being in touch with the IEU’s activities and having all the information to hand.
“Schools tend to be self absorbed places, so focused on students, and staff don’t often connect with others.
“One of my aims as an organiser is to show members that they can use the IEU as a bridge to connect to others and learn that other teachers and support staff are experiencing the same problems and feelings the same things as they are.
“When teachers and support staff act collectively on issues that affect them, they can create happier and more productive workplaces.”
Veronica will be covering schools, colleges and early learning centres in the Metropolitan East Sub Branch, and a few in the Kuringai Sub Branch.