New organiser: Sue McKay

Sue McKay joined the IEU at the end of April, an important time to advocate for teachers and support staff of all stripes in early childhood, primary and secondary schools. Sue will be taking in the scenery and clocking up plenty of kilometres as she visits schools and centres between Parramatta in the west and Penshurst in the south.

Before joining the IEU, Sue worked in Catholic schools and the Department of Education and Training for almost 30 years. “English teaching was my starting point and careers and vocational education and training was where I left off,” Sue said. “Careers counselling became my passion and a focus for postgraduate study.

“For most of my teaching career I worked in secondary boys’ education, not by design but simply because way leads to way. The thing I miss most, besides my wonderful colleagues, is the noise and energy of the boys.”

Nonetheless, Sue is happy about her move to the union. “Working for the IEU feels like the right place to be right now,” she said. “Teachers and support staff in schools are among the most generous, creative, collaborative and authentic people I have encountered. It makes me bristle when key decision makers undermine the standing of our profession.”

Sue says taking up her new role during the coronavirus pandemic has presented her with some unforeseen challenges. “The political response has made it a really important time for unions,” she said. “Schools are still not back to normal, and I look forward to getting out to work with members in schools this term – it’s becoming possible now, although we’ll keep Zoom on standby for a bit longer.”

Beyond advising and supporting teachers, Sue is "looking forward to encouraging members to consider what the union is – not just an insurance policy and separate agency but the organisational wing of the collective,” she said. “I’m enjoying the learning, we know it never stops.” Sue welcomes the flexibility to go to the bathroom at any time – a freedom her counterparts in teaching lack.

Sue prefers coffee over tea and after hours, a glass of white wine – “unless it feels like a beer kind of day”, she said. Her favourite books include The Outsiders by S E Hinton (1967) and Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet (1991). During the coronavirus lockdown, she worked her way through seven seasons of Gossip Girl with her daughter. “It’s a little like watching the ABC test pattern but somehow you want more,” she said.

Teachers and support staff in schools area among the most generous, creative, collaborative and authentic people I have encountered.