Time capsule 2001

In a semi-regular column, we delve into our Newsmonth archives to find out what was happening in the union, the education sector and the teaching profession. This issue, we rewind 20 years to 2001.

It was the year of the September 11 terror attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre. In the aftermath, there was a spike in verbal and physical attacks on Australia’s Islamic community. The IEU instigated a Workplace Harmony Campaign through which staff and students at Catholic schools sent letters of support to staff and students at Malek Fahd Islamic School.

A look back at politics tells us the prime minister was John Howard and the federal education minister was David Kemp followed by Brendan Nelson. In NSW, Bob Carr was premierand the education minister was John Aquilina followed by John Watkins.

If all the world’s a stage, it was a good year culturally for Australasia: A Beautiful Mind, a biopic based on the life of American mathematician John Nash, and starring New Zealander Russell Crowe, took out Best Picture at the Academy Awards, while Australian author Peter Carey won the Booker prize for True History of the Kelly Gang.

It was the International Year of Volunteers. While it mayseem hard to believe now, the Times Person of the Year was Rudy Giuliani, who was Mayor of New York City during the September 11 attacks. The Nobel Peace Prize went to the United Nations headed by Kofi Annan, “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.

Back in Australia, the NRL Premiers were the Newcastle Knights. In the ARIA Music Awards, the kings of the power ballad, Powderfinger, took out Album of the Year for Odyssey Number Five and best single for My Happiness. The Australian of the Year was Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove, former Governor-General and former Chief of Australia’s Defence Force.

Support staff

In 2001, the IEU elected its first Vice President Support Staff, to Executive. In 2021, we congratulate Carolyn Collins on 20 years of positive and meaningful advocacy on behalf of our support staff members and for helping expand support staff membership.


The top rate of pay for a teacher in a Catholic systemic school was $54,378.

The Ramsay Taskforce was established to advise the NSW Government on implementing its recommendation to establish an Institute of Teachers. Then IEU Deputy Secretary Patrick Lee and then Assistant Principal of St Kevin’s at Eastwood, Kathy Young, represented the non-government sector.

At the time, IEU Assistant Secretary Gloria Taylor said: “Such a body would need to be an independent, statutory organisation with practising teachers forming the majority of the governing body.”

The Carr Government introduced legislation to weaken the state’s workers compensation scheme. Union members across NSW, including IEU members, stopped work to attend meetings in bowling clubs, sports clubs and RSL clubs, broadcast simultaneously by Sky Channel (today we'd use Zoom).

Although the legislation ultimately passed, the union movement achieved important improvements. Nevertheless, workers were left worse off. And the attacks on workers compensation keep coming: in 2020, the NSW Government’s icare scheme (which replaced WorkCover in 2015) was embroiled in scandal and near collapse.


In 2001, the IEU boasted a total of 21,403 members. We welcomed 2334 new members and, of these, 512 are still members who still work in non-government schools. We are pleased to have posted them 20-year certificates recently.

We are always stronger together.

David Towson
Monica Crouch