Meet the IEU’s new Executive member

Aboriginal Education Worker Kylie Booth-Martinez shares her thoughts in a speech on taking a seat at the IEU Council table.

I’m a proud Wiradjuri woman from Bathurst in central-western NSW.

I have worked as an Aboriginal Education Worker for 17 years at the Assumption Primary School and also at St Stanislaus College in the day school and boarding school. I’m a mother of three, a wife and a daughter.

Now I must tell you that in my young adult life I wasn’t in a union. I’m the daughter of a shearer and I’ve overheard my fair share of negative stories about union bosses. So, my view wasn’t a positive one. But that has changed!

After a couple of years working at the Assumption School, I met IEU Organiser Jackie Groom. I liked what she was saying and I liked the information she was giving. After a while I thought I want to be a part of this – I need the IEU!

Jackie and Organiser Marilyn Jervis recognised my interest and off I went to the IEU’s Activists Conference in Leura, many years ago now. Well, I was sold!

I knew this was where I was meant to be: in a roomful of likeminded people who wanted to make changes, make a difference. A room of people who were not afraid to speak up. As an Aboriginal woman working in a support role that’s not always easy, but here I felt safe and valid.

I was hungry for more and knew I definitely wanted to be a part of this Mob.

I’ve been on IEU Council for several years now. I’m a member of the BOLD community [Building our Leadership Development]; the Women and Equity Committee; and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee. I’m currently working with the Support Staff Working Party.

In March I had the amazing opportunity to represent the IEU in an historic delegation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unionists to Parliament House in Canberra. Our aim was to progress the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Voice to Parliament [see ‘Raise the Voice’, pp in IE magazine issue 2, 2021]

The IEU has given me a place where I can have a voice and a sense that what I have to say is important.

I love a yarn and I love to hear both sides of all discussion but always with the goal to make lives better.

On hearing that there was a casual vacancy on the IEU Executive I thought, “Yes! Yes, I’ll have a go. I’ll have a crack and see if it’s my time to sit at that table.”

As a proud Aboriginal woman working in support I want to be at that table. I want to have a voice – a voice for my Aboriginal brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and our youth who are our future elders, for woman and people working in support. I feel it’s my responsibility.

I want better conditions for workers. I want a better, safer future for my children and others.

One of my favourite Aboriginal proverbs says: “We are all visitors to this place. We are all just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love – then we return home.”

Well before I go home, I want to do all I can to make a change.