In early December 2021, the IEU presented Karen Richardson with a compendium in appreciation of her 40 years in the union. Karen taught at Wenona School in North Sydney for all but the first year of her career.
Karen (pictured, left) has a standout memory of joining Wenona. “Someone who recommended the job to me said, ‘my most important bit of advice is join the union’,” she said.
“And I think that is fantastic advice because I’ve had two lots of maternity leave, and neither were paid. Paid maternity leave is just one of the advances the union has fought for. I think it’s just amazing.”
Professional Officer Veronica Yewdall (pictured, right) said the union could only take up and win this battle because of people such as Karen who join the union and stay. “It’s incredibly important work, and we couldn’t do it otherwise,” she said.
Another perennial issue is workload. “We’ve been talking about workload for so long and [employers] just consistently refused to do anything. It doesn’t get any easier. All the paperwork – it’s enormous.”
She noted the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) in particular. “The documentation that goes with registers and programs and adjustments is big. And it’s all linked to funding – if we don’t have this enormous amount of detail, we’d lose our funding.”
The union has had a breakthrough on this front too, having negotiated revised requirements with the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment [see page 9].
“We hope we’ll be able to transfer that to other workload issues that have run rampant for the last few years,” Veronica said.
Karen said she always read the union’s publications and would leave items lying around for non-union staff to see.
“We want what’s good for education and for each other,” she said.