Memories to treasure

Vice President Support Staff Carolyn Collins concludes 21-year term

It is with mixed feelings that I farewell my position as the inaugural Vice President Support Staff, as I will not be standing for re-election.

Hand on heart I will forever treasure the wealth of knowledge and friendships I have gained from working with such fine, astute people whose integrity is unquestionable.

Working with the IEU staff, Executive and members has been a fantastic experience, and I am thankful for support staff and teacher member support over all these years.

I will cherish the sense of community and friendship and keep it with me for the rest of my life. Being in this position has assisted me in showcasing support staff concerns and needs, along with our contribution to schools.

It hasn’t always been easy. Often demarcation lines have been drawn and breaking them down is a continuing process. Despite great progress, we're not quite there yet.

There is a lot more I wanted to accomplish before I left this position, yet I am satisfied with how far we have come with several issues such as parity with teachers on long service leave and sick leave in some sectors, job security and permanency for ongoing contracts.

Job security shouldn’t be so challenging. We demand a reasonable and just wage, and pay parity with our counterparts in the government system in particular.

The list also includes recognition of prior learning, years of experience and workload intensification.

Improvement is under way for many of these issues, but some employers need a bit more convincing to open their eyes to the added value school support staff provide. Schools could not run effectively without us school support staff. We are invaluable!

It has been a pleasure being associated with the IEU through its Executive, and I will genuinely miss it. Nevertheless, it is time to hand the baton on to the next IEU Vice President Support Staff (to be elected in coming months), who will continue the good fight for all.

Over the years I have always encouraged colleagues and members to get involved in the union at school, chapter, sub branch, Council and Executive levels. Unless we are seen and heard by our employers and other stakeholders, we will never have our voices acknowledged fairly.

We need to be a force to be reckoned with! Stand up, make your voice heard and fight for justice, for fair wages, manageable workloads, and proper recognition!

Note of thanks from IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam: Carolyn Collins’s advocacy for IEU support staff members is unparalleled. She has always sought inclusivity for support staff, particularly in the current Catholic systemic campaign, having advocated strongly to have payrises achieved in government schools in 2019 translated into other sectors. She is a tireless campaigner for support staff. We will miss Carolyn at IEU Executive meetings and we wish her well in the next phase of her life.