The IEU welcomed a new organiser specialising in the early childhood sector to its ranks in January.
Kate Damo has extensive experience, having worked as a teacher and director for more than 30 years since she graduated from university in Canberra.
Initially she worked in government preschools in the ACT, both rural and urban, which she said was a “different” but enjoyable experience compared with her time at a community preschool in NSW.
She was teacher/director at Birrahlee Preschool in Sydney’s Lane Cove for 12 years, a large service catering for 160 families a week.
More recently she worked in support and advocacy at Community Early Learning Australia (CELA). She was employed there at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety in the sector, as COVID was beginning to bite in the community.
Kate said she spent many hours assisting teachers who were concerned about staff shortages, vaccinations, funding and simply coping with the pandemic.
“I spent a lot of time supporting people who were just burnt out, particularly directors in community-based centres with a parent committee.”
A long-time IEU member, Kate said this was when she realised more than ever how important IEU membership is for early childhood teachers and directors.
“Many of the people calling needed support around industrial issues that CELA couldn’t offer.
“When they are at the mercy of a parent committee, teachers are quite vulnerable.”
Kate plans to educate non-members about the importance of union membership, which offers access to protection and advice, especially for those who work in centres where they have limited support networks.