A crowd of 500 strong and determined IEU and NSW Teachers Federation members united at Thoroughbred Park to rally in support of better salaries and conditions.

Members came from at least 20 ACT and NSW Catholic schools, with many returning for their second day of action. Teachers Federation members came from Goulburn, Queanbeyan, Yass and Cooma. Solidarity came in the form of everyone, including members in ACT independent schools who were already on term break, and from UnionsACT and affiliates.

IEUA Acting Federal Secretary Christine Cooper took her decorating duties seriously, festooning the space with flags, signs, posters and coreflutes.

Angela MacDonald, a teacher at St Thomas Aquinas Charnwood and member of the IEU Executive, took to the podium amid a flurry of loud and committed supporters.

Angela began by referencing the NAIDOC Week theme of “Get up! Stand up! Show up!” She told members of the direct impact the NSW Government wages policy has on negotiations for a new enterprise agreement in NSW and ACT Catholic systemic schools.

Daniel Burns of John Paul College Nicholls spoke of the harsh impacts of the teacher shortage, non-competitive wages, and the feeling that more and more teachers are facing burnout.

A special guest appearance from Star Wars’ Princess Leia and Yoda (the IEU’s inimitable Kate McDonald, a drama teacher) had the crowd laughing and singing.

Media attention was plentiful, with members Madeline Evans, Andrew Blakey, Shane Devoy and Nick Greeney telling their stories. One school that was well represented at the rally was pleased to see a former student behind the camera ensuring both unions were given good coverage.

We thank Seamus Farrell, Michael McFadden, Teena Zorbi and Susanne Radnidge (ACT Office) for helping ensure a successful day. And a big shout-out to reps for attending and encouraging other members to join with you.

Berna Simpson