IEU rep steps up for Labor in state election

Music teacher Sally Quinnell is putting her experience advocating for students and colleagues to good use by standing for the ALP at the 25 March state election in the seat of Camden.

Sally is the IEU Rep at St Anthony’s Catholic College Padua, where she has worked for two years. Even though she is the sole member of the music department, she was still keen to become the rep.

“We have a great team of members who all work together, and we have a great rapport with the executive, so we have a good ability to discuss things,” Sally said.

Graduating from Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1999, Sally has seen in it all in education. She started off in the public system, went to teach in England for a while, came back to Sydney Catholic Schools, then the Wollongong diocese, went into the independent sector, ran her own music tutoring business and is now back with Sydney Catholic Schools. She has taught K-12, through numerous different pedagogies but, she jokes, still the same syllabus.

“At my very first staff meeting, an older teacher came and sat next to me and asked me if I was in the union. She said joining the union was like taking out house insurance. Accidents can happen at any time, and the union always has your back. That stuck with me, and I use the same story myself as IEU Rep.”

Another discussion Sally remembers from her first staff meeting was a prediction of a teacher shortage in 20 years’ time.

“I remember thinking that’s ridiculous. I was so proud to have landed a full-time job as it was so difficult to get one. Look where we are now.”

Sally stood at the previous state election and enjoyed the second biggest swing in the state towards Labor.

She said Camden is a bellwether seat, meaning it is usually held by the party that forms government. But being on the margins of Sydney, part suburban and part rural, it is easily overlooked, and she thinks particularly so for the past decade.

The Camden area and its people don’t always get represented the way they should, and I want to change that by being a strong voice in Parliament for the area I cherish so much.

“I want to make sure we’re not being taken for granted. The Camden area and its people don’t always get represented the way they should, and I want to change that by being a strong voice in Parliament for the area I cherish so much.”

Sally is especially concerned with how fast new development has occurred in Camden, but how slow the current government has been to respond by building schools, hospitals and transport.

“We are slated to receive the population of Canberra soon and we are so far behind with government services it’s tragic. It’s a terrible situation when kids don’t have a local school to attend, and residents travel 40 minutes to the closest hospital then wait hours to be seen.”

As someone who has spent her career advocating for students, and for her colleagues as an IEU Rep, Sally feels she has the right background for the job.

Apart from advocating for better education funding, she is passionate about supporting nurses and the health system.

When she is not running the college’s music department, acting as IEU Rep or vying to represent the seat of Camden, Sally is also the mother of three children aged 14-19, sings at her local church, St Paul’s Camden, and plays in a 1970s-80s cover band called Better Days Band.

The band was formed by a group of dads who met through their children attending St Anthony’s, and Sally asked if she could get involved as a singer.

“We don’t play that many gigs as we’re all so busy, but it’s great fun when we do.”

Sue Osborne