Several committees of practising teachers and support staff regularly consult with the union on its work, ensuring it reflects the current demands of the membership.
Those committees are: Professional Engagement, Environment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory and Women and Equity Committees.
In this series, we take a closer look at the work of each committee. Last issue we featured the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee. This issue it’s the turn of the Environment Committee.
One of the main roles of the committee is to oversee the IEU’s Environment Grants, sponsored by Teachers Mutual Bank. Each year about 40 schools and early childhood education centres apply for a grant to carry out environmental and sustainability projects (see above).
The committee also organises conferences and workshops for members on environmental and sustainability issues and participates in political and social justice action.
For instance, the committee supports the School Strike 4 Climate, and this year participated in the huge May Day march opposing a nuclear submarine base at Port Kembla.
Members of the committee have been travelling to the Pilliga region to support the Gomeroi people’s fight to stop Santos drilling for coal seam gas in their area.
Members also participate in the ACTU Climate Action Group. IEU member Will Pollock said,” I saw the ‘sign-up sheet’ for the environment committee and thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to become more engaged in both the work of the union, but also in promoting awareness of environmental issues locally and more broadly”.
“I’ve been a geography teacher for 23 years and have a great interest in the ways in which humans interact with the environment and vice-versa,” Will said.
“I thought joining the committee would be a great way to develop some personal skills and have a greater understanding of grassroots responses to environmental issues that I could use to assist in my teaching.
“I was deeply moved by the talk about the Santos gas project and its impact in the Pilliga, and although I wasn’t able to get out there with the union, I’m hoping to be able to show solidarity in other such actions in the future.”
The members of the committee are: Richard Ryan (Convenor), Anthony Telford, Berna Simpson, David Whitcombe, Jackie Groom, Josef Dabbs, Katie Camarena, Liam Griffiths, Lyn Caton, Will Pollock and Alex Wharton.