70 years strong in 2024

This year marks an important milestone for the IEU: our 70-year anniversary. And we need you to tell us your stories.

But first, a little history. On 24 September 1954 a group of male teachers held a meeting at Sydney Grammar School. They adopted a draft constitution of the Assistant Masters’ Association (AMA) and elected an interim committee of eight men to “conduct the AMA’s affairs”. A full election for office bearers was to be conducted in March 1955.

By mid-November 1954, membership of the AMA stood at 51. The committee thought the AMA needed a minimum of 150 members to be viable. In April 1955 there were 157 members; but numbers fell below 150 later that year.

While women could join the AMA, they were not inclined to as they generally weren’t employed in independent boys’ schools. In 1965, a Mrs Martin from Queenwood accepted an invitation to attend AMA Council along with 20 other representatives from seven other independent girls’schools.

In 1966, in what was to be a pivotal year for our union, the AMA’s Annual General Meeting agreed to admit women teachers from girls’ schools by a vote of 21 to 8. A vote to change the name of the union to the Assistant Masters’ and Mistresses’ Association (AMMA) was subsequently carried 18 to 3. It would remain the AMMA until 1972 when it became the NSW Independent Teachers’ Association (ITA).

In 1994 the ITA became the Independent Education Union, to reflect coverage of support staff in non-government schools.

From these humble beginnings, in 2024 the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch enjoys a collective strength of more than 32,000 members supported by 80 staff across five offices.

As we approach our 70-year anniversary, we’re planning to share our history in the pages of Newsmonth, with the help of former office holders from the Assistant Masters’ and Mistresses’ Association (AMMA), the Independent Teachers’ Association (ITA) and the current IEU.

But we need to hear from our members too. If you have any stories, articles or memorabilia that may be of interest to our IEU history project, please email us: history@ieu.asn.au