Time capsule: 1984

As we honour our 40-year IEU members, we cast our minds back to the year they joined the union: 1984

Let’s start with what we know best: education and unions. The Independent Teachers Association (ITA), as the NSW Branch of the IEU was then known, had 11,010 members at the end of 1984. (We now have more than 32,000.)

There was one Award for teachers in non-government schools. The top salary rate for a four-year and five-year trained teacher was $27,465 per annum. The starting salary for a one-year trained teacher was $12,849 per annum. Back then, there was such a thing as a one-year trained teacher.

In 1984, teachers in government schools received release time. The ITA asked non-government employers to provide the same for primary school teachers in non-government schools who received no release and taught 26.25 hours per week.

ITA members held mass meetings on the issue of redundancies in Sydney Catholic schools.

Computer technology was just beginning to find its way into homes and schools, and Federal Science and Technology Minister Barry Jones gave an opening address at the ITA’s symposium on “Technology’s Challenge to Schools” urging caution on computer education.

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA was established in 1984 (see below), and the ITA affiliated with APHEDA. The IEU is proud of its 40-year partnership with APHEDA.

The ITA made a claim (“Keeping Teachers in Good Repair”) for long service leave to be improved to catch up with entitlements for teachers in government schools. The union resolved at the Annual Conference, held on 24-25 November 1984, to make long service leave the number one industrial and professional issue for 1985.

The Independent Teachers Federation of Australian (ITFA), as the federal IEUA was then known, passed a resolution in favour of the elimination of corporal punishment in schools.

Federal and state arenas

In the national arena, Australia’s Prime Minister was Bob Hawke, under whose leadership Labor introduced Medicare.

Hawke announced Advance Australia Fair as the national anthem (Queensland objected, preferring to keep “God save the Queen” a bit longer). The opening line of the anthem was also changed from “Australia’s sons, let us rejoice” to the more inclusive “Australians all, let us rejoice”. Hawke was re-elected in 1984, defeating Liberal Party Leader Andrew Peacock.

The Federal Education Minister in 1984 was Senator Susan Ryan, who opposed the reintroduction of fees for tertiary education despite strong support for the fees in Cabinet (HECS was eventually introduced in 1989).

In 1984, the Australian of the Year was Aboriginal activist Lowitja O’Donoghue, who became the inaugural chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission from 1990 to 1996. Dr O’Donoghue passed away on 4 February this year.

In NSW, Labor Premier Neville Wran won a fourth term in government, and the NSW Education Minister was Rodney Cavalier.

And on 14 May 1984, Australians welcomed the shiny gold $1 coin into the economy, replacing the brown $1 paper note.

Arts, sport and culture

In the cultural sphere, Terms of Endearment took out Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner won the Booker Prize.

In the Countdown Music Awards, Best Album went to INXS for The Swing, and Best Single to Heaven Must Be There by the Eurogliders.

Band Aid, a star-studded super-group of singers and musicians assembled by Bob Geldof, recorded the charity single Do they know it’s Christmas? in London to raise money to combat famine in Ethiopia. It was released on 3 December and reportedly raised ?8 million within a year.

The 1984 NSWRL Premiers were Canterbury-Bankstown.

Elsewhere in the world

On the international stage, the Nobel Peace Prize went to South African Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu “for his role as a unifying leader in the non-violent campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa”.

Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her security guards, heralding the beginning of deadly anti-Sikh riots in India.

The Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles. Although boycotted by the Soviet Union, 140 nations still took part, an Olympic record of its own at the time.

David Towson Deputy Secretary

Monica Crouch Journalist

David Towson
IEU Assistant Secretary
Monica Crouch