For 10 years Debbie Milne has been the face of St John the Apostle at Florey in the ACT.
Debbie is Office Manager and takes pride in the fact she can put a name to the faces of all the students and parents that pass by her door.
She’s been associated with the school for a lot longer than she’s been a paid employee, as she started off as a volunteer parent before she began part-time work in the canteen, eventually moving to the office.
“I try to treat everyone as an individual and get to know all the families – how many children they have – when their children will be joining the school,” Debbie said.
“I’ve been to businesses where the receptionist is grumpy and it shouldn’t be like that. Everyone should feel welcome at the school.”
Debbie’s involvement with the children has gone beyond dealing with First Aid issues or accidents. She was involved in a program called Seasons of Growth for children from families who had suffered a loss through divorce, separation or death.
“I was a companion so I would take a group of about six children for an hour a week to discuss issues.”
Debbie joined the IEU about four years ago after an assistant principal suggested it.
“She pointed out that on the front office I am often alone with children, dealing with them for First Aid or helping them change their clothes if they’ve split something.
“She said this was a potentially dangerous situation and that getting the support and protection of the Union would be a good idea.”
Since she’s joined, Debbie has discovered other benefits.
In 2013 she attended Dealing with Difficult People PIP which she found “very interesting”.
“I think unfortunately in some schools there is a bit of a ‘them and us’ situation and support staff think the Union is for teachers, not them.
“I’d like to see more support staff get the information about the Union. I hope I never need call the Union personally but it’s nice to know you are supported.
“Regarding this current dispute with the employers, I think I’m okay but if I leave and someone else takes my position they may be worse off.
“I like to support the Union from that point of view.”