Frank Doyle has been fighting the good fight for many decades, even taking a case for teachers’ rights to the high court, with the Union’s backing.
A Visual Arts teacher, he became involved with the Union almost as soon as he entered the profession 36 years ago.
The arts school graduate has taught a broad spectrum of subjects, including Photography, Drama, Graphic Design and Design Technology, but Visual Arts are his real passion, particularly ceramics. He had a two year sabbatical in Japan over a decade ago studying ceramics and held a successful show there.
“The art room is a place where students are enthused to learn and feel safe so open up more and start a conversation. It’s always given me a connection with students,” Frank said.
When he started his career at Hamilton Marist Brothers High School he became a Chapter Rep, and has been a Rep for most of his career. He even had a stint as Vice-President in the Hunter Valley Branch.
“I can remember jumping on a bus to drive to a Union Council meeting to change the constitution, that’s how strongly we felt about things.”
When Frank received a Masters in Educational Studies in the 80s he requested a pay rise from his employers, which was rejected. He took the issue to the Union and that became a high court case, which lasted about two years.
The Union was ultimately successful and Frank and other teachers with masters level education won a pay rise.
“I was proud that the Union did that on our behalf. All I really had to do was write a letter requesting clarification of the situation to the employer.”
Frank also believes in equal pay for all teachers across Australia. When he moved from NSW to the ACT in 1997, he lost 6% of his pay, and then another 5% when NSW teachers got a pay rise but ACT staff did not.
He believes teachers should be able to work anywhere in the country for the same rates.
He’s also an advocate for teacher exchange, having been to Canada.
Fair pay has been a big motivation ever since he became a Chapter Rep, and he’s disappointed that teachers had to fight over pay in the recent dispute with Catholic employers.
“A lot is asked of teachers, and I don’t think we should have to be fighting over salary and conditions.”
At his present post at St Mary MacKillop College, Frank has been a supporter of an innovative project run by the school whereby student teachers from the Australian Catholic University spend two days a week immersed in the school.
“It’s not like the old prac system, it’s the closest experience students can get to working in a school. Students that have become teachers have told me how much they appreciate the project. It’s become a model that’s been presented overseas by our campus head.”
As Rep, Frank has worked through some issues from staff concerned about interacting with the students during recess and lunch breaks.
Even though he is an experienced activist himself, Frank said he has had to call upon the Union for support in the past.
“I don’t know how things would have worked out without Union backing,” he said.
‘It’s a professional association that provides tremendous support as well as the chance of professional dialogue with members from different walks of life and different experiences of teaching. It has been a strong provider of professional learning opportunities and other member benefits.
“If employers always did the right thing by employees there’d be no need for a union. But time and again its been proven that it’s really important to have an advocate, a voice to support you.”