Onwards and upwards in 2023

AEU Branch Secretary, Leah York reflects on the year that was, the significant wins achieved by our union, and the coming of a new strategic plan.

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If you have any queries, please contact Branch Secretary, Leah York  at   or on 0417 894 085

Following another year of challenges for our profession, 2022 has yet again highlighted the inadequate resourcing of South Australia’s public education system. Workloads across our preschools, schools and TAFE campuses are damaging to the wellbeing of our members and the children and students we teach. Educators’ goodwill continues to be exploited. 

However, with the year ending, it is important to recap some of the significant wins we have managed to achieve: 

+ A new Enterprise Agreement for TAFE Educational Staff – achieving a small salary increase with no trade-offs - maintaining all conditions in the face of government pressure to diminish the professional capacity of lecturers and educational managers.  + Successful election campaigns at both state and federal levels of government to highlight the funding needs for public education and TAFE. + Commissioning the University of South Australia to undertake crucial research into the working conditions of teachers that was launched on 3 November 2022.  + Working collaboratively with the South Australian Government and the Department for Education to identify onerous systems of bureaucracy that impede teaching and learning outcomes for students. An example was our IESP Roundtable, which highlighted the grueling and convoluted process teachers need to go through to receive funding for students in need. 
We are now in the final year of a three-year strategic plan (2020-2022). This plan called on us to use our industrial and professional strength to achieve, among other things, a well-resourced public education system and improved working conditions for educators. The ongoing global pandemic and significant cost of living increases have presented additional challenges, and understandably members have had to make tough decisions about their employment and their union membership.  

"To increase our capacity to campaign effectively we all need to focus on the recruitment of new AEU members and work collectively to achieve outcomes for all public education workers."
As we commence enterprise bargaining for schools and preschools, we are developing our strategic framework for the next three years (2023-2025). We are working through Branch Executive to develop a draft of our priorities for the consideration of Branch Council in March 2023. These include: 

Advocating for our members 

We ensure that no matter what interaction a member first has, information, support and advocacy are provided in a timely, professional, and consistent manner. 

Campaigning to win 

Campaigns that unite us are fundamental to the future success of our union. We build our strength and engage educators who see the union as an effective path forward when seeking reform and change. 

Building the professional profile of educators  

An increasingly hostile media landscape means public education, and by extension, the professional profile of public educators, is under threat.  Through coordinated strategies, our strong collective voice is used to highlight the important work of public educators and their value to society. 

Recruitment and retention 

As unions around the world work to maintain relevance, we must reimagine and reinvigorate the value we provide to our members. We are responsive to their career journey, inspire action through collective identity, and ensure involvement is easy and accessible. 

Building a strong, sustainable union 

Our proud history should be celebrated, even as we look to the future. Together, we stand united in pursuit of fundamental changes to the public education system.  

Reconciliation and cultural sensitivity 

As the AEU continues on its path towards reconciliation, we ensure the voices of Aboriginal people are heard. We pursue system-level reforms and industrial conditions which facilitate the fair and equitable participation of Aboriginal people in public education. 

Only by standing together can we achieve our vision, ‘united as educators, we are a professional union which protects, promotes and enhances an inclusive public education for all South Australians.’

There is too much at stake for us to be divided. If South Australia’s public education workforce is to be given a fair go in 2023, we must find strength in numbers. 

LEAH YORKE
BRANCH SECRETARY, AEU SA