AEU SA Journal | VOL 54 | #2 | OCTOBER 2022

Campaigns 
that unite us

Like any democratic organisation, we won’t always agree. Callum Penley, Campaign Director, looks at our role in uniting the profession through strong campaigns for change. 

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While browsing a Facebook group set up during the last enterprise bargaining campaign, I came across a post which said, “I’m leaving this group because people keep complaining about the union. You ARE the union.” 

As we embark on this next campaign to bargain for a better future, it’s a reminder that we are a union of people whose experiences and opinions are crucial to our collective success. At the end of it all, there will be those who are happy with all we’ve managed to secure, and those who won’t be. The important part is that everyone’s involvement has been welcomed and that together, we have acted. 

Educators are the best people to make decisions about the conditions within which they work, and our recent Public Education Forums illustrated that. There is no group of people more committed to teaching and learning than you. That’s why it’s crucial you keep us accountable and continue to show up and get involved.

The teacher shortage crisis has quickly become part of the national conversation, and I am proud that as part of our campaign, South Australian educators are asserting their role in proposing solutions to fix it. Our bargaining claim will be unapologetically for educators, by educators, which will be difficult for decision-makers to ignore. 

For TAFE, our upcoming Symposium is an opportunity for community and industry to come together and develop a vision for TAFE which will be influential in the State Government’s long-overdue review. 

In my mind, these are our first steps in a more constructive direction for campaigns pioneered by the AEU. Unions across the world are grappling with their role in society and increasingly I find myself in conversations with young people trying to explain what we do. Campaigns which unite us will be fundamental to the future success of our union and the professional profile of public educators more broadly. 

It’s an exciting time as we build our strength and engage the education workforce with accessible, understandable union business you can — and should — be part of. Whether or not we all agree on the specifics of every decision, we must continue to remember the values we share and the value we provide as a progressive voice for public education. It’s very difficult to argue with that.

I look forward to playing a small role in setting this direction and working alongside you all as we continue the good fight for better working conditions and public education outcomes.

Callum Penley 
Callum commenced as the AEU’s Campaign Director in May this year, returning to Adelaide from campaign and communications roles with the Labour Party in New Zealand.