It helps members to have an active second point of contact in a large school so Women’s Contact Amanda Hayes works in close partnership with Fed Rep (and Life Member) Mandy Wells at Fairfield Public School in Sydney’s densely-populated west. “Members can catch either me or the Fed Rep when issues arise, and we are both on the same page with advice and information,” Ms Hayes said.
She got her Women’s Contact trainers on early, when preparing to take up the role in 2014. She was required, as part of her training, to respond to a current workplace issue and develop an action plan. The issue at hand was a teacher who required lactation breaks after returning from maternity leave.
“The Fed Rep and I tracked down information showing how Federation had achieved lactation breaks for women in other schools. We used this knowledge to devise a plan for our workplace in consultation with the principal,” Ms Hayes said.
The plan allowed the teachers time during the school day to have privacy in a specific room with the facilities they needed.
“I was happy that the member trusted me enough to disclose her need and to help resolve the issue to her satisfaction,” Ms Hayes said. “She was relieved. The school maintained the process for all returning mothers.”
Ms Hayes is an aspiring school leader, in her second year of relieving as assistant principal and involved in @COSLead (Community of Schools leadership program). She works with the Fed Rep to update members on pay, conditions and campaigns.
“I speak at our admin meetings and Federation meetings alongside Mandy and for Mandy in her absence,” she said. “I attend the Fairfield TA meetings and often read out the school report written by the Fed Rep. I attend community events and represent our association at major functions such as Stewart House’s Gonski events and Community Day of Action.”
Ms Hayes urges members to take advantage of Federation structures and activities for mutual benefit. “Becoming a part of their workplace committee is a great way to become involved in union matters,” she said. “I come from a family whose members have always been in unions – my mum with the NSW nurses’ union and my dad who was a union delegate and vice-president of the Vehicle Division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
“To have a safe, fair and well-resourced workplace requires everyone to be active and for some of us to take the lead.
“The benefits I inherited at the beginning of my career from the actions of other members — release from face-to-face teaching, maternity leave rights, long service leave, regulated class sizes, to name a few — need to be protected and improved.”
She encourages members aspiring to be Women’s Contacts to attend association meetings so that they can see how easy it is to be active and informed.
“I would highly recommend the Fundamentals for Federation Representatives and Women’s Contacts’ course,” she added. “As a newly-elected Women’s Contact I found the training beneficial and it is a great opportunity to network with likeminded colleagues.”
In her leisure time, Ms Hayes watches movies and is an avid NRL fan — "I love the Wests Tigers and I am a season ticket holder so try to go to as many games as possible (including interstate). I’m also trying to win the school footy tipping competition that I organise.”
A chocolate-coloured young labrador frolics around her when she’s at home these days, demanding walks and games. There’s a lot of time spent recovering non-chew items that have been chewed …