The union movement’s strong tradition of campaigning in song was alive at Federation Annual Conference, Federation President Maurie Mulheron said.
The second day’s program opened with Aboriginal Education Restricted Committee member Gary Cattanach’s first public performance of his own song, “Recognise”, which deals with Aboriginal recognition within the Australian Constitution.
The Nambucca Heads High School teacher said he wrote the song a few months ago, after meeting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and representatives from Recognise, the people’s movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.
“I went home really charged and the song started springing out of me.”
He said the first version was a “finger-picking ballard” but the one performed at Annual Conference was “more of a campaign song”.
“If it’s infectious, I’ve done my job,” he said.
Mr Cattanach doesn’t consider himself a performer (“I write and play for myself”) and is looking for a singer or choir to share the song more widely. He said he is open to having the song “re-arranged and chopped”.
Mr Cattanach was the recipient of the Australian Education Union’s 2014 Arthur Hamilton Award for outstanding contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education.