Peakhurst Public School has an experienced activist in its Federation Representative Robyn Fletcher, but she sees the opportunity presented by the Gonski campaign for school funding as among Federation’s biggest ever challenges.
“Having campaigned hard for the Gonski reform and seeing Gillard support it and our state premier, I now feel that pressure should be placed on the Opposition to support the Gonski model if they are voted in at the September election,” Robyn said.
“Over the years I have been to many rallies and marches to fight for better conditions — usually banging a tambourine, blowing a whistle and chanting with my fellow teachers — and now I believe we have the biggest fight on our hands to campaign for further federal funding for students in public schools,” she also said.
Robyn worked hard on behalf of her school to register an online submission to the Gonski review. “My colleagues gave me their opinions and I compiled our staff response,” she said. “I also talked to our parent body and was pleased to say they supported our position in trying to stop budget cuts and to promote equity to all students for their education.”
One of the main responsibilities of a Fed Rep, Robyn believes, is to educate her workmates about the issues that Federation pursues. The union’s strength comes when its entire membership is informed and united on an issue.
“I try to encourage my colleagues to keep up to date with the latest information by visiting the website and reading Education. The union is our voice and we need to be aware of the present campaigns so that we can stand united in our cause to maintain teaching conditions along with registering our support to funding public schools adequately, as in the Gonski model.
“I am in the union because I believe that as a united group of professionals we have a larger voice when we negotiate with government,” she explained.
“I have seen our union work hard to forge better working conditions for our profession and this in turn makes our schools a better place to work.”
The input of fellow members in the workplace has proved very helpful for Robyn in what has been a busy year. Involving others has the added benefit of fostering the next generation of activists.
“This year, five of my colleagues agreed to form a Federation Workplace Committee and this way the job will be shared between us in our future campaigning,” she said. “I would like to see the younger members of the committee going to training at Federation and possibly taking on the role of Fed Rep in the future.”
Robyn suggested that Fed Reps invite their Federation Organiser to school meetings to help keep colleagues up to date and provide clarifications for any concerns raised.
“Our Organiser, Leeanda Smith, has come to our workplace each year to talk about many issues,” she said. “These meetings have been most helpful in encouraging our young members of staff to hear about the conditions that have been fought for over the years. Thank you, Leeanda.”
Out of school, Robyn likes to go to trivia nights, go walking and listen to live music. However, while she is eager to see young activists emerge and take over the Fed Rep reins, she insisted, “I still enjoy the role.”