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Meet Your Branch Executive Candidates

If you haven’t already, you will soon receive your ballot papers in the post for our Branch Executive election. We have nine nominees, listed below in alphabetical order. 

Before you vote, take a moment to get to know the candidates and what they would bring to the Executive table. 

Tahlia Bruce

I am thrilled to stand for a position on Branch Executive. 

A proud union member since the beginning of my career, I am a passionate advocate of social justice for all. I currently sit as my sub-branch president and have held an executive role within a sub-branch for the past three years. Having earned the Bill Book scholarship, I have practical experience working alongside the AEU office and advocating for members. I am interested in departmental policies and can think strategically when working towards member gains. 

In my fourth year of teaching, I believe that I can bring a fresh perspective with the benefit of some experience. I feel strongly that with a united front, we can make a difference for our profession and students. 

Murray Chisholm

Hello colleagues! I have a broad perspective on the work of public school teachers in Canberra that I can bring to representing members in the work of the Branch Executive. I have been a teacher in public schools since 2001. I have taught at Chisholm, Stromlo, Lanyon, Dickson and Narrabundah and am now at Canberra College. In that time, I have been a classroom teacher as well as fulfilling administrative roles. 

I have been an AEU sub-branch officer and councillor for much of my career. Also, I have represented the AEU in the Education Directorate ESL advisory committee. 

Further, I previously served on the Branch Executive earlier this decade but took time out to study. Now that I have finished, I am happy to nominate to do my part to assist in the work of promoting public education and the welfare of teachers and students. And given the recent election results, there will be a lot of work for us all to do!

Trina Cleary

Use your voice and vote in this election for your AEU ACT Branch Executive representatives. Whoever you vote for, this is an opportunity for you to participate in our union’s democratic processes. We are stronger together when we all speak up and pitch in, so make sure you have your say.

I am a teacher unionist. I have been involved in AEU work as a sub-branch president and councillor for many years. Over the years, I have become a strong advocate for new educators and championed their workplace rights in our schools, as well as informing and empowering my more experienced colleagues. 

As the Anna Stewart intern for 2018, I gained an insight into the day-to-day operations of the AEU office and I am now ready to support our union by serving on the Branch Executive. 

A focus for me is increasing the participation and active involvement of AEU members, so I encourage you to get out your pens and vote as soon as you receive your ballot papers!

Peter Curtis

I am currently serving on our Executive. For eight years I have attended Branch Council, and I am the president of the Namadgi School Sub-Branch. I am active in the early childhood sector and your representative on the National Early Childhood Committee. 

I have 35 years of experience committed to building a fighting union movement. 

A World Fit for Children: We have a union that has the capacity to defend wages and conditions, but we should understand too that only a socially equitable society can provide a humane and compassionate world.

Stand Up and Fight for Public Education:  Funding for need is only a beginning. We currently struggle to meet the barest of needs; every child has the right to art, music, gardens, languages and a teacher librarian. 

No more NAPLAN: I have campaigned against this systematic abuse since its inception. 

We must play our part in making an independent program and strategy for the union movement. No more tagging along after the ALP: we are facing a major assault on all workers and our unions by an emboldened boss class. We need to educate each other, organise for ourselves, and agitate for a socially just and equitable future. 

Holly Godfree

Hello colleagues and friends. 

I’ve worked in ACT public education for 19 years in primary and senior secondary schools and have supported (and been supported by) our union in many ways over that time. I’ve worked in school libraries since 2005 and was recently named 2019 Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year. 

Some important local priorities for me include: 

  • continuing the AEU ACT’s excellent work on reducing occupational violence;
  • strengthening our union by increasing the engagement of our entire membership;
  • cutting down teacher workload; and
  • strengthening school library services for all students by hiring qualified teacher librarians and support staff. 

In the bigger picture, I feel very strongly about: 

  • acting to deal with the devastation to our natural environment; 
  • increasing the strength of unions across Australia and, through that, improving the wages and living conditions of people across our society; and
  • continuing to actively advocate for the fair funding of public education (preschools to TAFE) at the local and federal levels. 

I am seeking re-election as one of your general representatives on the AEU ACT Branch Executive because I have found it to be interesting and fulfilling (and even a manageable workload!). Vote Holly #1!

Ben Godwin

I have been a member of Branch Executive since June 2017.

I am currently teaching Global Studies and Legal Studies at Canberra College in the CLASS faculty. I have participated in a range of AEU activities and am dedicated at the sub-branch level. I previously held the sub-branch president role at Dickson College and have been a regular attendee at Branch Council as a councillor before sitting on Branch Executive. 

I am passionate about public education and would like to continue to support the work of the AEU and educators. We must have more young voices in our profession speaking up about work-life balance and mental health and wellbeing of teachers. 

Tony Kennedy

Dear AEU member, 

I wish to represent you on the AEU ACT Branch Executive. 

If elected, I will advocate for the interests of all AEU members. That is Learning Support Assistants, principals, and primary, high school, and college teachers, whether permanent, contract or casual employees. 

As a fulltime teacher, husband, father of a teenage daughter and a volunteer in our welcoming Canberra community, I am very aware of the pressures faced by teachers. I will work towards improving conditions for all our members. 

Having worked in other industries, including horticulture and the wine industry, I am most aware of the importance of having a unionised workforce. When I moved from South Australia to Victoria, I lost all benefits. This cost me $1000 per week. I taught in Japan for 12 years, where I became very aware of the difficulties workers faced when casualisation became the norm. I realise that these are some of the barriers we will face over the next four years. 

I have a strong sense of ethics, am dependable and I wish to advocate for you and a fairer community. I will work to make public education even better. I look forward to serving you, my fellow AEU member. 

Yours in solidarity. 

Karl-Erik Paasonen

I am an EALD teacher, currently at Telopea. I have been very active as a sub-branch president and councillor for some years, and currently sit on Branch Executive. 

If re-elected, I intend to pursue three main aims, related to strengthening the ability of sub-branch leaderships to implement the new EA:

  • identifying a set of system-wide norms regarding things like meetings and workloads, so sub-branches have a clear starting point to refer to;
  • creating an accessible handbook on how to interpret and implement the EA, for when difficulties arise;
  • finding new opportunities for training and experience for young activists. 

I also intend to continue contributing to bringing Branch policies up to date. 

Finally, I may write a scurrilous song about people who don’t vote for me. You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Katie Slater

I am a beginning teacher and have been a public educator for four years now in the ACT. I come from a family of public educators; both parents taught for over 30 years and my siblings are also public educators. 

I was on Branch Executive from 2017-2019. I am an active member within the union, attending events including the industrial retreat, intial New Educator Network meetings and conferences, International Women’s Day events, Women’s Network meetings and the public education dinners. 

Being re-elected to the Branch Executive will ensure there’s a young, beginning teacher to represent the hundreds in our ACT education system. 

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