About

We are your union. 

Our membership covers educators working in government schools and workplaces including Batchelor Institute and VET/TAFE at Charles Darwin University (CDU). 

Each Australian state and territory has their own AEU branch or associated body. You need to join the relevant branch for the jurisdiction in which you currently work – in your case, us – the AEU Northern Territory Branch. We represent all teachers in NT public education and have the right to represent education support workers who engage directly with students in a teaching and learning capacity such as assistant teachers, school council employed tutors and some school support staff.

Winning Aspirations

Our strategic vision and guiding principles are embedded within our ‘Winning Aspirations’. They are:

  1. Membership, Leadership and Activism

    Our unions is strong and effective presence in all schools and public education workplaces. We have powerful and dynamic leaders driving activism in all workplaces.
  2. Working Conditions

    Our union has highly skilled, active, and informed members who understand and enforce our rights at work.
  3. Indigenous Education

    Our union champions the equitable and representative participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. Our Aboriginal members are the first point of contact for decision-making relating to Indigenous education policy.
  4. Health and Safety

    All staff, students and community have clear expectations around work, health and safety, backed up by clear policy. Every school and every workplace is a safe and healthy place.
  5. Increasing Influence and Political Power

    We lead the education conversation in the Northern Territory. We challenge government to implement policies aimed at improving public education outcomes and hold them to account as required.

What We Do

The AEU is proud to represent the people who have the most important job in the country – educating people of all ages. We are proud to be advocates for a quality public education which is accessible to all Australians.

Our working conditions and entitlements have mostly been won by many decades of collective struggle and effort. In education our union voice remains strong because we maintain a high level of membership and engagement among teachers and educators. This gives teachers a stronger voice when dealing with workplace management and governments. Governments and employers know that if they challenge teachers and educators, they must deal with us!

Supporting education across Australia

As one of the largest unions in Australia, the AEU has the capacity to campaign at every level to promote positive change. In recent years the AEU has been instrumental in pressuring both federal and state governments to implement positive reforms to public education.

Local support with national backing

The AEU NT Branch is an affiliate of the Australian Education Union. Nationally we have over 190,000 members across all states and territories, working as principals, teachers and support educators in schools, TAFE institutes, Corrections Education, Adult Migrant Education Services, and early childhood education centres.

Remember, there are some slight differences in eligibility across branches and don’t forget to resign from any interstate branch you are leaving and join up with your new one!

Our Team

One advantage of being the smallest branch in the country is that it’s easy to get to know our people!

The office staff, led by Branch Secretary Rachael Metcalfe and Branch President Michelle Ayres are supported and kept in line by our fabulous Administration Manager Janette Moore.

Office veteran, Mick McCarthy is our Special Projects Officer, taking the lead on industrial issues with Jengis Osman providing support on individual member cases. Bridget O’Dwyer leads membership and recruitment as branch organiser and hopes to visit your school soon!

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Mick McCarthy

Special Projects Officer (Industrial)

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Jengis Osman

Project Officer (Industrial Support)

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Bridget O’Dwyer

Organiser (Membership & Recruitment)

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Janette Moore

Administration Manager

Structure & Governance

The AEU is a democratic organisation governed by a constitution and registered under the Fair Work Act. At every level - the workplace, the region, and the Territory as a whole - we have structures to ensure that our union is guided by the collective voice of our members.

Being registered under the Fair Work Act allows us to enter formal enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations with Government on your behalf. This is what sets us apart from other so-called ‘unions’ that have sprung up in recent times and other bodies such as professional associations. While these groups can advocate for their members’ rights individually, they do not have the power to do so collectively in enterprise bargaining.

Members in each workplace form a sub-branch. Sub-branches elect annually the offices of president/sub-branch representative and, depending on membership numbers, also a vice-president and secretary. Decisions and recommendations from sub-branches are forwarded to regional councils or the AEU NT Executive for further action.

Regional councils exist in each of the six NT regions: Darwin, Palmerston and Rural, Alice Springs, Barkly, Katherine and Arnhem. Alignment with Department of Education (DoE) regions is not exact due to DoE regions having shifted.

AEU NT regional boundaries require a formal rule change to be approved by Branch Conference before they can be shifted to match the DoE boundaries.

Branch Executive

The Executive is a wholly elected body which oversees the operations of the Branch. Outside of the Annual Branch Conference, it is the highest-ranking decision-making body in the union.

The Branch Executive comprises two Full Time Officers – the President and the Secretary – and a number of honorary positions consisting of two Vice-Presidents (General Division and TAFE), Treasurer, Women’s Officer, Indigenous Councillor and Regional Councillors from the six AEU NT regions. All Branch Executive positions are elected by the membership, with elections conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission as needed. The composition of Branch Executive ensures that all regions, sectors and stages of education in the NT have a forum within which to raise issues and concerns.

Contact us to be put in touch with your regional representatives or relevant officer directly.

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Michelle Ayres

Branch President

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Rachael Metcalfe

Branch Secretary

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Brian Gray

Vice-President (General)

The term of office for all Branch Executive members is two years, except the Branch Secretary, whose term is three years. Branch Executive meets at least six times per year and holds extra meetings online when and if necessary. Branch Executive authorises most expenditure such as branch staff salaries, campaigning and legal assistance for members. Executive is also the body which, in certain circumstances, will authorise AEU NT members to participate in protected industrial action such as work bans and strikes.

The union is required to make available to members a copy of our annual financial report. The report is available on request.

The AEU Officer and Related Party Statement (ORPS) for the previous financial year will be provided to members on request to the Branch Secretary via [email protected].

Branch Conference

Usually held in May each year, the Branch Conference is the principal forum for making and ratifying the key policies and priorities of our Branch for the year ahead. Conference is the only forum that can modify the rules of the Branch.

In line with AEU NT rules, the deadline for Conference registration and motion submission falls well in advance of the event. We recommend that, in addition to electing your sub-branch rep/s early in the year, you also elect a conference delegate and begin the process of collectively drafting motions. Contact the office with any conference related questions.

How many delegates can my sub-branch send?

Each sub-branch, no matter its size, can send at least one delegate. For every 20 + 1 member you can send another delegate. All costs of attendance, including relief teacher coverage for your school, are met the branch office.

For example, a sub-branch with 30 members = 2 x Conference delegates (one because each workplace can send a delegate; another one because there are more than 20 members. If there were 41 members, this sub-branch could send three delegates).

Proxy and observer options are also available.

Contact the office to request a current list of your sub-branch members. All delegates must be financial members of the union at time of registration to be eligible to attend Conference.

The greater the diversity of delegates from as many workplaces as possible contributes to creating a Conference that is truly representative of our membership!

Our History

Explore a brief snapshot of some key issues in the development and history of our union over the past 40 years.

AEU NT Today

2020 gave us an NT election with the result being a return to power for Territory Labor, We asked members to think carefully about who was offering the best for public education. Union priorities remained job security, workload reductions, competitive salaries and school infrastructure. The shocking state of Alekerange School was exposed, demonstrating the right of this community, along with many others to demand commitments from government to longer-term, permanent solutions to dilapidated classrooms (often made from asbestos) that were condemned decades ago. The recurring theme, that is still relevant today, was that the decisions governments make about where and how they allocate funding speaks volumes about which students they consider to be deserving.

On the back of this the global Covid-19 pandemic took hold, causing our annual conference to be postponed and biosecurity zones to be put in place. For several weeks there in March and April, the levels of stress were incredible. We were all trying to adapt to a situation that changed almost daily. Despite the incredible stress everyone was under, teachers, principals and support staff continued to create a safe space for your students, maintaining routine and a sense of normality in a world turned upside down. This was a particularly difficult time for many of our remote members. Despite calls from some quarters to close schools, the overwhelming sentiment from members was to ensure there was continuity of education for children. The resilience and solidarity shown by all was incredible. There was a valid concern from AEU leadership that, in response to the economic devastation wrought by Covid-19, wage freezes and job cuts could be on the table.

In between these stressors, the AEU welcomed the announcement by the Minister and the Department of changes in the structure of the school year for the 2023-2027 period. These gazetted arrangements have seen remote and urban schools operate on the same calendar from 2023 (Gunbalanya excepted), with urban schools no longer commencing a day earlier than remote. These changes came in direct response to lobbying by the AEU on behalf of members and were a definite win, especially for urban teaching employees.

The pre-eminent issue for AEU members in Katherine at this time was, and in many ways still is, the dysfunctional and deteriorating housing situation. This theme continued to emerge on each visit undertaken to Katherine sub-branches by AEU NT officers in 2021. This is unsurprising, given the short-sighted decision by the NT Government and Department of Education in 2019 to phase out longstanding head leasing arrangements.

Buoyed by the successful AEU NT campaign to ‘Lose the Pay Freeze, Keep Our Teachers’, AEU members again stood in solidarity with both each other and union members across the NTPS and voted a resounding NO to the pay freeze.

Early 2022 saw a change of leadership for the union with the departure of Jarvis Ryan and the arrival of Michelle Ayres. Later that year we farewelled Adam Lampe from the position of Branch Secretary and welcomed Rachael Metcalfe to the role.

The AEU commitment to lobby for the dismantling of attendance-based funding (so-called ‘effective’ enrolment) eventually resulted in the Territory government’s announcement to progressively replace this system. For too long Northern Territory students have remained the most underfunded by need in the country – with disastrous consequences for the Territory’s most disadvantaged schools.

The AEU Federal ‘For Every Child’ campaign backed up this result and called upon the Federal government to review and improve bilateral funding agreements with all states and territories enabling the minimum level of funding needed to meet minimum academic standards, known as the SRS (Schooling Resource Standard).

A highlight of this campaign was the epic 2023 road trips that saw AEU officials and employees from across the nation descend upon Canberra for a mass lobbying event and delivery of the tens of thousands of signed postcards collected along the way to the PM.

Our members showed the Albanese Government that Australians still value public education with the announcement of a sizeable injection of cash into the Territory education system. We must now hold government – Federal and Territory – to account by questioning the details and ensuring that money goes straight into teaching and learning.

It is only by creating massive engagement from the whole community that we will keep building on these wins and achieve the change we need to see in our schools.

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