Covid couldn’t stop Conference

Delegates voting on a proposal 

Delayed due to coronavirus, the AEU NT 2020 Branch Conference was held in Darwin on 11-13 September with 100 members attending from across the Territory.

By both rule and tradition, the AEU NT holds our Branch Conference every year. This year, we faced the strange prospect of holding no conference due to the impact of the pandemic and resulting economic shutdowns, border closures and biosecurity lockdowns.

Fortunately, as the health situation improved in May and June, Branch Executive was able to reschedule the event for mid-September.

Executive was thrilled with the turnout and enthusiasm our members showed. We had many first-time delegates. More than 70 sub-branches were represented, and the Conference dealt with a record number of matters.

The ongoing issues related to COVID-19 hung over the event, with members wearied by a long year. This was felt most acutely by remote teachers, who were locked down for most of Term 2 and in many cases separated from family interstate. Many of the motions submitted by sub-branches reflected this, dealing with the stress and isolation endured by members.

In his opening address, President Jarvis Ryan explained the major issues that the union would focus on over the year ahead, notably ensuring school funding is protected from cuts due to the NT Government’s poor financial position and protecting members’ pay and conditions as we move into enterprise bargaining for teachers, principals and support staff in 2021.

With more than 130 motions, Conference was a very busy day and a half of debating and voting on the issues put forward by sub-branches. The main themes included special education provision, teacher wellbeing, class sizes, non-contact time and attendance-based funding.

Several rule changes were endorsed relating to governance, financial management, officer responsibilities and the format of Conferences. These have been forwarded to the Fair Work Commission for ratification.

With so many items listed for discussion, a small number of matters had to be referred to Executive. A full list of decisions is available at our website. The Full-Time Officers and Executive will implement these decisions between now and next year’s Conference, which will take place in Alice Springs, likely on the May Day weekend (1-2 May). Mark the date in your calendar!

This article was also published in the Term 3-4, 2020 edition of the Territory Educator magazine.

More information
Download a full list of 2020 Conference decisions