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March 20, 2018

The importance of a collective voice in education is not only vital for teachers but also students, says Port Macquarie teacher Amy Harland.

Amy is the Federation Representative at Westport Public School where she continues a family tradition of teaching and activism.

“Both of my parents are teachers and they instilled the unionist belief in me,” she said. “It is important to have the support of Federation and to stand together with a collective voice that can promote positive change, not just for teachers but for students.”

In her third year as a Fed Rep, Amy decided to take on the role as a way to learn more about Federation and the role it has in the teaching profession.

“I had also seen some of my friends and family take on similar roles and thought it was my way to become more active,” she said.

“It can be as simple as putting your hand up and learning as you go. The courses Federation hold to support Fed Reps are worthwhile attending so you can learn the ins and outs of the role.

“As a Fed Rep, it is important to have discussions with staff about issues that involve them, and for that reason it is an important role in every workplace.”

Being a Fed Rep comes with its rewards, especially when members rally behind a cause despite inclement weather.

“On one occasion, despite torrential rain, I was able to organise the majority of my staff and quite a few parents turn up to a local Gonski rally to show their support, that was a pretty proud moment,” Amy said.

“The schools funding campaign is an issue that affects our local community because our students should have needs-based funding."

She said needs-based funding allows all students to receive the education they deserve and allows teachers to ensure students meet their potential.

“Campaigning through attending rallies, contacting my local member, speaking to staff and parents about the importance of the campaign and gaining the support of those people are just some of the ways I have been involved.”

Amy has been a temporary teacher for the past six years, and is passionate about the role they play and seeks to improve their chances of employment.

“Casual and temporary teachers are so important in education, however, it can be extremely difficult to gain a permanent position,” she said.

“It is challenging to work in a role that isn't permanent so I think we need to have a look at the way positions are allocated to ensure everyone has access to be eligible for permanent positions.

“Federation recently secured the decision through the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to fill more than 2600 teaching positions permanently.

“While this provides temporary and casual teachers more opportunities to become permanent, it would be a positive outcome if these positions were filled by current temporary and casual teachers without competing in the merit selection process against teachers who are already permanently employed.”

Travel is high on Amy’s agenda out of school hours.

“Seeing the world opens up a lot of opportunities and experiences and is good for the soul,” she said.

“As teachers we tend to work in our holidays but going overseas makes that harder so I actually get a holiday!

“I recently returned from Cuba and had the most amazing time. It has a great vibe, awesome people and stunning scenery. Now to plan for the next holiday.”

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