Chantal Cornelious

Teacher, Ainslie Parklands Primary School

Before I joined the AEU I didn’t think I had what it took to be a leader. I was really nervous about stepping up. But the union training really helped me get over my fears.

I’ve always had a really positive view of unions. When I was at school, I remember my teachers taking industrial action; my mum was involved in the school council and she supported the teachers and explained to us what was behind our day off school.

When I attended the AEU Victoria Women’s Conference there were so many inspirational women talking about different ways to “do leadership”, and I realised that I wanted to be working at that level too. Before that, I didn’t have leadership ambitions, but now I realise it’s all about not being afraid of what you can achieve. I participated in the Women in Leadership Development (WILD) program this year. You learn about workplace issues for women, how women tackle leadership, work/life balance.

I’ve benefited from AEU training massively. When I came to my current school, I found out we didn’t have an active AEU representative, so I did the AEU Active training, which gave me a real insight into what the union does and how I could personally empower my sub-branch. It taught me about branch council, caucus, executive, how the union operated.

As part of my rep role now, I keep colleagues up to date on AEU campaigns like Gonski. I let non-union members know about training opportunities and their rights, and let them know that joining the union will give them access to really good advice.

I’m part of the AEU Branch Council now, which is a forum to pass motions about the operations of the AEU, as well as industrial action we can take. It gives you a really good insight into what the department is doing internally and how the government is negotiating with the union.

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