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Ann celebrates 40th year in Education and the CPSU
ANN Collins can remember exactly what she was wearing on her first day with the Education Department.
“My Dad dropped me off at the office. I was wearing white T-bar shoes, a princess line dress with big flowers on it and a Peter Pan collar, above the knees of course back then, a white cardigan and a white bag.”
We talked to Ann, a School Business Manager at Ravenswood Heights Primary School, just ahead of her 40th anniversary in the public sector and as a CPSU Member.
Ann finished her studies at Brooks High School in 1973, and the school was looking for an office junior so hired her on March 21 the following year.
“On that day my first and most important job was making cups of tea. The office and senior staff at Brooks always used to gather in the office and have a cup of tea at 10 o’clock. I had to make sure I had everyone’s cup of tea right – a level three taught me how to do that!”
Ann stayed at Brooks until 1991 when she moved to Ravenswood High School, and when that closed in 2000 she went to Ravenswood Heights Primary School where she still works. Since starting in the department she’s worked her way up the levels to her current position.
“In my time I’ve seen a move to a new site, an amalgamation of three schools and a closure of a metropolitan high school.”
In this period the job title has also changed from Bursar to School Executive Officer and very recently to School Business Manager, and plenty of other things have changed including pays arriving by direct deposit rather than in cash-stuffed envelopes.
“Because I started as a junior at 16 years old, I’ve seen oodles of change. For example, the attendance was always done manually, or the accounts at Brooks High School before the days of computers we had an 80 column cash book. Now everything is all web based. It’s changing all the time.
“Your office space has improved. It’s all about ergonomics and health and wellbeing now but when I started I had an old teacher’s desk and an old typewriter.
“Schools have more autonomy now, and a School Resource Package. Now there’s so much extra work that is school based, whereas before a lot of work was done by what was called the District Office.
“Back in the day when you had a broken window the Education Department would call out their maintenance crew. They had what was called the tractor gang, who came out and mowed the school lawns.”
Union Members like Ann sticking together have also brought about positive changes over the years.
“Because of the CPSU we have that strength, which I’d say gives us more opportunities to apply for different jobs in the department. There are more professional learning opportunities compared to what there was before.
“We’re now entitled to Maternity Leave. Back in my day if you wanted Maternity Leave you had to use your sick leave, your long service leave – there was no maternity leave back then for women. Even when I had my last child, who’s 20 this year, there was no maternity leave. I only had three months off with each child, and that was using sick and recreation leave. It’s an improvement for women and also men with paternity leave.”
Ann still enjoys much about her job, from the variety of tasks and the school year to the staff, parents and pupils at the school.
“Every day, it’s coming in and not knowing what will happen, the students coming into the office, whether they’re sick or they’ve forgotten their lunch or this or that.
“I enjoy seeing the children coming into prep from our Kinder, then seeing them leave grade six and then be a baby again in the high school.
“I see students who’ve gone through Brooks High School. They still recognise you and say ‘Your face is familiar’, and when I tell them I worked in the office they remember me.
“Even students who came here, to the primary school, you see them coming through as young mums and young dads and you think, ‘I must be getting old’!
“You see Ricky Ponting as the ex-captain of the Australian Cricket Team and I can remember him being a prefect at Brooks High School, things like that.”
Ann’s made good friends at each school she’s worked at and makes time to catch up with them.
“I still have contact with the Teacher Aides I worked with at Brooks High School, I still have communications with the people I worked with at Ravenswood High School and I go out and meet people who used to work here. I’ve made some very good friends over the years.”
Congratulations to Anne on her 40 years in the Education Department and as a Member of our union. School Business Managers are among the many workers crucial to keeping our schools running.