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Dedicated unionist Christine Treloggen recounts last 4 decades in the public sector

(Pictured: Christine (left) with her CPSU Organiser Kathryn Lee).

LONG time CPSU Member Christine Treloggen, who’s notched up over 40 years in her workplace, retires next month. She’s not afraid of fighting for better conditions and is a former CPSU Councilor and a member of a number of statewide education advisory associations.

Starting in the Department of Education in 1966, Christine then worked at the State Bushfire Committee after the ’67 bushfires before going back to the agency. From there she did stints in the Police Department’s Licencing Branch and Agricultural Department.

After 12 months in Western Australia she moved to St Helens District High School where she still works.

The school’s a busy hub of the community, running from Kinder to year 12 with a Child and Family Centre and Trade Training Centre.

“District High Schools are out there on their own, you could say we have children from zero to year 12 on our site,” Christine said. “Also being a rural school, you have school cars that you manage, swimming pools that you manage. The community often needs to use your facilities 24/7 at times. The school is an important part of the community.

The people are the favourite part of my job, both the community and the staff that are under your umbrella as manager. The kids that are here now, their parents and grandparents were here when I started. So I’m seeing the third generation come through.”

Christine knows most of the town’s residents and often if a child or family is having a hard time outside school it’s known to school staff, which helps to create a nurturing environment.

Since starting at the school back in the ‘70s, she’s moved through a range of roles and had several title changes: Office Assistant to Admin Officer, Clerical Assistant, Bursar, School Executive Officer and now School Business Manager.

What does a School Business Manager do? Christine said it broadly covers managing non-teaching staff, finances, vacancies, buildings, maintenance and grounds.

“A lot of your time is taken up with the HR side of things. In big colleges or on the mainland, you have a HR manager, you have a finance manager, you have a maintenance manager but here Business Managers are really working in all of those three positions. Quite often now you are working on your own and you have to make autonomous decisions.”

Christine’s seen massive leaps in technology over the four decades at St Helens District High.

“We started with methylated spirit printers, and then moved to the old manual typewriters, then electric typewriters.

“I remember the week before the May holidays, my principal came in to see me with a big box and said “we’re going IT savvy, here’s a computer, I want you to learn to use it before the holidays are over. I was given the book and the box and I had to put it together. There were no IT staff back then. It was very daunting!”

Christine is one of the original members of the School Administration Advisory Forum (SAAF), which is a branch of the Tasmanian School Administrators Association.

SAAF meets once a term to discuss school administration roles and issues and take these to the Department. Members come from a range of schools from around the state and Christine said this diversity is important. “The needs of a primary school are different from a high school, which is different again to a district high school.”

Retirement means Christine will also have to say goodbye to her involvement in SAAF. “It’s been a privilege being part of the SAAF group. I’ve found it very challenging and rewarding to fight for a cause. School Admin’s salaries and classifications really needed looking at.”

Christine is also a former CPSU Councilor, representing education back when the union was called the Tasmanian Public Service Association (CHECK).

An active CPSU Member, she’s stood up for Teacher Assistants, something she’s rightfully proud of.

“I organised the inaugural meeting of all the Teacher Assistants for the whole of the state and had 200 and something people turn up. When I was on the CPSU Council before, a lot of people contacted me about their pay and conditions, so I called the meeting and it all went to there. Since then Teacher Assistants are now recognised for the work they do and a lot of things like their work structures have changed since that meeting. I’ve always carried the thought that all non-teaching staff in schools have the same rights as the next person.”

Christine retires on May 2 and is counting down the days. “I’m looking forward to it. We’re going travelling for the first three months after I retire. We’re going to Europe and on a Mediterranean cruise.”

The CPSU thanks Christine for her many years of service to the CPSU and her fellow union Members and school community. We wish her all the very best in her retirement.

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