I was one of several Education Facility Attendants (EFAs) who sat down with the Minister for Education last week.
We met with Minister Rockliff to call for a renewal of our Job Security Agreement - and he made a commitment.
We told him that EFAs see the future. We watch children grow up and become parents themselves, sending their own children to their childhood schools. This is how we get a glimpse of Tasmania's future, a future we help nurture.
As we went around the room, the importance of our role was made clear to the Minister.
EFAs ensure that the school facilities are safe and clean, always ready for another day of learning. We regularly volunteer our time to assist with school barbeques, fundraisers, sporting events, and functions.
For the past few months, EFAs like me have been putting pressure on the Minister for Education. The Hodgman Government had failed to commit to renewing our Job Security Agreement (JSA). This was very concerning - not only for us but also for our school communities.
Everyone knew that without the JSA our positions could then be contracted out.
So we got together to fight for jobs we can count on. We didn't just speak to other EFAs. We spoke to everyone in our communities.
EFAs rolled out a statewide petition, which was signed by hundreds upon hundreds of teachers and parents. I reached out to delegates at other schools, and then it was just a domino effect - the parents and teachers would add their names. I learnt that by keeping people informed, you keep the wheels turning on a campaign. By the time we were in the room with Minister Rockliff, we were close to 1200 signatures.
In the meeting, the atmosphere was calm and Minister Rockliff appeared to truly listen. We presented him with the petition and support cards from people across Tasmania, as well as a photo diary that gave him further insight into our role.
It was then that the Minister for Education gave us a commitment: there would be no contracting out of our jobs.
This was a huge relief, but the fight isn't over yet. The Minister did not commit to maintaining our current terms and conditions at work - that will be determined in negotiations, and EFAs are getting ready for them.
What we've all experienced in the last few months is the power of unity. EFAs have seen what happens when we are all on board, working together. We go far, and our voices are heard.