In this edition of IE we discuss the critical role of educators and their Union in dealing with broader issues in society – as well as the impact these issues have on the education profession.

The ever-present media exposition to adults and children alike of a seemingly constant viewing of trauma and disaster must have an impact. Teachers are then faced with the challenge of how to tackle difficult discussions in the classroom. Professor Beverley Raphael explains how educators can approach these conversations (p10).

Our lack of control over tragic events happening globally highlights the need for schools to provide a safe and secure environment for students and educators. Compliance officers play a vital role in this; ensuring schools are up to workplace health and safety standards and thus allowing school staff to focus on their own workloads (p15).

In the classroom setting, an educator’s ability to feel in control as well as be in control reinforces their students’ feelings of safety and security. IEU member and teacher Juliette Foenander discusses the importance of acknowledging one’s feelings in order to create a healthy and supportive learning space (p28).

Some issues, of course, extend beyond the classroom. Forced displacement of people has reached historic levels and schools all over the world are welcoming into their classrooms an increasing number of refugee children. We discuss the power educators have to help refugee students through what can be an extremely disorientating experience (p18).

As we welcome migrants and refugees from across the globe into our schools and community, we must take the time to ensure that children value multiculturalism and learn the essential social skills of cultural awareness and inclusion (p25).

As we commemorate Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week we pause to consider issues of significance to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and reflect on how our Union might do more to promote reconciliation in our community. IEUA-QNT Research Officer Adele Schmidt writes to this issue (p22).

Educators have the power to take charge of their work environments – with their choices having the potential to have a positive influence and shape the values and views held by the community at large. Our Union stands for members who are passionate about their professions and we fight to ensure that the profession is fairly recognised as a vital contributor to a better society. Our members make a difference – and our Union is determined to ensure they are able to continue to do so now and in the future.

Terry Burke