BLUE MOUNTAINS UNIONS & COMMUNITY
BMUC Rod Brooks Award
The inaugural BMUC annual gift to a Blue Mountains public school library was presented by BMUC president Kerry Cooke to Boz Brooks at Politics in the Pub 16 June 2007 (photograph: Barbara Roberts).
Rod Brooks–Comrade, Carer and Companion
15th December, 1948 - 28th September, 2005
Rod's care and respect for elderly members of the community originated from his spending 12 years of his growing up in Manchester, England with his grandparents. Rod's parents both worked and although well off had responsibilities in paying for their siblings' education.
Immigrating to Australia the family moved to Springwood to be with family.
Rod's mother worked at Richmond High School as a librarian so after completing primary t Springwood Primary School he went on to Richmond High.
After moving to Sydney, he went to study at Normanhurst Boys' High and during his last year at school worked as a Ward Assistant at Concord Repatriation Hospital where he listed to the stories of the veterans as they shared cleaning duties with him.
Cab driving his next job gave him lots more stories and life long friends.
After failing to gain entry to University in mathematics and science he became a sales representative and began studying Accounting at TAFE at night.
He moved through a series of accounting positions including Project Accountant with Moomba Gas Pipeline Authority.
His mother encouraged him to become a teacher following the death of a worker, where management appeared to be more concerned with their own position than the worker's family of colleagues.
In 1976 Rod gained a Commonwealth Teaching Service Scholarship to work in the Northern Territory.
Whilst at Macquarie University he worked with Chris Shortus to promote the Trainee Teachers Association. He did his practice teaching at Sadadeen High School in Alice Springs leading him to raise issues of harassment of the Arunda community by students and the lack of a water supply for the community.
As a result Rod initiated school-community links.
In 1979 Rod completed his degree taking a job in Canberra as a Drama teacher as there were no jobs available in NSW. Rod commuted from Redfern to Canberra each week until Boz expecting took maternity leave and moved to Queanbeyan where Dennis was born.
Rod quit the ACT Teaching Service to care for Dennis and work part-time at the Waterloo Youth Centre.
Rod was appointed to Canley Vale High School where with the P&C he lobbied politicians to fund a multi-purpose centre, Transitional Education for 'students at risk', a Project for Girls Program with TAFE and Link courses for NESB girls.
He became active in the Fairfield Teachers' Association and lobbied to upgrade maintenance work to comply with OH&S standards at the local schools.
In 1985 Rod took an unpaid year off for parenting thus forfeiting his right to return to his school.
Taking up work at Lithgow High School he became a union representative working hard to protect teachers.
In 1989 he again took LWOP to parent once again giving up his right of return to care for two primary students and becoming an active parent through Katoomba Primary P&C for Public Education.
1990 saw Rod appointed to Blaxland High School. Here he worked with Mick Longmore and Bill Stone to design an accredited Living Skills Program incorporating work experience, TAFE studies, community, work and industry experience.
Rod still an active unionist became Federation representative at Blaxland High School documenting OH&S non-compliance, following up maintenance issues, raising his colleagues awareness of a 'fair go' and defending individual rights.
He constantly promoted active Union membership and lead by attending and having membership of the Association, Annual Conference and more than a few union demonstrations.
He loved teaching, a gifted storyteller he exploited the narrative, challenged traditional thinking and was able to develop school-business-community links and projects to break down the classroom walls bringing his students into the wider world.
A part of us has moved away.