It is with great sadness we announce that Rob Durbridge, former Federal Secretary of the Australian Education Union, passed away on 10 November after a year-long battle with cancer.
A tireless advocate for public education, Rob was also a passionate leader in the labour movement and the global struggle for social justice and peace. He was an active participant in EI activities and served on the Committee of Experts after his retirement.
Rob began teaching with disadvantaged and disengaged youth in Adelaide (South Australia) in the 1970s, then in Bathurst (New South Wales). Following a period working as an industrial officer for the AEU, Rob was elected AEU Federal Secretary in 1994 and served in the post for 12 years.
During his term as Federal Secretary, Rob maintained an active involvement in the AEU's international development co-operation programs. He was particularly passionate about the program with the Vietnam Education Union, in partnership with Lärarförbundet, Sweden.
Within EI, Rob led the debate on reforms aimed at achieving equal representation rights for teacher union members from less developed nations. Well-respected by his colleagues and across the labour movement, Rob’s enormous contribution to the development of education and education unionism, at national and international levels, has left a positive and sustained legacy.
EI has extended its condolences to Rob’s former colleagues in AEU and to his family.