Browse Entries

Trade Union entry Victorian Teachers Union (1926 - 1990)

Trade Union (State or Territory only)


The Victorian Teachers' Union (VTU) was established following negotiations from 1923 - 1926 between the Victorian State School Teachers' Union, the Victorian High School Teachers' Union and the Victorian Technical Teachers' Association. These three organisations amalgamated on 13 August 1926 to form the Victorian Teachers' Union with a membership of about 5000.

The Union held monthly meetings where the various branches and the business, organising, journal and executive committees submitted reports. The Head Teachers' Women, Male Assistants and Metropolitan Technical Teachers were all represented by other branches. On 11 December 1938 a Permanent Committee of the Technical Women's Branch was elected after approval from the VTU Executive.

The VTU's first Annual Conference was held in January 1927 and was attended by elected delegates, who were responsible for formulating the VTUs general policy. The Council was responsible for the union's business during the year, and the Executive (President, Past President, two Vice Presidents, Treasurer, other members of Council as elected) transacted the VTUs business.

In October 1946 a major objective of the VTU was realised with the establishment of the Victorian Teachers' Tribunal. The Tribunal consisted of a single teacher representative, and its purpose was to fix wages, salaries and general conditions of employment. Its formation was a breakthrough, because in 1929 the High Court had ruled that teaching was not an industry thus effectively barring teachers from accessing the Arbitration Court.

In 1948 secondary teachers broke away from the VTU to form the Victorian Secondary Masters' Professional Association which in 1953 became the Victorian Secondary Teachers' Association (VSTA). Technical Teachers left the VTU in 1967 and formed the Technical Teachers' Association of Victoria (TTAV). In November 1974 the Union moved to new Headquarters in Camberwell. Growing dissatisfaction with the Victorian Teachers' Tribunal led in 1976 to an agreement between the VTU, TTAV and the VSTA to work together on the basis of joint policy, for improved industrial relations for teachers.

In August 1981 the VTU Victorian Federation subcommittee agreed that there should be a Victorian Teachers' Federation modelled on the NSW Teachers' Federation. In July 1984 the Teacher's Federation of Victoria was established as an umbrella organisation for industrial purposes, with the three teacher unions remaining autonomous.

The Teachers' Federation of Victoria is now the Victorian Branch of the Australian Education Union following an affiliation in 1993.


 1926 - 1990 Victorian Teachers Union
       1990 - 1995 Federated Teachers Union of Victoria
             1993 - Australian Education Union

Archival resources

The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU Archives Program

  • Austin Dowling Collection, 1965 - 1966, P40; The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU Archives Program. Details
  • Victorian Teachers Union - Records, 1901 - 1989, T37; N86; M16; Z324; The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU Archives Program. Details

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Victorian Teachers' Union. Temporary Teachers' Club - Records, 1954-1960, 1954 - 1960, MS 11458; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Bain, P., 'Teacher Unionism Celebrates 100 Years in Victoria', Victorian Teacher, no. 2, 1986, pp. 16-17. Details
  • Biddington, R., 'Emerging teacher unionism in Victoria, 1872-1879', Journal of Further and Higher Education, vol. 4, no. 2, 1980, pp. 12-20. Details
  • Victorian Teachers' Union, 'A Centenary of Teacher Unionism in Victoria', VTU Journal, vol. 12, no. 3, 1986, pp. 12-13. Details
  • Willett, Graham, '"Proud and employed": the Gay and Lesbian Movement and the Victorian Teachers' Unions in the 1970s', Labour History, vol. 76, 1999, pp. 78-94. Details

Bruce A. Smith