Education International’s Angelo Gavrielatos to receive the Order of Australia
For most Australians, Australia Day is cause for celebration and patriotic pride, but for Angelo Gavrielatos this year’s festivities include the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia for his work and dedication to education.
Angelo is among 958 Australians to be named during the annual Australia Day Honours, joining scientists, athletes, artists and former prime minister Julia Gillard. He and Gillard worked closely to establish the Gonski funding programme to see that all Australian children are educated in properly resourced schools across the country.
Unfortunately, Angelo was in Brussels for the official announcement, a long way from home and the Australia Day festivities. But the secretariat of EI made certain that it was a moment to be remembered.
“It wouldn’t surprise anyone that I would have liked to have been home today, but this is as much a part of you as it is of the members in Australia because it’s a recognition of the teacher union movement globally, not only in Australia,” he said.
Despite the cold temperature in Brussels, EI’s team let Angelo know that he was home among friends.
“It’s only right that the people who work with him and appreciate him show him that it’s a big deal here,” said EI Deputy General Secretary David Edwards, who toasted his friend. “Angelo, from the bottom of our hearts, congratulations, very well deserved, we give a Gonski.”
With inflatable kangaroos, an Australian flag and plenty of music from the ‘land down under,’ Angelo had the chance to take in the honour.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my political life, and privileged to do what we do. We get to live out our politics every single day and we do so in trying to achieve something great. It’s a great cause that we’re all a part of, and it’s the cause of trying to achieve quality education for every kid, every young adult around the world, and we should never forget that privilege,” he said.
Beginning his career as a high school teacher in New South Wales, Angelo, 52, quickly became involved with the New South Wales Teachers Federation as a senior leader, and rose up the ranks of the Australian Education Union, serving as president for eight years until 2015.
Now with Education International (EI) as the project director of the organisation’s campaign to curb the privatisation and commercialisation of public education, Angelo is a staple in the Brussels’ office.
“It is an honour, but really It’s a tribute to the members in Australia and worldwide that we’re recognised like this because were it not for their active engagement, their active participation, their motivation and their inspiration, we would be nothing, so onwards and upwards.”
The Order of Australia is the highest civilian honour which recognises members of the community who have made outstanding contributions at the national level. Awardees can be nominated by any member of the Australian public.