Statement on the passing of John Quessy

The IEU is deeply saddened by the passing of former Secretary John Quessy on Sunday 10 December.

John joined the Independent Teachers Association (now the NSW/ACT Branch of the IEUA) as a student member in 1975. He became a teacher at St Pius X Chatswood from 1976 to 1994, where he taught English, history, art and general studies and was also a subject coordinator and year coordinator.

John’s concerns for the rights and professional interests of teachers led him to a deep interest in the union and its policies. Alongside his teaching career, he became a Chapter Rep, Chapter Chairperson then President of the union’s Northern Suburbs Subbranch from 1984 to 1987.

John became a member of the union’s Executive in 1987. He held the position of Vice President Non-Systemic from 1987 to 1989 and that of President from 1989 to 1994.

In 1995, John joined the union’s staff as an Organiser, becoming Assistant Secretary in 2004 and then in 2012, Secretary of the NSW/ACT Branch until 2019.

During his tenure as Secretary, John led highly successful campaigns for pay rises and improved working conditions in the Catholic systemic sector in 2013-14 and 2017-18, with the latter taking out the ACTU’s Campaign of the Year Award 2018. He spearheaded the 2012 “Teachers are Teachers” campaign for pay parity for university-trained early childhood teachers with primary school teachers which was finally resolved with considerable success in 2022. He had a keen interest in professional issues affecting the everyday lives of teachers and supported the expansion of the union’s professional development program for members. 

John was Federal President of the national union from 2014 to 2019.

Most recently he was appointed to the Board of NGS Super in 2020 as a Trustee Director and remained on the Board until 2023, following earlier periods on which he had also been a Board member.

John was a keen theatregoer with an abiding love of Shakespeare and he appreciated a fine wine. He enjoyed contributing to union publications and was known for his rousing speeches. John was also handy with the tools, rebuilding a weekender in the mountains as well as renovating the family home. 

The second of nine children, John was born in Sydney on 26 December 1954. He is survived by his wife Magda, children Alexis and Josh, and five grandchildren.

The IEU appreciates John’s legacy to both the union and the profession. We extend heartfelt condolences to John’s family, friends and loved ones.