NTEU was formed in 1993 from an amalgamation of five separate unions that represented general and academic staff in higher education, TAFE and adult education in Australia.

As an ‘industry union’ NTEU represents all employees in academic and general/ professional classifications. No other organisation in Australia is able to speak with a unified voice in support of tertiary education and allied institutions and the unique and vital public interests they serve.

The broad purpose and role of the Union is to advocate for, and represent the rights, interests and welfare of members in the industrial, legal, political and social spheres.

The objects of NTEU are specified in NTEU rules and can be summarised as to:

  • Improve and protect the living standards of its members as well as their conditions of employment, working environment and professional interests;
  • Promote the work of tertiary education institutions in Australia and preserve their independence and integrity;
  • Foster the process of intellectual debate within the Australian community;
  • Defend and promote the rights of members to teach, research and disseminate knowledge and information without fear of reprisal;
  • Promote the concept of equal opportunity in employment and eliminate all forms of discrimination in tertiary education and in all spheres of the Union’s activity; and
  • Create and maintain an informed public opinion concerning tertiary education institutions and their staff

NTEU seeks to fulfil its role and advance its primary objects through industrial and political activity on behalf of members.  In this sense, there is no separation between the Union’s lobbying and policy work, our work on professional issues and our work on salaries and conditions of employment. Political activity, including socially responsible citizens’ actions as defined in NTEU rules, and acting in solidarity with other unions and organisations to advance social justice and environmental sustainability is part of this role.

The effectiveness of this role derives from the industrial strength and level of organisation of our membership.  It is affected by the legal framework in which we operate, by the funding and other policies of governments, and by the industrial approach taken by employers in our industry.

NTEU’s membership has many common interests with the membership of other unions in Australia and internationally.  NTEU therefore seeks the maximum level of co-operation with other unions, with the ACTU and with international organisations in pursuing common objectives, such as Education International.