True Story by Debra

Debra, New Zealand

Mandated Out of Job

I am still morning the loss of a 40 year old teaching career. I never thought the government would mandate vaccines on New Zealanders. The silence from the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Council after I refused the jab and was mandated out was truly heart breaking.

My name is Debra, and this is my true story.

I went to North Shore Teachers’ College at 17 and have spent the better part of my 63 years working in education, initially as a Primary School teacher and transitioning to Early Childhood when my own children were small. When my career ended I had a fabulous job working in an Early Childhood Centre in Orewa where I loved the children, their whanau and the colleagues I was fortunate enough to work alongside.


Although I was aware of talk about mandating vaccines and had said to my boss back in 2020 that a vaccine requirement would be a deal breaker, a little part of me didn’t want to believe that the Government would actually do it. At the same time the mandates were being announced on TV, I was sent an email offering me a free taxi to a vaccination centre. I found that act highlighted the cruel and heartless nature of the Government. I was devastated at the announcement. To be deemed unfit to work with children after all those years in the job was heart breaking. Life as I knew it was about to change forever and all because I believe it is my body and my right to decide what goes into it.
Because they made weekly testing mandatory for teachers until they had received 2 doses of the vaccine, I decided to leave work on October 22nd, with no fuss as it was not the fault of my employers.
The next 2 months were probably the saddest of my life. I was very fragile and couldn’t talk to anyone without crying and just hid myself away. The thing that hurt the most was that no one said, “This is not right”, or, “Thanks for your years of service.”The silence of the Ministry of Education and Teachers Council was deafening. I hadn’t realised how much my job was a part of my identity and I still struggle to know who I am without it.
I have since had correspondence from my ex-employers and colleagues that note my value as a mentor and the in-depth knowledge I have of children, with amazing Learning Stories to back it up. All I can think is, “What a waste of experience, mine and that of every other teacher that has lost their job”.
Four months on and I am still coming to terms with my new reality. I have to remind myself that it’s no longer my job and they are not my children. I’ve adjusted to no income and taken up gardening. It still hurts and I still find it hard to believe that a Government could take the jobs of good, hard working people without so much as a backwards glance.
Debra Barnes

We are a Coalition Partner with the World Council For Health

View "Silenced" by Samantha Blanchard

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