During May, we completed the two-week Anna Stewart Memorial Project, where we explored the contributions of women in the union movement.
Anna Stewart was a feminist union activist who campaigned for workers’ and women’s rights from 1974 to 1983. The project helps encourage women to follow in her footsteps.
We participated in sessions at Trades Hall revolving around the history and context of women’s activism, OHS in the workplace, organising campaigns and actions, telling our stories through online/digital platforms, and an inspiring Women in Leadership panel discussion.
At the AEU, we connected with staff from across the union, and took part in workshops with international activists. We also engaged in election actions and VGSA information school visits.
We have learnt about placing workers at the centre of conversations, and having a purpose and strategies for moving workers towards action. This challenged our thinking and inspired spirited conversations and role-plays.
On our final day at the AEU, we attended the National Education Summit. Speakers included local and international education professionals, politicians, union officials, academics, economists and NGO personnel.
We urge everyone to have those tough conversations with your friends and family – and perhaps your local MP – about the need for fair funding.
When we applied for the project, we did not anticipate it would take place during the VGSA vote, a federal election, international ‘Organising for Power’ workshops, and the AEU National Education Summit. Exciting times!
The buzz around Trades Hall and the AEU was palpable. A Labor government with a greater commitment to public education has given us the impetus to continue campaigning for fair funding.
The VGSA 2022 vote was on our minds throughout the program and on our last day at the AEU it was announced it had passed the employer ballot. We are excited to see the improvements this agreement will deliver, with major changes to the Dimensions of Work for education support members and much better family leave provisions, providing greater support for many women in the education workforce.
We finished the Anna Stewart program feeling inspired. While the federal election result brings hope, it is important we continue to push for change. We urge other union members to set some goals within their sub-branch. Consider appointing a Women’s Officer, so that gendered issues can be specifically addressed. Hold each other accountable, challenge inequities and biases where they arise, and make noise about issues in the workplace and in public education more broadly.
We urge everyone to have those tough conversations with your friends and family – and perhaps your local MP – about the need for fair funding. While this can be hard, the noisier we are as a collective, the more power for change we hold.