125 Years of the Community & Public Sector Union

Recently we officially celebrate 125 years of the Community and Public Sector Union in Tasmania. Our roots began with the formation of the Tasmanian Public Service Officers Association in 1897.  

Antique Photo of Civil Servants Gathering at Franklin Square in Hobart, c. 1890s
Photo of an early gathering of public sector workers at Franklin Square in Hobart, c. 1890s (CPSU Archives)

On 27 January 1897 a General Meeting was held in Hobart, where the rules of the Tasmanian Civil Service Association were passed and a Provisional Committee appointed. Over the years we’ve undergone several name changes (a decorated habit of unions). We came together as the State Public Service Federation (SPSF Group) on 30 July 1976. 

Circular announcing the formation of the Tasmanian Civil Service Assocation by our first President, J.W. Israel, on 10 February 1897 (CPSU Archives)

The CPSU as we know it today came into existence on 1 July 1994 when the State Public Service Federation and the Public Sector, Professional, Scientific, Research, Technical, Communication, Aviation and Broadcasting Union (“PSU”) amalgamated. The CPSU is today one of the largest trade unions in Australia more than 120,000 members nationwide. We are the union for public sector workers, workers in Government Owned Enteperises and Universities. We’re proud to be union, and proud to be public. 

Our public services deliver opportunities, protection and better lives for all Tasmanians. They strengthen communities and uplift lives. And it is the product of generations of working people, working to build a public sector that’s independent, well-resourced and respected by the community and by government, that has transformed the living standards and social opportunities of generations of Tasmanians. This is your history as a CPSU member – and we’re incredibly proud of your contribution carrying that history forwards.   

Today we continue to build a strong and vibrant union led by a network of workplace leaders, supported by dedicated, trained and passionate Organisers.  

The gathering also acknowledged the ongoing blot on the history of the State Service represented by the harm caused to lutruwita’s first peoples by policies which enforced systemic discrimination against them.  

“Acknowledging that we meet today on Aboriginal land, land never ceded, and paying respects to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and their elders past and present – I also want to acknowledge the history Tasmania’s State Service has had in the maintenance of systems and policies that have discriminated against the Tasmanian Aboriginal community,” said Secretary Thirza White.  

“Reconciliation is a process that begins with truth-telling and needs to be followed with action to work towards dismantling those systems that continue to discriminate and exclude, not just words. We commit ourselves to that process.” 

You can learn more about the Community & Public Sector Union, our history, elected representatives and staff team at https://www.cpsu.com.au/about/  

More from the CPSU Archives: 100 Years of our member journals!

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