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Meet CPSU Delegate Tania Shilcock

TANIA Shilcock’s a new Tasmanian, new to our public sector, a new union Member and a recent Delegate.

Although she’s new, Tania’s got plenty of experience and passion to offer her fellow Members in her workplace.

Her job

An Operations Officer for DIER’s the Driver Licencing Unit, Tania deals with the sensitive issue of restricted driver licences.

“I also work with what we call confidential notifications, so if someone’s unsuitable to drive and the registrar’s notified, it’s my job to put that process into place,  and to follow up to determine somebody’s suitability to drive.”

Tania also vets restricted licence applications, prepares court certificates, deals with offence free rewards and medical certificates for conditions relating to driver licencing.

“It’s quite highly regulated and there’s also a lot of client contact – and that’s the part that I enjoy. “Often they’re in quite difficult circumstances. “Often some of the decisions we make impact quite strongly on their personal lives, so I take it quite seriously that we deal with all of them the best we can.”

Working in DIER since April last year, previously Tania worked for about nine years in the Transport Department in Western Australia, in driver licencing and vehicle registration.

“There was a bit of a transition between the WA way of doing things and the Tasmanian way of doing things, so it’s taken a bit of time to adjust to that.

“It’s been a bit of an adjustment because the state governments are quite different. “Coming from a very well-funded state government where money wasn’t such an issue to a very tight budget restraints that Tasmania is working under, means a whole other kettle of fish – it’s really quite challenging.”

An active CPSU Member and Delegate

Tania didn’t waste any time signing up to the union once she started in the Tasmanian Public Sector.

“Fairly soon after I arrived I signed up as a Member, Jacob (Organiser Jacob Batt) came for a walk around the office and I took the Member pack and signed up. “I’ve always been a union Member from the time I started in the public service.”

Signing up with the CPSU CSA in WA in 2001, Tania became a Delegate six months later

“I was very keen to get on board in Tassie as well.

“I only became a Delegate because I was asked – if no one asked me the question, then I would have never put my hand up to do it. “But I’m really glad I was asked and secondly that I took the challenge on because it opened up a whole new world, dealing with people and being able to assist and actually make a difference.”

As a Delegate in Western Australia, Tania said one of the best outcomes she’d experienced as a union Member and Delegate was the change from four to 12 weeks maternity leave.

“It was of personal interest to me because from 2002 and 2006 I had four babies. “So I went from having to give up my newborn after a couple of weeks to go back to work to being able to stay home.”

“I also saw a positions being reclassified through a lot of union activity. We saw a lot of people come on board because it was so important they were recognised for the work they’d been doing.

Also WorkChoices came in, which was a huge issue for a lot of people.

“It was really nice to see people caring and standing up for what they thought was right – and I was really proud to be part of that.”

In Tassie, Tania’s just getting started in the role of Delegate.

“I’m hoping to encourage more people to join; I’m happy to give out information and discuss the benefits of union membership. “We have our noticeboard up and running and information to hand out to people. “One of the key things I’d like to see happen is when a new staff member comes on, particularly here in registration and licencing branch, that the CPSU  has got a role in induction, right at the very start. “And further to that, just having some representation on any of the committees that are going on in regards to changes in the workplace and any decisions that affect staff.”

“I had a chat to the registrar here and just explained my role to him, and he was very supportive and encouraging, and suggested that I put a regular feature into the newsletter as well – so I’m really hoping to build that positive message around what it means to be part of a union and try and steer away from and correct negative perceptions that might exist.”

One thing Tania’s noticed since moving to the Apple is the problems that come from working in tough economic times, such as workload and stress.

“I think it’s becomes an issue when people are physically affected by the stress that they feel at work – when that stress goes home with them.”

“I’m glad to see that just after raising a few things, there have been some positive steps towards helping people achieve a greater work-life balance, some of that has included bringing in people that help with how to deal with stress.”

 

Thoughts on Unions

“It’s great to be part of a union because a lot of voices are heard a lot more clearly than one little voice in the wilderness. “It’s that power of collectiveness that’s so important. “I’ve witnessed so many times where a group of people can make such a change.”

“And just the values that go with the union – the justice that prevails. “People feel like that they do have that back up and that support and what they think and  care about does matter and someone else is prepared to make a stand with them.“

 

Advice to other Delegates

I’d say – use your organiser – they’re there for back-up and support, so don’t underestimate the power of that as a resource.

Just talk to people. Often nobody asks people about joining – don’t be afraid to ask.

Don’t be put off by that negative perception, because I don’t think that negative perception exists as much as people think it does.

Tania also urges Delegates to talk to all their colleagues. “Often the quiet ones will be really key Members.”

 

A former “Anna”

Tania took part in the Anna Stewart about 5-6 years ago in WA.

Tasmanian union Delegates can also take part in this program, learning about women’s issues in the workforce and role in the union movement and beyond.

“It was really nice to see what was happening on the inside of the union – how much passion and how much work was going on to get things done in the union movement. “I got to meet one on one with some prominent people in the union and the Labor party as well.”

Tania also learnt a lot about organising a workplace and how to become a more effective delegate.

“The thing that’s stuck out most to me, in all the courses I’ve done with the union, but particularly with Anna Stewart was the absolute importance and the crucial role of the Delegate as a key role in the union movement.

“Without Delegates there wouldn’t be a union, so it’s such an important role in workplaces.

“I could get an understanding of why so much was invested into Delegates in terms of time and training. “So I’m glad I can repay the time people have put in for me and pass that on to other member s and encourage other people to take up the role as well.”

If you do nothing else, put up your hand for Anna Stewart – it is really worthwhile.”

 

On a personal note

Only in the state for a bit over a month, Tania absolutely loves Tasmania so far, although, the cold is a challenge. “I never had a winter wardrobe until I got to Tasmania,” she said.

“The smaller population is quite a different dynamic to work in, as well as the isolation that Tasmania has, as an island away from the mainland. “But it’s an exciting place to be. Tasmania is a beautiful state, we moved here because of the beautiful country. “We made a lifestyle change in coming down here to get out of the rat race.”

“We live in New Norfolk, so we’ve got Mount Field on the back door step, the Derwent River there, so the environment is just fantastic.”

Away from work Tania is a wife and busy mum, with 7 children aged between 26 and 6.

“A key thing for us in the last little while was my husband and I took a year off work and we lived on board our boat with four of our kids – we just went travelling and did some home schooling – so took a gap year on the water with the family.”

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