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Meet Delegate Donna Johnston

DONNA JOHNSTON’s  a CPSU stalwart. Joining in 1985, she’s not got a number of strings to her union bow.

A CPSU Councilor and long-time Delegate, Donna’s certainly working to help her colleagues and contributing to the union on a number of fronts.

“Why am I a union member? I believe that collectively we can do far more than you can individually – you do need to stand together and be united.

“Also membership is important for protection; to me it’s a bit like private health insurance. Previously there have been instances where the union’s helped me.

“Not to mention, the employer doesn’t give you things, and the entitlements we have were hard fought. It would be a sorry day if we didn’t have a union because then it’s the employer that tells you what will happen.

“Along with the benefits it brings us with a bit of surety as State Service employees, there are also CPSU Member benefits, which to me are an added bonus.”

AFTER MOVING from the Department of Education last year after a 28 year stint, Donna now works at the Integrity Commission as a Business Services Coordinator.

This commission is an independent Tasmanian body that works with both the State Government and councils to raise the standard of conduct, ethics and propriety in Tasmania’s public sector, dealing with misconduct and offering education and advice.

My job  as a Business Services Coordinator as I see it is, from an administration point of view, keeping things running smoothly in the background.

“If you’ve got an efficient administration area, people can go about their work and don’t have to get bogged down with other things, like the light bulb flashing or delivery of items they need.

“My job covers a range of areas, financial management and reporting, HR reporting and responsibilities, facilities responsibilities – it’s about making sure things keep ticking over, really.”

THE DELEGATE role fits Donna nicely, and after she took up the position, she’s carried it proudly to every workplace.

“Being a Delegate means promoting the union for a start. If you walk into my office I’ve got union paraphernalia up, the Delegate cup on my shelf, the wall planner up – it’s all to promote the role of the union but not be too pushy.”

Donna’s found with some colleagues it’s not about being ‘in-their-faces’ when encouraging them to join the CPSU.

“In a previous job I shared an office with a colleague who wasn’t a CPSU Member. I said to her a couple of times, you really need to think about joining the union and this is why … One day, a good 18 months later out of the blue one day she told me they’d decided to join the union.

“I think that was because she’d observed the way I’d worked. She’d seen my involvement with the union, including rallying troops for a rally. This shows you don’t have to be pushy sometimes, you can just raise awareness and then they’ll come to you. A lot of people won’t make decisions on the spot, they do need to digest things and think about it.”

Delegate training is something that Donna’s enjoyed, from the foundational ACTU training to the more intensive Anna Stewart Memorial Program.

“(CPSU Organiser) Lyn Saunders drew the Anna Stewart program to my attention and I was accepted; I found it really beneficial as well.”

This year Donna came back to speak to this year’s Anna Stewart participants on the first day of the program to share some advice, insight and the project her group had worked so hard on.

This project, a video that’s since been reproduced that highlights domestic violence as a workplace issue, is being used nationally by the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse (watch it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3A4oYXv8yw&feature=plcp) .  What an amazing achievement!

DONNA’S GOT a few pieces of advice for new Delegates.

“You can’t be backward in coming forward; you have to have confidence in yourself and you need to know what you’re talking about. You need to be able to deflect if you get rejection – it’s not a personal thing. Also persevere – you often don’t win first up – so keep plodding on.

“It’s also important to talk to people about joining the CPSU because they might not have ever been asked to join the union or be aware that there is a union.”

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