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Delegate profile: Tom Courto
Juggling fatherhood, studying, work and union roles, it’s hard to know just how CPSU Delegate and Councilor Tom Courto manages to do it all.
Receiving an award this month for his studies through the Skills Institute, Tom Courto chatted to the CPSU recently about everything from bushwalking to moustaches…
Tom works in the Parks and Wildlife Service, where he started as a trainee back in 2003.
As a Parks newbie he completed Tourism Certificate 2 through work. Since then he’s impressed with his dedication and aptitude to study.
“I started Certificate 4 in Tourism as part of an internal upskilling program. “I finished that fairly quickly and within 2 months and managed to negotiate myself into a Diploma course. “Again I finished that quite quickly and I managed to talk my way into an Advanced Diploma Course.”
It was for this Advanced Diploma course that Tom was nominated and eventually won the Rotary Club of Deloraine Vocational Student of the Year at the Tasmanian Training Awards.
“It was an honour just to be there for the night, for both myself and my wife. It was the first chance to get out for an evening after our new baby. “Up against the calibre of people on state –I didn’t expect to win it at all.”
Now he’ll automatically go into the National Awards in November.
Tom’s not ready to give up the books just yet. “I’m now looking forward to using the credit from the Advanced Diploma to go to university and finish a degree in Business, Tourism Management.”
At work his job’s opened up a raft of opportunities, currently acting in higher duties in the Park Entry Fee Unit.
“We deal mostly with enquiries from the general public and we also deal with our tourism operators. “There’s a fair bit of negotiation and information transfer that needs to happen there, the skills and knowledge that I’ve learnt from the courses have easily been applied to those areas.”
Tom’s also worked on the Three Capes Project and as Remote Area Fire Fighter during the summer.
“Between that I can be Overland Track Administrator or Online Shop Administrator – so a bit of everything.”
A number of moments stick out in Tom’s career in Parks and Wildlife.
One was a short term contract as a Regional Asset Coordinator for the southern region. “That involved collecting data for a strategic asset maintenance priority program, which was about our waste water infrastructure and assets. “That was really interesting because of some of the assets we had hidden away that we had no idea about, and you just stumbled across them or just pulled the knowledge out of people’s heads.”
Another highlight was working on the Three Capes Project. “It’s fantastic to be involved – I think it would be a great boon for the Tasman Peninsula. “And of course the fires, it’s a great opportunity to go out touch base with everyone else in the field and to network and gain new skills.”
Starting in Parks in 2003, there was no question for Tom whether to join the union.
“It was something I thought was important and related to me as a Parks employee. “It’s certainly paid off for Parks in the last few years and hopefully with some of the things we’ve got in the pipeline it will help us in the future.”
For Tom, he sees union Membership as a kind-of insurance. “You take it out just in case. “It’s always good to have that support network to fall back on and know that the people involved with the union will go into bat for you – they won’t hold back they’ll do everything they possibly can for you. “That’s why I joined the union in the first place.” Of course, adding in the Member benefits and tax deductible subs, being a union Member is a no brainer for Tom.
“It’s almost been lost in translation for a while, that when we go into to negotiate for our wages, it’s the CPSU that goes in for us, on our behalf. “There really isn’t anyone to go in to bat for us and go in to get what we want for those negotiations. “That’s something I’d like to bring to the forefront in the future, that we do have these people negotiating behind the scenes to get the very best deal out of every single pay negotiation we go into.”
His advice to fellow Parks Members is to keep informed and to stay in touch with their Organisers if they’re not getting the information they want.
“Information is really hard to come by these days. “We still don’t know how the cookie is going to crumble, with what kind of land Parks is going to take on either. “There’s a whole bunch of different things that we’ll have to adapt to in the not-too-distant future. “It will be an exciting time as well as an anxious time.”
Tom’s roles as Delegate and CPSU Councilor have broadened that mindset when it comes to the union. “I get to have my fingers in a few different pies and broaden my own knowledge. “Certainly for me I’m able to see the big picture, and it’s about being able to transfer relevant information now to Members and other Delegates and potential Members.”
He’s worn his Delegate hat for one year officially, a number of years unofficially and it’s his second season being a CPSU Councilor after he was re-elected earlier this year.
“I really get a lot out of being a Councilor. “It always brings home every meeting how varied the different things the CPSU does for its Members, whether it’s going up to bat with them in commissions or sorting out pay rises or conditions to providing information on discounts. “Being a Councilor is really quite varied and I always get a kick out of it.”
Outside the work sphere, Tom’s married, with his second child William a recent arrival.
“Funnily enough he was born on the day I was meant to have my interview for the Tasmanian Training award. “So I was in the waiting room with Hannah in labour and on the phone to Jacqui Maclaine at Skills Tasmania at the same time trying to explain that I wouldn’t be in for the interview that day. “William’s doing very well and fitting to the household nicely and his older sister Eliza loves it.”
Other interests include bush walking and rock climbing, making the most of opportunities to take the kids to different National Parks whenever he can. The next big family outing planned is to Cradle Mountain when the weather warms up a bit.
Tom’s also proactive in raising money for Movember in Parks. “It’s the sixth year now I’ve organised a team for Parks. “Last year we did really well, we had over 20 Members involved and we raised over $5000. “I’m hoping that this year we can almost double that – I’m hoping for 40 Members and raising about $10,000 – I think that’s achievable.”