Honouring Anna Stewart by Supporting Union Women

Anna Stewart was a prominent union official and a long-time campaigner for women’s rights.  

Anna was a founding member of the first Women’s Committee of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. She passed away in April 1983 and in honour of her contribution, the Anna Stewart Memorial Project was established, with the inaugural program taking place in Victoria in April 1984.  

Today, Women’s Committees in each state continue to operate: organising events including conferences, rallies, and training courses.  

Importantly, these committees are structured opportunities for support and knowledge-sharing between union women and each provides a platform for prioritising women’s issues within the broader union movement.  

The 2022 Tasmanian Anna Stewart Memorial Project took place during the first week of August, driven by Unions Tasmania’s Marta Hodul Lenton and the Australian Services Union’s Karen Tantari. 

Women Delegates from both the private and public sector and from all regions of the state attended the five-day training course held at Unions Tasmania in Hobart.  

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Project participants, fondly referred to as ‘Annas’, received training on organising, campaigning, the political system and industrial law.

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The program commenced with a panel of former participants. This year, that panel included our very own CPSU Executive Councillor Tania Shilcock who shared her learnings from the course alongside union Delegates from the Australian Services Union. 

The panel was a perfect start to the week as it showcased the supportive friendships that had forged between the Annas throughout the week, and left new participants motivated to make the most of the unique opportunity they had to learn, network and develop their skills.

It was lovely to hear that the Annas from each year still keep in contact and share how they’re standing up for union values in their own workplaces. 

The following day was all about brushing up on industrial knowledge and workplace rights.  

Participants learnt about minimum entitlements as well as advocacy. By the time the afternoon hit, the Anna’s had learnt how to read and apply the law and make an appearance in an industrial tribunal – so together we marched down to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission to give it a go in front of Deputy President Neroli Ellis. 

The advocacy skills of participants were incredibly impressive – with half representing worker interests and the other half having a unique opportunity to make submissions on behalf of the bosses. We were incredibly grateful for the time Deputy President Ellis committed to the program, including meeting with participants earlier in the day to share more about her role on the bench. 

The days that followed continued to build on industrial and campaigning skills – and included meeting Members of the Tasmanian Parliament and attending the Unions Tasmania Women’s Conference. 

Here’s a full list of the activities undertaken by participants: 

  • Anna Elders Panel 
    with Tania Shilcock  
  • Women’s Rights at Work  
    with Marta Hodul Lenton (Unions Tasmania) and Karen Tantari (Australian Services Union) 
  • Learning to write and deliver a compelling speech  
    with Jess Munday (Secretary of Unions Tasmania) 
  • Industrial Law  
    with Natalie Jones and Deputy President Neroli Ellis 
  • Work Health and Safety 
    with Chester Somerville and Rhiannon Salter 
  • Organising to Win  
    with Jon Clark (ACTU) 
  • Workers’ Compensation 
    with Mylinda Purtell (Principal Solicitor of Worker Assist) 
  • Political Panel 
    with Cassy O’Connor MP, Michelle O’Byrne MP and Meg Webb MLC 
  • Australian Super 
    with Jaclyn Livingstone 
  • Anti-Discrimination 
    With Dino Ottavi (IEU) 
  • APHEDA International Sisterhood Workshop 
    with Holly Fingland (Australia), Ricar Pascoela (Timor Leste), Elisabeth Araujo (Timor Leste) 

The overall aim of the program is to return Delegates back to their jobs with an expanded skillset as workplace leaders. Organisers hope that after the program, Annas will take up leadership roles in their unions and encourage more workers to join their union. 

The program will take place again in 2023 and CPSU women Delegates can attend by utilising their five days paid Delegate leave for the calendar year.  

If you’re interested in receiving a reminder about the 2023 program and participating as a CPSU Delegate, please email n.jones@tas.cpsu.com.au!

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