Anna Stewart Memorial Project 2019
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 8, 8 November 2019, page no. 21
Each year, our Union proudly hosts the Anna Stewart Memorial Project (ASMP) and elects two rank and file women to participate in the two-week program, which enables them to explore their own Union and another host union. Following a ballot of State Council, Deb McPherson and Cassie Munro were the 2019 “Annas”. The QTU also hosted two external guests, Lynnette Burns of The Services Union and Sheree Clarke from the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU).
What an amazing privilege to become a QTU “Anna”. Earlier “Annas” describe it as one of the best things you will ever do, and they were spot on!
My host union, the Finance Sector Union (FSU), celebrates 100 years this year. I observed an FSU Advocate provide initial phone support to a WA member, and spent a couple of days on the road with an FSU Organiser visiting banks, speaking with members, recruiting non-members and discussing EBs. It was disappointing to hear about gender pay differences and staff receiving emails asking them to volunteer to have their hours cut.
I had the pleasure of meeting Milton QTU staff, learning about their roles and their departments and going to schools with Organisers, discussing the EB9 offer. The QTU really knows how to recruit passionate, inspirational employees. On top of that, there was the TAFE Stop Work meeting and QuEST BlackCard training in Toowoomba.
But wait there’s more. I had the honour of a guided tour of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, and returned to QIRC later in the week to witness a successful hearing involving the QTU and the department.
I attended a QTU Executive meeting and had an opportunity to comment on matters the QTU was attending to, including the department's draft “Able strategy; Valuing talent in all abilities”.
I sincerely thank the QTU for this awesome privilege and all it does for members. I highly recommend women activists contemplate nominating for the ASMP.
As soon as Deb and I were selected, I had questions - the first and foremost being: “What have I gotten myself into?” Looking back, the answer is: “An amazing experience with fellow unionists, learning more, developing networks and gaining an insight into how another union works”.
My host union was United Voice, who were right in the middle of their ballot to merge with the National Union of Workers. What this showed me most clearly was the importance of workplace reps having regular contact with members – a genuine human connection.
Working with United Voice delegates saw me visit nursing homes, dental clinics and even the Prince Charles Hospital, where I learned about the day to day working conditions of their radiographers. A very different world from my classroom!
The week with the QTU at Milton showed me how hard everyone works behind the scenes. I attended the initial TAFE Stop Work meeting, visited the QIRC, attended Executive, and even went on a school visit to the primary school I attended in the 1970s and 80s. I had the opportunity to visit the Gold Coast, where I went on visits to two schools. Then it was off to Toowoomba, where we saw how QuEST is helping teachers with much needed professional development.
Anna Stewart has given me understandings beyond my branch and beyond my profession. It has taught me the importance of the collective and has given me the confidence to stand up to do more.