Building union influence and safe online spaces for women
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 6, 14 August 2020, page no.6
Every year, the Australian Education Union offers the national Rosemary Richards Scholarship to enable a woman activist to increase her skills and experience and explore innovative ways of supporting the AEU’s women members. This year’s recipient is QTU activist and Executive member Beck Humphreys, who will be looking at targeted digital media strategies that build union influence and create safe online spaces for women to engage in union activism. Here she explains what her project involves.
Digital communication is the future. The focus of my project will be the use of appropriate research from formal study to implement digital media strategies for a Gen Z trial group. These strategies will be further developed and trialled in the target area of Central Queensland, helping to engage and build union activism among women living and working in rural and remote communities.
The isolation of distance should not mean disengagement from union activism. As a unionist, I wish to use digital communication to further my union activism from my rural and remote location in Central Queensland. By undertaking formal studies into digital communication, I would like to be at the forefront of implementing targeted strategies that improve my involvement in union campaigns, training and meetings. By work-shadowing my Regional Organiser and working with them to create targeted strategies, my aim will be to extend union communication capabilities and improve member participation in union campaigns, as well as training and meeting attendance.
The Queensland state election in October will be a prime time to implement digital communication strategies with political content that will be safe for female activists to interact with, comment and give feedback on without the fear of being "trolled" in an online space. Creating safe online spaces for women activists to interact with union material is vital if we are to ensure that AEU women feel supported and safe when communicating online. The knowledge gained from two proposed trials will support our organisation moving forward by providing strategies that engage rural and remote membership and the very “tech savvy” millennials.
This project allows time to strategise and to trial digital communication strategies in a safe and closed environment.
Throughout the current COVID-19 crisis, digital communication has become vital when informing the broader membership of important information critical to everyday working conditions. Without accurate, hard-hitting and engaging digital communication strategies, mainstream media and “fake news” can overrun union messaging. More research into this relatively new area of study is needed, as online union messaging goes viral and becomes uncontrollable. Scholarship funding to continue research into this ever-evolving space is vital so that our great union can deliver clear and concise digital messaging to the broader membership.