ETU Queensland-NT Women’s Conference 2018 – A Time To Shine

Nicholas McCallum

'Changing the rules for working women is a critical part of our campaign.'

The fifth annual ETU QLD/NT Women’s Conference has set the benchmark for future conferences.

It had a great turnout, interesting and engaging speakers and real desire on behalf of the ETU’s growing female contingent to get active and engaged in their union.

The quality and depth of the debates and resolutions on industry and social issues were outstanding.

ETU Women: Making it work!

The conference was opened by State Secretary Peter Ong, who along with other speakers stressed the importance of these conferences in providing delegates with tools and confidence to talk to their workmates about industrial issues and their communities about what is happening in the political and social space.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil was an honoured guest, drooping in for a few hours on the second day to give an overview of the importance of Change the Rules campaign for female workers.

“Changing the rules for working women is a critical part of our campaign; we are fighting for equal pay, more secure jobs and 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave,” she said. 

“How do we do this?”

ACTU President Michele O'Neil (centre) visited the Women's Conference.

“Talk to everyone, get active. This is more than changing the government (while that is extremely important too) we need to change the rules.

"We should be positive and confident. As unionists we have fought and won before.

"We won Medicare and superannuation and we can win improvements into the future as well.

READ MORE: Meet the new ACTU President Michele O'Neil

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READ MORE: Rallies for a Pay Rise wrap up after month-long protest

"I am proud of Australian Unions’ ability to fight and win. It’s a campaign we need to win to ensure a fair future for working people. I’m proud of our collective campaigns for justice and fairness."

As women, be bold, every great victory comes out of collective struggle, when we stand together. Good things happen. 

Our union’s social justice principles were enhanced by the presentation from Michelle McDonald who outlined why human rights are union business and gave a thought-provoking talk about her work in helping people seeking asylum and refugees feel safe following traumatic experiences.

(From L to R) Sarah Brunton, ETU Qld-NT Secretary Peter Ong and Marnie Scobie.

She spoke candidly about some of the barriers she faced in her task, including ignorance, racism and a government that dehumanises people seeking asylum. She outlined the importance of choosing words carefully and putting ourselves in others' shoes. 

Lara Watson from the First Nations Workers Alliance (FNWA) presented to the conference on why the federal government’s failed CDP program needed to be scrapped. She also provided an update on their fight for wage justice.

The conference was a great success, capped off with a fantastic celebration of Union Activist Emma Miller at the awards night named in her honour.

During the 1912 Brisbane General Strike for the right to organise trade unions, Miller led a contingent of women to Queensland's Parliament House.

Emma Miller statue in Brisbane's King George Square, and the great lady herself.

During the march, the women were charged by policemen with batons, and Miller thrust her hat-pin into the police commissioner's horse, causing the horse to throw him and injure him severely.

The hatpin is an enduring symbol of the fight for union rights for female trade union members.

Two ETU Women were honoured on the night: Marnie Scobie and Sarah Brunton both from the Northern Territory. (You can read more about Marnie and Sarah's success in the ETU 2018 Yearbook, which will be arriving in letterboxes throughout December). 

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