When issues at Cheryl Mann's workplace were not getting sorted, she took matters into her own hands.
After being a HACSU member since 2012, Cheryl took the next step up and became a delegate when the last public sector disability enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) expired.
But Cheryl's work as a dedicated unionist didn't stop there, setting up the North East Border Trade Labour Council Women's Committee last year. On the back of her passion for women's rights and to commemorate the worldwide 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered -Based Violence , she ran a series of events in her region to pay tribute to the many Australian women who have lost their lives due to violence.
The foundation of these ideas came from attending the HACSU Women's Forum in 2019, as well as being a recipient of the prestigious Anna Stewart Memorial scholarship.
In light of a year defined by a pandemic, Cheryl has taken leave from her workplace at Home@Scope in Wodonga. This step back has not only made her reflect on her achievements, but also the stresses involved with the year itself.
"I couldn't drive to Wangaratta, which is 45 minutes away from me," she says when discussing the border closures between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne.
"We had to go from 12-hour support to 24-hour support within 10 hours' notice. It was hard to try to explain to them (clients) why their lives had changed. The situation was a really big pressure-cooker."
With over 20 years of experience working in the disability sector, it's safe to say Cheryl has never experienced anything quite like this. However, she is very much looking forward to getting to see her fellow HACSU members in person, as the camaraderie of being in a union is one of her favourite things about being a HACSU member.
"I love getting to know our members," Cheryl said.
"I also love getting to know other unions in this area and I am very involved with their industrial actions. I've done a lot of rallies. I remember when I was up at Myrtleford doing strikes and they said they would help us out with our rallies. I just love the camaraderie of everyone being together."
In typical Cheryl fashion, she continues to think positively and of others, even in the situation we've found ourselves in this year.
"Even while things aren't in a great place, you can still go in and help and do mental health checks and all that sort of stuff with different people."