The last two weeks, the HACSU offices have been lucky to host another fantastic cohort of participants in the Anna Stewart Memorial Project (ASMP) !
This time around we have two Annas: Leah and Michelle who come from Mental Health and Disability respectively.
For those who aren't familiar with ASMP, it's a two-week internship program, run in conjunction with the Victorian Trades Hall Council, designed to encourage women to become active unionists. It runs twice a year and at HACSU, we've had some fabulous women attend through the program, all of whom have become valuable activists on behalf of HACSU.
We had a quick chat with Michelle about her experience with the program. Michelle is a Disability Support Worker and has worked with DHHS for 27 years and is now working for one of the new providers. In her time working in the sector, she’s done a variety of roles from office work to outreach, as well as being an Operations Manager and now 2IC (second in charge)!
Michelle told us that one of the best things about her job is that even now, she's still learning new things. For Michelle, ASMP presented a great opportunity to push herself into the activist space and break out of her comfort zone. Not knowing quite what to expect before she started, Michelle has found the experience to be everything she could have hoped for and more!
For Michelle, having the opportunity to spend time with likeminded women and learn more about the union has been fabulous! Doing ASMP has given her more confidence and a much-needed boost in self-esteem. She has made connections with other women from other unions who have quickly become great friends.
Like many of you, Michelle has been involved in the transfer of services to non-government providers, and all the changes and upheaval that has brought. It's been a tough year for Michelle personally and she feels that ASMP came along at exactly the right time. She feels like after this experience, she'll be able to go back to her workplace and tackle the new systems and work environment so much better, with the support of her sister unionists.
Along with being empowered and and supported by the fantastic Women's Team at Trades Hall, ASMP also gives practical tips and tools for being an active unionist, while also delving into workplace issues affecting women.
This round has been focused on issues connected with gendered violence in the workplace. Activities have included civil disobedience stunt outside the Royal Women’s Hospital drawing attention to the issue (check out the HACSU Women’s Network Facebook page for photos from the event). The stunt had our Annas out talking to the public about being Safe, Respected and Equal at work. Michelle said that while she found it challenging, she did it!
At HACSU, we love activities that enable our members to have more confidence and feel capable as representatives for the union! We're especially excited to give opportunities to women, for whom we know there are barriers to becoming leaders.
ASMP usually runs every May and October and is open to all women unionists. Keep your eye out for the next call out for expressions of interest, maybe you or an amazing woman you work with could be an Anna. We’d love to have you!