It was an intensive two weeks, but my time at Federation in the Anna Stewart Program proved invaluable in better informing me about the workings of the union and provided a great insight into the range of activities in which Federation is engaged.
When participating in the Anna Stewart Program I wanted to know more about not only the big issues, such as SRS funding and what the plan is after Gonski, but also how I can help stand up and support my fellow teachers.
Plenty happened every day at Federation, it seems no one working there has enough time! In week one, I sat in on the debrief after Women’s Conference, Executive, and a Unions NSW special meeting. I also attended the Inner City Association meeting, a session of Fed Rep and Women’s Contact training as well as the St George TA meeting. As Federation members, we are so lucky to have all these amazing passionate people working for us; they are always on the go and willing to help in any way.
Week two was just as busy. I took part in the marriage equality rally alongside many members of Federation, which is supporting the “Yes” vote; a decision reached by the democratic process from the school/association level up. It was an amazing experience to see and feel the excitement and passion of so many.
At a meeting with the NSW Council of Social Services (NCOSS) we heard from passionate women from around the world discuss how we can reduce the pay gap within three generations as well as what some inspiring women are doing to address the issue now.
The evening of 13 September was the Equal Pay Day Dinner organised by Unions NSW. It was wonderful to hear how women’s cricket has won the right to equal pay, with the male cricketers supporting them by being “unemployed” for six weeks.
Being an Anna Stewart officer has taught me how Federation works and how big issues are addressed. The main message I took from the Anna Stewart Program is the underlying power of unions. I attended many meetings within Federation as well as with other unions. Through these meetings I saw Federation in action: standing up for members rights; assisting other unions to start their own women’s program; attending the Equal Pay Day dinner; and celebrating and the fact that by standing together we can make a difference.
Alison Fox teaches at Cooma Public School