The IEUA Canberra office was pleased to host Vanamali Hermans for part of her internship with UnionsACT under the Anna Stewart Memorial Project.
The Project is an internship designed to empower women workers and develop future leaders. It is aimed at giving participants an understanding of what unions do to tackle the inequality at work faced by women. Anna Stewart herself continually sought to include women directly in decision making within their unions, and it is in this spirit that Vanamali approached work at the IEU.
During her internship Vanamali designed and launched ACT specific Women’s Rights at Work (WRAW) chats, based on the successful model rolled out by the Victorian Trades Hall.
Vanamali believes that programs like the Anna Stewart Memorial Project are vital to the ongoing strength of the union movement, which historically has not always prioritised women’s ongoing fight for justice and equality.
“For years, discussions around workplace health and safety have been silent on the verbal, physical and sexual assault women face in professions such as teaching, and have failed to recognise issues like family violence as workplace issues too,” she said.
“It is important that when unions talk about workplace health and safety, they both understand and consider the gendered element that so strongly influences women’s experiences in the workplace.“
At the Canberra Office, Mali particularly enjoyed the experience of attending a Chapter meeting at St Thomas Aquinas Charnwood and looking over and comparing work practice agreements. Mali was also enthusiastic about her conversation with Christine Cooper about BOLD, the IEUA program to encourage women into leadership.
Marli stressed that the Anna Stewart Memorial Project internship is a great example of what an internship should be.
“I’m receiving an adequate wage and have been given a range of tasks to complete and various opportunities to learn about campaigns, computer programs, and organising practices.
“It is important when young people are given internships that the internships are not cheap or free labour to get menial and undesirable tasks completed.
“Internships should be treated as an opportunity to train and up-skill young people entering the workforce, and interns should be properly compensated for the labour they provide.
“The Anna Stewart internships are leading the way in terms of what should be expected from employers. The opportunities I’ve had to visit schools and workplaces, get a first hand look at feminised work and witness the importance of the IEU are invaluable, and surely something I will take with me into future organising.“