What does it mean to belong?

This year’s IEU Support Staff Conference will explore the themes of Community, Connection and Belonging.

Keynote speaker Yassmin Abdel-Magied is no stranger to these themes, having founded Youth Without Borders at age 16, a group which empowers young people to work together towards positive change in their communities.

The first female mechanical engineer in Australia to work on offshore oil rigs at age 21, Yassmin said she’s used to “always being different” and yet she believes in being ‘authentic to yourself”.

“When I started on oil rigs I thought I had to act like one of the boys, but I soon realised you need to understand your intrinsic value as a person and always be yourself.”

Youth Without Borders was a success because it provided individuals with a safe space where they were valued and given a voice, and everyone’s ideas were considered.

The Union movement and the IEU in particular provides the same opportunity for support staff, a safe place where individuals can have their voices heard and gain strength from being part of a collective.

Although she has not been directly involved with the union movement, Yassmin’s family in her native Sudan were founding members of the union movement in that country.

“I am fascinated by the union movement and the power it can give people,” Yassmin said.

“I started Youth Without Borders just with blind faith that anything was possible, and that individuals could change the world if they got together.

“You can never underestimate the power of the group.”

Queensland Young Australian of the Year in 2015, Yassmin said she has never set out to be a ground breaker, she just does the things she wants.

“Whatever I do, I am always the only one that looks like me, so I just do stuff.”

A passionate petrol head, Yassmin has also broken into the world of Formula 1, producing a podcast on the topic, and has made numerous media appearance on shows such as Q&A, as well as presenting the ABC show Australia Wide for a short stint. She published her memoir Who Do You Think I Am? last year. This year’s support staff conference will also feature the following workshops and seminar:

Seminar session

Table Talk – The Sydney Alliance

Workshop sessions

Empowerment through Engagement Anita Tang, Advocacy Advisor and Campaign Coach

Building Community - Finding your Tribe Karen Forbes, IEU Officer

The Yarning Circle

Lee Townsend

Connections with the Wider World Ann-Maree McEwan, IEU Officer, and

Your IEU

The Conference is on Friday, 11 August at the Mercure Sydney. Details and bookings: http://www.ieu.asn.au/event-list/event-detail?eid=2483

John Quessy
IEU Secretary