Changing the rules for working women

We are all leaders – in one capacity or other. Leadership is not simply a position; it is action.

This year’s Women’s Conference will feature keynote speakers Naomi Steer National Director, Australia for UNHCR and Ros McLennan General Secretary, Queensland Council of Unions.

The title of this year’s conference is Changing the Rules for Working Women and for Students in their Future Workplaces, and this theme will be approached from a number of angles.

Steer will talk about her life with the UNHCR, and how it helps women and girls. Steer has been dedicated to global human rights all her life. Her first job was with the Department of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat.

She then joined Actor’s Equity in Australia as an industrial organiser and eventually took up a position with Unions NSW. With UNHCR Naomi has been to Afghanistan, Burma, Somalia, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Chad and the DRC [Congo].

McLennan has been a proud IEU member for the last 20 years. Her address will explore what it takes, personally, industrially and politically, to both champion women in leadership positions and to support working women more broadly.

She will challenge conference participants to reflect on the work they do, the difference they bring, and the real and positive impact of their work on the lives of students, families and communities.

“This significant work value deserves both respect, recognition and reward from school employing authorities,” she said.

“We need to change the rules to ensure the professional experience of colleagues includes secure work, fair pay, workforce rights that can be enforced and more power for working people rather than big business.”

McLennan will offer an application of the Change the Rules campaign narrative as it applies to the school context.

“Building the power of our own Union and the wider Australian union movement relies on both growth and strength.

“The profile of the modern union member is more female, white collar and private sector than ever before.

“Cause for pause, as we consider whether or not some of our strategies for growth, gender inclusion in leadership, union structures, how we do our organising and collective bargaining, how we do politics and influence public policy are fit for purpose for who we are today.”

IEUA Assistant Federal Secretary Christine Cooper will run a workshop on the IEUA’s own Building Our Leadership Development (BOLD) program, developing women for leadership.

According to the latest ABS figures, 51% of union members are women, Cooper said.

“This represents a seismic shift in female union density from relatively low positions two decades ago. Yet there is still a lot more to be done for Australian women to be equal in the workplace,” she said.

“We are all leaders – in one capacity or other. Leadership is not simply a position; it is action. IEU women can be leaders in all aspects of our lives; in schools, in union structures and in communities.

“By standing together, IEU women can support each other to be BOLD leaders and make the necessary changes.”.

Cooper’s workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to develop some BOLD ‘what if’ ideas that women can do individually and collectively to lead for change.

Other presenters include AFL Giants captain and teacher Amanda Farrugia, who will talk about wellness and fitness, and there will be presentations by IEU officers on accreditation, teaching the millennial student and building connections in the community.