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We Are Union VTHC
Anna Stewart Memorial Project

The Anna Stewart Memorial Project is a two week on the job training program for women and non-binary unionists. The program gives participants access to union organisations and the opportunity to develop their leadership and awareness of the ways in which unions can work to address the issues faced by women.

The Anna Stewart Memorial Project is in its 40th year in Victoria. More than 1000 women unionists have completed the Project in its 40 year history.

The two week program will equip participants with the knowledge and confidence to step up in their workplaces or unions, campaign for women’s rights and safety at work and empower other workers to take action.

Who is the Anna Stewart Memorial Project for?

The Anna Stewart Memorial Project is for women and non-binary people who are active union members, activists, delegates or leaders in their workplace or union and are ready to take the next step.

Speak to your union if you are interested in the Project and register your interest.

The next Anna Stewart Memorial Project intake is September/October 2024.

As a participant you will:

  • Gain meaningful insight into union organising and learn practical skills to organise your workplace and community
  • Gain improved understanding of organising, campaign theory and strategies
  • Organise a collective action or stunt with other participants

As a participant you will increase your understanding of:

  • Union women’s history and women’s role and contributions to the union movement
  • Current and emerging social and industrial issues for working women and strategies to organise and empower women workers
  • The day-to-day operation of unions including structures, state and national peak bodies and union governance
  • Relevant legislation, regulations and tools to advocate for women’s safety and rights at work
  • Current campaigns impacting women workers and how to get involved
  • Your union, it’s structures and campaigns and those of other trade unions

Participating unions should:

  • Nominate and sponsor members for the project and identify a dedicated union mentor to support their member throughout
  • Provide participants with a program for their union days with a range of experiences that add to the depth and breadth of their knowledge of the trade union movement, its operations, and what it means to be a union official
  • Work with participants and their workplace to facilitate appropriate leave and pay arrangements for the duration of the Project
  • Encourage full participation in the Project and engage with activities such as the Anna Stewart Memorial Project graduation and stunt

Unions nominating a member should have the member complete an application form. Please contact [email protected] for the form.

A former journalist and active Victorian union official from 1974 to 1983, Anna Stewart died tragically in 1983, aged 35.  Her involvement with the union movement began at a time when women workers comprised one third of the paid workforce, but the few industries in which women were employed offered jobs that were poorly paid, lacked job security, flexibility, skills recognition and unpaid maternity leave.

A prime consideration motivating Anna was the need to develop strategies which would address the issues confronting working women and to facilitate the important contribution that women can make to the trade union movement.

With the Federated Furnishing Trades Society of Australia, Anna Stewart successfully spear-headed the first blue collar union campaign for maternity leave award provisions.  At the time, Anna was in the late stages of pregnancy with her third child.

After moving to the Victorian Vehicle Builders Federation in 1975, Anna fought for child care facilities in car plants, researched and argued work value cases, initiated campaigns against sexual harassment as an industrial issue, and assisted with the ACTU Maternity Leave Test Case and campaign.

Many women gained strength and confidence from her example of combining motherhood and a career.  During Commission hearings, Anna would either breast feed her young son or seek adjournments to do so, exposing the Commission, employers and the union to the needs of women workers. The influence of Anna’s work is difficult to measure.

Anna was dedicated to raising awareness of and addressing the issues confronting working women. Anna believed it is vital for women to become active in their unions, to take on leadership roles and to work together to achieve common goals.

Anna died in 1983, aged 35. After her death her union friends and colleagues decided to preserve her legacy through the formation of the Anna Stewart Memorial Project.

Now in its 40th year more than 1000 women unionists have completed the Project in Victoria.

Join the women who have come before and speak to your union about participating in the Project and register your interest.

The next Anna Stewart Memorial Project intake is September/October 2024.





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