APHEDA People: Meet Danae Bosler (Victorian Trades Hall Council)

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is about people – people working together to make things better for all. As the global justice organisation of the Australian union movement, each and every APHEDA supporter, member, partner, activist and participant here in Australia and all around the world contributes to the work it takes to tackle inequality and injustice.

This month we speak to life-long unionist, member of the APHEDA Committee of Management and Chief of Staff at Victorian Trades Hall Council, Danae Bosler. Danae talks to us about the experience of COVID-19 and how we have simultaneously felt both isolated and alone but also more globally connected than ever before. Danae also discusses why international solidarity is more important than ever! Meet Danae!


What does it mean to be union to you?

I have been union all of my life – it runs in the family. To me unionism means solidarity and collectivism. It is just how we make our working lives better. Unionism is also fun; life is better in a team. Whether it is work or sport or union, humans are social creatures. I don’t know why anyone would be interested in individualism when you can be part of a team… and if you haven’t already done so, you should join Team APHEDA today.

Why is building internationalism in Australia important?

COVID has made us feel more alone and isolated. Yet never in my life have I felt more globally connected. Though I haven’t been overseas, I know that millions of workers around the world are going through what we are going through. COVID has given us a sense of international solidarity we have never seen before. A stand out being the solidarity shown for nurses and healthcare workers across the globe.

So this pandemic has made us realise that the COVID experience is an international one. When you can’t travel, it can feel hard to do international solidary. That is why APHEDA is such a real and practical way to contribute to international solidarity. The lived experience we had in Australia last year (particularly in Melbourne where I live) is being felt by workers – as least in some part – around the world. As workers and unionists in Australia, APHEDA is the vehicle for our internationalism.

There has never been more evidence of what a globalised world we live in so to think we can further the rights of workers in Australia without furthering the rights of workers overseas is just foolish. To think we can protect workers in Australia from the attacks on working conditions globally is foolish. We live in a global economy and a global world whether we like it or not.  And we’re going to have to work together to make it a better, more equal place. And being a member of APHEDA is one of the best ways we can live our internationalism, express our solidarity and make a real and practical contribution to achieve this goal.

What part of APHEDA’s work are you most connected to/proud of? Why?

There are two parts that I feel most proud of – APHEDA’s work in Timor Leste and the work APHEDA does to strengthen women’s power across the globe.

I have visited Timor Leste twice and I have seen the work that is being done over there that APHEDA supports. I have been lucky enough to visit Dili and Baucau and the projects there and they are second to none.

I am also really proud of the women’s projects – especially in Cambodia. A standout program is the work APHEDA has done with the Cambodian Prostitutes Union (CPU) who fight hard to combat institutional discrimination against sex workers in Cambodia. The solidarity that has been shown there through the APHEDA-supported program makes me feel very proud.

In this day and age, when work is uncertain, when we are not giving young people a chance to have permanent work, when we are giving them short and irregular shifts, we need someone to have our backs. We need our Unions to back us up and take on employers who are being unfair and who exploit vulnerable workers – migrant workers, refugees, young workers. We need Unions to come in and advocate for them to make things better for all of us.

Being Union means you come together with others in your sector to ensure good conditions. You come together in solidarity and together we are able to negotiate with employers because there is a huge imbalance between employer and employee.

As a Board Member, what do you see as the work that is most important for Union Aid Abroad to focus on into the future?

It is impossible to pick just one campaign or project. So I am going to pick three – Palestine, the asbestos campaign and advancing women’s rights. Firstly, I am really proud of the women’s programs that APHEDA works on so I believe that a commitment to these programs and developing them into the future are key. Secondly, our commitment to the projects in Palestine and with Palestinian refugees in camps in Lebanon is so important. It is crucial to maintain a presence there and continue to express our solidarity with a physical presence there. These project are our longest standing programs. Lastly, the asbestos campaign is a practical and hands-on campaign that is important for the safety of workers everywhere. It shows why global solidarity is important. And it shows that by joining APHEDA, we are also contributing to an asbestos-free future by being part of the global organising effort to eradicate asbestos once and for all.

When you have one-on-one conversations with people asking them to join Union Aid Abroad, how do you describe the work and ask people to join?

This is a great question! I actually talked about this with some of our new staff yesterday during an induction. I talked to them about the work of APHEDA and I described the work as solidarity, not charity. We took the time to sit and think about the difference between charity and solidarity at a practical level. Collectively, we need to have more conversations about the difference between the two models. And we can see that difference in the way APHEDA works. APHEDA has an empowering and uplifting model where both parties feel empowered by this experience. I also showed them APHEDA’s most recent video which sums it up nicely. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out!

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