APHEDA People: Meet Lisa Chesters MP (Member for Bendigo)

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 long-term member of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA and passionate internationalist, Lisa Chesters MP. Lisa talks to us about the importance of being a union member and how international solidarity is vital if we are to ensure all our rights at work are protected and strengthened – regardless of our nation. Meet Lisa!


What does it mean to be union to you?

I am a proud member of the United Workers Union. A union and its members fight for fairness and justice. Being a member of your union means that you are not alone and it’s how you can change your workplace life for the better.

Union members who came before us worked together to win important rights – like sick pay, annual leave, penalty rates and reasonable work hours that many of us benefit from today

But together, we can do so much more. By joining a union, you’ll help secure a better life for you and those who have yet to come.


What does it mean to be APHEDA to you?

Being APHEDA is how we can support unionism and workplace justice here and overseas.

The struggles workers face overseas quite often have a direct impact on workers and their jobs here in Australia.

International solidarity and activism is vital if we are to ensure all our rights at work are protected and strengthened – regardless of our nation.


Why is it important for Australia to stand with Myanmar during this critical time?

We must condemn the Myanmar military for seizing control of Myanmar and for the detention of numerous political and civil society leaders.

Australia needs to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their fight for democracy. I want to acknowledge the many activists who have taken public action in Myanmar and in Australia.

The actions of the Myanmar military are a direct assault on Myanmar’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.

Australia is a great friend of Myanmar and is deeply concerned for the welfare and wellbeing of the people of Myanmar.



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

It’s hard to choose which APHEDA program or campaign I am most proud of. All of APHEDA’s work is critical.

In some countries, the right to join your union and fight for your workplace rights is discouraged or even illegal. Through visits and workplace meetings with APHEDA, I’ve met union leaders who, despite these challenges, are organising. It’s inspiring.

I’ve also had the opportunity to be involved in the “Asbestos. Not Here. Not Anywhere.” campaign.

In many countries, particularly in South East Asia, thousands of people are still exposed to deadly asbestos each day. It has not been banned in every country. If we are to secure an asbestos-free Australia, we need to secure an asbestos-free world.

A real strength of APHEDA is their partnerships with likeminded civil society organisations. One fabulous partnership is between APHEDA and the Karen Women’s Organisation, which aims to strengthen the capacity of Karen women in Karen State and in refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar Border to claim their rights.


As a Member of Parliament and long-time member of APHEDA, what do you see as the work that is most important for Union Aid Abroad to focus on into the future?

More of what APHEDA is currently doing! A strong and inclusive civil society and union movement is one of the core of foundations to any democracy. I acknowledge that funding is critical to this and I will continue to campaign for funding of core APHEDA programs and will encourage others to join.

Why is it important for people to join APHEDA?

For all the reasons I’ve already outline. APHEDA’s campaigns and projects are one way we can affect change and support solidarity actions with workers overseas.

APHEDA helps build powerful movements overseas and in Australia. These movements are how we can be part of the global fight against inequality and injustice.

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