Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA People: Meet Michelle

Feb 5, 2016 | APHEDA People

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.

Meet Michelle Robertson.

We welcomed Michelle to the Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA Board at our last Annual General Meeting. Michelle is a Senior Industrial Officer at The ASU – The Services Union – Queensland and has been very involved in the Queensland Activist group.

What does it mean to be union to you?

MR: Being Union means being part of a progressive movement that doesn’t just address individual concerns. A collective approach is always going to be more effective in countering injustice and this is so in the workplace and outside of it.

What does it mean to be APHEDA to you?

MR: APHEDA provides the opportunity for the Australian Union movement to show its support for the lives and struggles of workers in other countries in a practical way which recognises that there is no industrial justice without workers justice. Practical outcomes which focus on the ongoing ability of workers to improve their lives is very important.

Why do you think it’s important for APHEDA to grow its membership base, those contributing monthly to the work, to 20,000 by 2025?

MR: Monthly contributions will enable good planning for future sustainability and less reliance of precarious funding programs. Growing the membership to do this ensures our independence from funding constraints. (Ed: you can join here)

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

MR: In 2012 I was fortunate to be involved in the Thai Burma Border Study Tour. This demonstrated to me in a very clear way the importance of the projects the APHEDA was involved in and the breadth of the work. Since that time the Queensland Activists group has renewed and has regular functions and activities to raise money. (Ed: For more information about Activist Groups – contact us office@apheda.org.au)

What do you see as the work (areas, issues, etc.) that is most important for APHEDA to focus on into the future?

MR: That’s a difficult question as there are many priorities. Issues affecting women must be a priority to achieve equality in their workplace and in their community. And in the world. Health and Safety; anti-slavery and trafficking projects, and workplace organising immediately come to mind.

When you have one-on-one conversations with people asking them to join APHEDA as a contributor how do you describe the work and ask people to join? Do they say yes?!

MR: I’m certainly not the best recruiter in my office! In one-on-one conversations I am always surprised by how you can shift a person’s opinion by giving examples of the work you have seen and the direct impact that a small contribution can make.
(Ed: Michelle works alongside other activists to make sure the staff at her branch are members of APHEDA and The Services Union includes information about APHEDA in delegate training and conversations.)

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