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Edd Ashmore on Twenty Years of Volunteering for Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA

Jul 30, 2020

For Edd Ashmore, union activism has always been part of his life: “I was a rabble-rouser, I used to go along to every union meeting I could.”

Edd first joined the NSW Teachers’ Federation while a student at Teachers College in the early 1960s, but got really active with the Union in the early 1970s. It wasn’t long after that Edd combined his unionism with his activism in the gay rights movement. “It was a very repressive era” for gay people in the 1970s, but Edd was a determined campaigner. 

“I went ahead with my activism regardless of the risk. Being outed was not a good thing to happen to you in those days, the risk was high.”

And despite the dangers, Edd worked to organise GAYTAS (Gay Teachers’ and Students Organisation). The organisation campaigned for the rights of gay teachers and students, and in 1980 it successfully won a Federal government grant to develop educational and support materials for queer students.

“The unionism gradually developed into the gay activism, and the gay activism took over. I kept on fighting within the union for gay rights. But there was no international stuff in the union, it was only when I came to volunteer for Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA that the internationalism started to kick in.”

“I didn’t know anything about international affairs until I came to work as a volunteer in 2000, I was really ignorant about that but I took it up very quick; it fitted in with my view of the world. It wasn’t hard to fit in with Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. I felt comfortable there, it was a place with ideals and ideas that I’m interested in and I was very happy to work with them.”

And after many years of contribution to the organisation, Edd joined the Union Aid Abroad – APEHDA Study Tours to Laos and Timor Leste.

For Edd, visiting an asbestos-awareness project in Laos was impacting. “It was a real eye-opener that there were people working in this terrible situation, but Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA was there supporting them to get unionised… It was extraordinary.”

For Edd, the Study Tours gave him an opportunity to see how his solidarity was making an impact. “It was really affecting. It was a recognition of what Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA was actually doing, and the good that was being done. The projects were clearly directed, the staff knew exactly what they were doing.”


It is this face-to-face connection with Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA’s projects and partnerships that has made him a life-time supporter of the organisation:

“If you join Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and become a supporter, what you are doing is helping people in a whole range of countries around the world into a better life. That’s basically what Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA does.”

Live Your Solidarity

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA relies on the solidarity shown by thousands of union members like Ed. By becoming a member of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, you will be supporting vulnerable workers and communities around the globe fight for decent work, safe workplaces, and sustainable livelihoods.

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