Meet Judy Kuo, a talented freelance artist and illustrator based in Melbourne who designed our ’40 years strong’ illustration to commemorate our 40th anniversary. She’s a union member at the Australian Services Union and part of the Workers Art Collective, a collective of leftist artists and writers producing work as part of grassroots movements. Judy also worked at the Victorian Trades Hall Council as a Research Organiser for several years. She’s been a supporter of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA since beginning work in the union movement in 2019 and became an APHEDA member not long ago. 

Q. What motivates you to be a part of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA?

I believe it is the responsibility of unionists in Australia to support unionists overseas who risk their lives and livelihoods to build worker power in their community. Just as workers working in a different industry deserve my solidarity, so do workers beyond our borders. In one way or another, we are all connected by the material realities of global supply chains and economic inequalities. Whether it is the manufacturing workers in China who make our smartphones, or the waste management workers in Indonesia who must deal with our environmentally damaging rubbish, we are all part of a system that makes our global solidarity necessary.  

Q. What part of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA’s work are you most connected to/proud of?

As a Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA member, I currently feel most proud of and connected to APHEDA’s work showing support to Palestine in the face of violent occupation and besiegement by Israel. Through its Gaza Appeal and its collaboration with Australian Palestinian advocacy groups, APHEDA is playing an important role uplifting the voices of Palestinian unions and workers who are courageously speaking truth to power and fighting for their lives.  

As an APHEDA member, I am also proud that APHEDA has supported countless projects led by working people in Palestine, from women’s cooperatives to agricultural infrastructure, long before many Australian unionists were fully aware of the plight of Palestinians. APHEDA’s commitment to standing up for Palestine and other oppressed peoples, beyond the scope of employment and workplace conditions, is one of the main reasons I became an APHEDA member.

Q. Could you share what were your thoughts and inspiration for designing for our 40th illustration?

When creating the Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA 40th anniversary illustration, I was especially inspired by the way that APHEDA maintains its relationships with unionists across the globe. APHEDA will not only respond to the urgent needs of unionists in other countries but will also maintain and deepen relationships there to make a lasting impact. Beyond one-off projects or crisis response, APHEDA demonstrates its commitment to international solidarity by its enduring support in decades-long campaigns such as the Ban Asbestos campaign that helped outlaw asbestos in Vietnam in 2023. I am deeply inspired by the way APHEDA conducts its work as a collaborator and friend of marginalised and oppressed communities around the world. In the 40th anniversary illustration, I try to convey this sense of friendship, solidarity and equality.

Q. What would you say to inspire others to engage with APHEDA and contribute their efforts?

I would encourage fellow workers to engage with and support APHEDA because it is one of the few organisations in Australia that actually demonstrates solidarity, rather than charity, to workers’ struggles overseas. In Australia, international charity is often couched in harmful and patronising attitudes towards colonised and oppressed people. However, APHEDA shows that it is invested in supporting the leadership of unionists in their communities.  

In so many places around the world, workers are made to work in dangerous conditions and on unliveable wages today as a downstream effect of historic colonial violence and current global inequalities. Ultimately, it is our responsibility, as people sheltered from and even benefiting from these harms, to make a material and political commitment to those unionists risking their lives to fight these inequalities in their countries every day. Being an APHEDA member is an important part of fulfilling that responsibility. 


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