I am excited to be your new Secretary of the Australian Services Union.
Two weeks ago, Natalie Lang resigned from the ASU to take a new role at the ACTU, the peak body for unions, and I was unanimously endorsed by our rank-and-file Executive delegates to replace her as Secretary.
It is a great honour to lead a union of active, progressive members like you.
On my first day as Secretary, I want to hear from you about your priorities for our union. Please tell me what you think and what is important to you in this confidential survey. Your answers will help set our ASU priorities and drive our agenda for the next 12 months and beyond.
I grew up in the Blue Mountains, raised by two teachers who were proud union members. They instilled in me the values of social justice, equality and solidarity. I went to school in Penrith, and received a scholarship to study law at Sydney University.
When I graduated from university, I applied to work at the ASU, inspired by the historic Equal Pay campaign that was underway at that time. I was incredibly proud to get to work with Sally McManus and ASU members on that successful campaign which delivered pay increases of up to $650 per week for community and disability workers.
From that campaign I learnt that together, we can achieve great things, and that the ASU is a union that aims high, never gives up and ultimately wins significant victories.
As your Assistant Secretary since 2015, I have led our work in the community and disability sectors – where we have seen record growth, as more and more workers make the decision to join our active, strong, and united union.
Since that time, I have worked with members across our union to:
- Win significant improvements in wages and conditions across industry Awards and Enterprise Agreements
- Secure paid isolation leave and COVID Care Allowance for thousands of workers in the community and disability sectors during the pandemic
- Save Equal Pay funding and homelessness services from savage funding cuts under the Coalition Government
- Stop the Coalition Government more than doubling fees for community services degrees
- Support ASU members in the fight against privatisation and the unfair wages cap in the water and transport industries
- Provide free, tailored training and professional development for members via the ASU College
- Create the Independent Support Worker Network for workers in the NDIS gig economy
Unions like the ASU have always been at the forefront of social change. The union movement is the biggest social justice movement in Australia. One of my proudest moments was standing with ASU members as we won the marriage equality campaign in 2018. I am committed to supporting our First Nations members in the campaign to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty, Truth. As Secretary, I will always stand for inclusion, diversity, social justice and equality.
It is, and always has been, member participation that drives our union.
It was ASU members working in women’s services that started the We Won’t Wait campaign for paid domestic violence leave, and this year 11 million workers will have access to this life saving entitlement.
Now, I want to hear from you. As an ASU member, you are at the centre of every decision we make. It is your work, your industry and your union – and we can shape them together.
Every ASU member has received a link to an online survey - please take a few minutes to fill in this survey to let me know what you think the priorities should be for your union.
I want to acknowledge the work of Natalie Lang, who led our union for 8 years. Natalie is an inspiring feminist leader. As her Assistant Secretary for the last 8 years, she has taught me so much, and I will strive every day to continue and build on her great legacy.
I also want to acknowledge Judith Wright, my Deputy Secretary. She is one of the brightest minds in the union movement – her legal and industrial knowledge has helped us achieve better outcomes and wins for members, especially in the transport, water and travel industries. I am excited to be working with Judith together as your ASU leadership team.
Thank you for being a member of one of the fastest-growing Unions in Australia. I promise to work tirelessly as your Union Secretary, always in the best interests of members and our union.
Please let me know what you think our priorities should be – I will be reading every response and will report back to members in the coming months on what you have told me,
Yours proudly in Union,