More opportunities for women to participate in Anna Stewart Program

There are exciting changes to the Anna Stewart Memorial Program in 2019, including the introduction of a three-day training course for up to 20 participants designed for Association Women’s Contacts.

The two-week Council program, which allows for two women per Council in terms 2 and 3, will be expanded to include term 4. This means that the number of women who will be able to access the program will nearly triple to more than 30 per year.

A review of the program was undertaken by the Women’s and Anna Stewart Program Restricted Committee with the Women’s Coordinator in 2018.

Several factors that were considered included generational change, the results of long-standing affirmative action employment, barriers to participating, developments in technology, and the way members communicate and engage with the union.

The Anna Stewart Memorial Program has a significant history in Federation and the review sought to find the most appropriate ways to support women and increase their participation in all levels of the union. The proposal, endorsed by Executive, aims to:

  • increase women’s engagement and activism through exposure to Federation’s structures and procedures
  • allow women to gain confidence and experience from that participation
  • provide a network of support and encouragement for further participation
  • encourage more women to stand for election at all levels (eg Association President/Secretary, proxy Councillor, Annual Conference Delegate, Councillor, Executive, Relief Officers, etc).

Women represent 73.5 per cent of Federation’s 60,000 membership — as well as 71.2 per cent of employees in the Department of Education and 60 per cent in TAFE – but only 51.9 per cent of our Councillors in 2018 were women.

Initiatives such as the Anna Stewart Memorial Program complement the work of Organisers in building the capacity of women activists at the grassroots campaigning level in workplaces and Associations.

While the main channel for elected representation continues to be Associations, Federation must invest in programs that promote and maintain access for women.

It is the local Association that can provide a vital social and professional network contact point, which is why the committee proposed the training course to replace the term 4 project.

This is a long-term strategy and the implementation phase will occur in the current triennium (2019-2021).

Information about the Anna Stewart Program can be found on Federation’s website.

Leeanda Smith Women’s Coordinator