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  Issue No 87 Official Organ of LaborNet 10 March 2001  

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Activists

Honouring Our Heroes

By Gina Preston

Anna Stewart changed the lives of Australian working families by helping women achieve balance between the competing demands of work and family.

 
 

Anna's commitment to working families will be highlighted this month when Peoplescape is launched in Canberra on February 28 by the National Council for the Centenary of Federation.

Peoplescape is a national project that will eventually see 5000 life-sized people-figures placed on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra for two weeks in November. The figures will be created by volunteers from organisations and communities around Australia and will tell the stories of people who have contributed to the development of the nation over the last century.

This month's launch will feature about 12 figures. Unions will be able to nominate other influential figures in coming months to feature in the Peoplescape project.

Anna Stewart led the first campaigns in the 1970s for maternity and childcare facilities for workers in traditionally male industries such as car plants. She also argued equal pay cases in industrial tribunals, and raised awareness of sexual harassment as a workplace issue.

Anna worked with unions from 1974 until her death in 1983 at the age of 35. She led by example, showing that women could successfully have a career and a family. Anna worked on the successful Maternity Leave test case, which awarded maternity leave to women in the private sector. She also heightened awareness of parenting issues by breastfeeding her son in industrial relations tribunals.

Anna's lasting legacy is the national Anna Stewart Memorial Project, which has sponsored work experience places in unions for more than 1000 women. Many now represent their colleagues as union officials; others have used their new skills to empower themselves and their work mates by improving workplace conditions.

Lucille Hughes, a Melbourne-based artist and graduate of RMIT Sculpture, collaborated with ACTU Contact Centre operator Linda Jenkin to create the figure. Lucille won the prize for Best Interactive at the Summer Salon of the Centre for Contemporary Photography in 1998 and is a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

She has used computer animation to convey Anna's personality, strength and her devotion to work and her family. Lucille explores portraiture by drawing life or photographic observations directly on the computer screen using the mouse as paintbrush or pencil.

"I was honoured to have been asked to represent Anna Stewart," she said. "I admire her for what she achieved for working women as well as personally from conversations I have had with people who knew her," said Lucille.

Linda Jenkin, who has participated in the Anna Stewart Memorial Project, believes the project exposes women to daily union activities such as campaigning, attending AIRC hearings and addressing members. It also gives them the motivation to become more involved in their union.

Linda describes the Anna Stewart Memorial Project "as one of the best courses I have been on".

* Union members who are interested in nominating and creating representations of other union figures should contact Gina Preston at the ACTU on 03/9664.7326


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*   Issue 87 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Working Woman
Cheryl Kernot on women in the workplace, Labor's male culture and where Meg went wrong.
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*  Activists: Honouring Our Heroes
Anna Stewart changed the lives of Australian working families by helping women achieve balance between the competing demands of work and family.
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*  Women: The Future is Female
Julia Gillard outlines the campaign to increase female representation within the Australian Labor Party.
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*  Unions: Sweatshops Ė Beyond 2001
FairWear convenor Debbie Carstens looks over a unique partnership between churches and unions to end exploitation in the textile industry.
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*  Politics: The Battle for Bennelong
Many trade unionists are working to kick John Howard out of office. But only one woman has a chance of kicking him out of his own seat. Meet Nicole Campbell.
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*  International: Border Skirmishes
Alana Kerr travelled to Thailand to observe first hand the battle to organise Burmese women workers in exile.
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*  History: Inside the Ladies Lounge
The McDonald sisters run Trades Hall, and have for over half a century. The building canít speak about what has gone on in that time, but Lorna and Elaine probably know it all.
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*  Satire: Taliban to Put One Nation Last
The Parliamentary fate of Pauline Hansonís One Nation party was further obscured today as key fellow right-wing extremists moved to distance themselves from the controversial Queensland politician and the group she founded and leads.
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*  Review: Seven Steps to Slavation
Jenny Macklin details the seven barriers that stand between women and a better working life.
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News
»  Sweat Stains the Great Aussie Cossie
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»  Chinks Emerge in Carrís Call Centre Stonewall
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»  Telstra Called on Part-Time Work
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»  ACTU Pushes for Reasonable Hours
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»  Ruddock Faces Legal Action Over Working Visas
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»  National Textiles Revisited: More Workers Dumped
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»  New on the Menu: Home Delivery AWAs
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»  Pay Equity Case Up And Running
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»  Child Care OH&S 'a Time Bomb'
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»  New Precedent for Workers with Print Disabilities
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»  Australian Shippers Promote Slavery
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»  Ambos Tried Without a Jury
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»  Unions Cautious Over New Insurance Deal
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»  Fears Over Future of Unfair Contracts
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»  APESMA Launches Professional Womenís Network Directory
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»  Womenís Gateway Launched
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»  EMILY's List Raises Flag for Women Candidates
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»  Web Pioneer Goes Global
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»  Public Education Day on March 15
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»  Activists Notebook
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Viva La Shane!
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»  Still the Same
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»  Sydney Council Tip of Iceberg
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»  New Battle Grounds
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»  Patricks Footnote
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»  The Ripple Effect
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