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2024 Delegates Conference: peace, humanity and kindness are union business

2024 Delegates Conference: peace, humanity and kindness are union business

More than 850 Job Reps and Health and Safety Reps at the ANMF (Vic Branch) annual Delegates Conference at the end of June debated and voted on more than 40 motions – submitted by ANMF members from across the state – for the purpose of helping to guide the direction of the Branch over the coming years.

This is a democratic, member-led process that has been successfully established for more than 30 years.

The motions that were debated and voted on included calling on the ANMF (Vic Branch) to work towards:

  • improved staffing levels in the Safe Patient Care Act
  • improved safety at work for nurses and midwives
  • improved private sector nurses’ and midwives’ working conditions and entitlements.

There were also several motions about social justice matters. These included calling on the Branch to advocate to government for an increase to Job Seeker and Youth Allowance, and for increased investment in public and social housing.

There were seven motions that referred to peace, the education of effects of war on populations, treatment of refugees, and Palestine and Israel. These included:

  • Two motions reaffirming that peace was union business. Both passed.
  • One motion calling on ANMF to develop professional education on the effects of war on the health of populations (no specific countries or regions were mentioned), which passed.
  • Two motions specifically mentioned Palestine (none mentioned Gaza). One motion calling on ANMF to join the boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against Israel was subject to extensive debate, was not supported by the majority of delegates and did not pass. The other, calling on ANMF to lobby the Australian Government to cut ties and place sanctions on Israel, was withdrawn and a vote did not occur.
  • A motion calling for equal treatment of Palestinian refugees (compared with Ukrainian and Afghani refugees) in Australia was supported by the majority of delegates and passed.
  • A motion calling for all asylum seekers to have access to Medicare and mental health support regardless of visa status or custodial setting also passed.

Motions that pass become resolutions, and may guide the Branch direction over the next 12 months. ANMF (Vic Branch) will need some time to begin the work on reviewing and responding to all of the resolutions passed at our two-day conference.

We continue to call for a ceasefire and long-term permanent peace in Gaza and Israel. We call for unrestricted humanitarian access to the people of Gaza. The Branch has made two official statements regarding Gaza and Israel on 1 November 2023 and 21 November 2023. Our position has not changed: we condemn the 7 October Hamas attack on the Israeli people, and we condemn Israel’s ongoing attacks on the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The Branch supports the International Council of Nurses’ #NursesforPeace campaign, established two years ago in response to the situation in Ukraine but now providing a range of support to nurses in various hotspots around the world, including Afghanistan, Sudan, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, the Bahamas, Myanmar, Palestine and Israel.

Members who wish to support the campaign can do so via Those who prefer to donate locally can try Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, which was founded in 1984 by ANF (as ANMF was then known) member Helen McCue.

Helen spoke at the Dels conference about Union Aid Abroad APHEDA’s work, which today includes projects in Myanmar, Samoa, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and more as well as in Palestine, and campaigns to ban asbestos globally, to address climate change and to support women workers’ rights.

Other speakers at the conference included:

  • Stephanie Cousins, the Global CEO of Talent Beyond Boundaries, a global skilled migration program for refugees
  • Margaret Beavis, co-chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
  • Michelle O’Neill, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and member of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce
  • Adjunct Professor Karrie Long, chief nurse and midwifery officer at Safer Care Victoria
  • Victorian Premier Jacinta Allen
  • Steve Sammartino, futurist, author and technologist.