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From a conversation to a policy

From a conversation to a policy

Job Reps and HSRs voting at the 2018 Annual Delegates Conference.

What happens at the Annual Delegates Conference

It was the first time for 172 nurses, midwives and personal care workers.

Some didn’t know what to expect and were nervous.

They shouldn’t have been. They were welcome at the 2018 Annual Delegates Conference. The commitment they had made to be there was understood.

They were about to become part of something bigger.

Almost 600 others, with many an ‘annual dels’ under their belt, chatted with colleagues and waved a hello to familiar ANMF staff. If they had time, they exchanged a quick update on an issue at work with their organiser.

They were Job Reps and Health and Safety Reps. Many were both.

They found their allocated seats alongside others from their workplace.

The configuration of the room – rows of tables ‘classroom style’ – indicated there was work to be done. There would still be some laughs during the two days, some fun at the dinner and a surprise visit by the Premier Daniel Andrews. The promise of Judith Lucy’s dry, self-deprecating humour at the end was something to look forward to – audience participation may be required if you’re sitting at the front.

Many of the reps had started their conference work months before. Meeting with ANMF members in their wards, units or small workplaces, they had discussed issues important to them that had a broader relevance to nurses, midwives and carers. They’d nominated reps to be a mover and a seconder and submitted their carefully drafted motions to ANMF.

It’s how change happens.

To have a motion debated, the mover and the seconder had to be at the conference. They were given the opportunity to address the conference to convince the majority of 749 of their peers to vote in support.

Thirty-four motions were on the agenda for debate and a vote. Occasionally the motion was too specific to a workplace and the reps were asked to raise it with their organiser for a local solution. Sometimes, reps accepted an amendment from another delegate. Not every resolution was carried. Those that were will guide the direction of the union.

The motions varied from improvements members wanted in their next enterprise agreement to advocating change in areas of social justice. A request that ANMF negotiate the extension of the public sector enterprise agreement’s fatigue management principles to casual and agency staff was passed. As was a call on the union to speak out about housing affordability and homelessness and to advocate for measurable actions to reduce the mortality rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This democratic process has been happening since 40 Job Reps attended the first conference in 1993. It often contributes to the development of logs of claims (that’s union speak for a list) for ANMF’s negotiations with employers for members’ wages and conditions. It’s how policies have been developed on ratio improvement priorities, marriage equality, voluntary assisted dying, environmentally sustainable practices in healthcare and even our name change from ANF to ANMF.

Members with ideas and initiatives for change and improvement should start talking to their Job Rep or Health and Safety Rep about drafting a motion for debate at the 2019 Annual Delegates Conference. It’s how change happens.

For details on drafting a motion and registration see anmfvic.asn.au/delsmotions

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