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Meet your Branch Councillors: Roxane Ingleton

Meet your Branch Councillors: Roxane Ingleton

Roxane Ingleton first knew she wanted to be a midwife when she was 16 years old. ‘It was actually the story that my mum told about my birth that inspired me,’ she says.

‘I’ve got an older brother and an older sister and the juxtaposition between the stories of their very medicalised hospital births, and the way she talked about her midwife when she had me at home really imprinted on me.’

So much so, in fact, that when Roxi (as she prefers to be called) finished school she chose not to study midwifery!

‘At that time, you had to do nursing and then do postgraduate in midwifery,’ she explains. ‘And much respect to nurses, I couldn’t do it. It doesn’t interest me at all. I just wanted to be a midwife.’

‘I can finally do it!’

So instead, the young Roxi embarked on a different course of study, which didn’t pan out, then travelled and spent several years ‘bouncing around’ in hospitality, customer service and call centres until at age 29 she learned of a direct-entry midwifery degree. ‘I was like: thank god I can finally do it!’

In her first year, however, Roxi’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She took a semester off to help care for him, and when she returned to study she could only manage part time.

‘I don’t know how students do it full time these days,’ she muses. ‘That’s something that Branch Council is working very hard on at the moment – trying to get funding for students to be able to carry them through all of their unpaid placements.’

Ten years on and now an endorsed midwife, Roxi has been on ANMF (Vic Branch) Council since 2022.

The perfect Venn diagram

She has always had a strong sense of social justice – which she feels can be crushing at times, with everything that goes on in the world: ‘it can be quite overwhelming’ – and as a student this propelled her to become politically active. She began volunteering for her local Greens candidate (now Federal Member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt) and found the whole experience thrilling.

‘The buzz was door knocking and speaking to people,’ she explains. ‘It’s such a taboo subject – talking about politics – and it shouldn’t be. It’s just saying: “Hey, what matters to you? What are your values?” And then trying to find common ground and connect over that.’

Eventually, Roxi realised that the union offered ‘the perfect Venn diagram’ of her professional and her personal lives; her passion for her job and her passion for social justice.

‘This is the biggest union in the country,’ she says, ‘and we can use that clout to make a difference. I know we have members who think that [politics and social justice are] not union business, and that saddens me because so many aspects of social justice impact on your health: climate change, poverty … look at the disparity in health outcomes between non-Indigenous Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians – it blows my mind that people who work in our industry didn’t consider voting yes.’

Determined to make a difference

Ultimately, the bottom line for Roxi – in joining the union; in becoming a Job Rep; and eventually in standing for Council – was her desire to ‘help make a difference for our members and to improve the world around us’.

She didn’t actually get elected the first time she ran, however – but she’s never let that stop her before: it took her seven applications before she got her first caseload position. ‘A lot of those times someone was already in that position, but they had to advertise it. I knew I wouldn’t get it but I had to put myself forward and show how committed I was.’

This commitment and determination is something she brings to all aspects of her life. It helps that she also loves to learn. Being on Branch Council,’ she says, ‘and because I haven’t done nursing training, one of the things that I really get a kick out of is learning so much about nursing, midwifery and the work of carers. I find it really fascinating – particularly learning about issues that affect us across the state and nationally.

‘I’ve loved meeting all the people that I’m on Branch Council with and learning from their experience. I have also loved learning from the walking union encyclopedia that is Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Gilbert, especially about all the machinations of EBAs.

Representing midwives

‘And I am so excited about the work of Nicole Allan, the maternity officer at Vic Branch, and how she represents and works for ANMF, midwives and strengthening maternity services across the state,’ Roxi adds. ‘Nicole’s work to recognise and utilise endorsed midwives in the public sector, and have them working to their full scope – prescribing MS-2 step, for instance – is something to really be proud of.’

Like Nicole, as a Councillor, Roxi has a particular focus on working to improve and expand maternity care services. She is also excited to continue her work in the social justice space, including looking at a position statement on legalising cannabis, and to begin ‘talking about pill testing’.

Ultimately, she is keen to emphasise that you, the members, are the union; and that just like her, you could also be a Councillor one day. You don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia of union knowledge – you just need to be determined, willing to learn, and to be passionate about wanting to improve the professional and personal lives of members.