Like nursing and midwifery, working in a union is the type of workplace that nurtures the development of strong, loyal, life-long friendships.
ANMF (Vic Branch) has lost one of our dear friends with the sudden passing of Industrial Officer Brendan Soraghan on Sunday 3 December.
Brendan was a much-loved and respected friend, colleague, comrade, leader, teacher and mentor to many ANMF staff.
He dedicated more than three decades to the trade union movement.
He was a trained teacher, but found his union path in early career roles supporting migrant workers as a research officer at the law firms Slater and Gordon and Herbert Geer and Rundle. Later he worked as an industrial officer at the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (Victorian Branch) and then became the TCFUA’s national industrial officer.
Brendan joined ANMF as an industrial officer in 1996. For 27 years he was a highly-skilled negotiator working to improve the wages and conditions of ANMF members – Victorian nurses, midwives and personal care workers.
Resolving individual disputes in our members’ favour was when he really shined. Apart from being a skilled and fierce advocate, he also understood the importance of ensuring members fully understood the process of negotiations to resolve their dispute. It was a process that happened with them, not to them.
He was a strategist and was integral to countless successful enterprise bargaining campaigns.
He also understood the importance of ANMF’s history, not so much in a sentimental way (although there was a bit of that too) but how it applied to contemporary industrial disputes and campaigns.
With his music knowledge he created an enduring campaign soundtrack for thousands of ANMF members fighting to stop the substitution of nurses and midwives with unqualified health assistants ages during the 2011-12 Respect our Work EBA campaign. Members heard their fight and their story in songs such as Tom Petty’s ‘I won’t back down’, Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’, Dougie MacLean’s ‘Not lie down’, Weddings Parties Anything’s ‘Sisters of Mercy’ (written about the 1986 50-day Victorian nurses strike) and ‘I see red’ by Split Enz.
Brendan also had a special gift ensuring all staff working in the Branch office, regardless of their position, understood they had an important role in ANMF’s work and our EBA campaigns and that they were part of something bigger that changed lives.
We will remember his legendary loyalty, kindness, generosity, knowledge, sage advice, sense of fun and love of everything Irish. We will miss his droll wit and his playlists.
Brendan loved the union movement, his family, his friends, his music and his Bulldogs.
He has left us too soon.
Brendan was married to ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick. Our condolences and love to Lisa, Liam and Stephanie and their extended Soraghan and Fitzpatrick families.
Thank you to the members, employers and everyone who has sent messages of condolences and their wonderful reflections of Brendan.