The vice-president of Geelong Trades Hall, Christine Couzens, has been awarded the Jenny George Award for the advancement of women in unions. Couzens was presented with the award by Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow on March 7.
The award was in recognition of Couzens' role in organising and providing new leadership training courses for women in Geelong throughout 2006. She organised a committee that encouraged women unionists to step into leadership roles and provide opportunities to learn skills such as chairing meetings, public speaking, organising networks and campaigns through a mentor program.
Couzens said, "I'm just the representative of a team of women in Geelong. What we've initiated here doesn't appear to be happening in other places. We've identified that women want to be involved [with], and play leading roles in, the trade union movement. I think our strength was that we built solidarity between a diverse group of women from all occupations. Hopefully we've set a precedent which will be copied by other communities."
On March 9, some 75 people celebrated International Women's Day at Geelong Trades Hall at an annual breakfast that is fast becoming a tradition. The breakfast was addressed by three rank-and-file women unionists who have been involved in, or supported by, the Geelong Trades Hall women's committee.