A member's view of the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association

Friday, August 12, 2016

Brian Jessup is a medical imaging technologist, working in the Victorian public sector, and a proud member of the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association. This is his story.

At its heart, the Code Blue campaign has been about improving society, about better jobs for allied health professionals and about ensuring all Victorian patients receive better treatment. I am really proud to be able to say that collectively we have achieved those ends and that, to me, is what being union is all about.

I've been involved in union campaigns before, but not like this. This was a genuine grassroots campaign and it has restored my faith in unions. It has made me realise that we need committed and active unions if we, as a society, are to have the kinds of social services that all people everywhere deserve.

This is the first time I have seen my workmates stand tall and stand together and feel truly empowered in a workplace that can be so disempowering. This was invigorating for everyone and has, I think, made a difference to morale and our level of optimism around pressing issues such as workload. Clearly the notion of solidarity is not kumbaya, it is essential to achieving good outcomes.

One of the outstanding features of this campaign was something many thought was frivolous at the outset — the dinosaur motif. The use of huge inflatable dinosaurs opened the door to an industrial relations campaign that would otherwise not have been so successful.

Many of my colleagues, I suspect, would have baulked at taking an active role in a confrontational political campaign, but the dinosaur gave the thing a focus, made it fun and created some fantastic imagery. People wanted to get involved and were not afraid to have their faces out there on social media.

I think it is also important to note that the whole membership had a real say in this campaign. There were surveys, phone calls, meetings, workplace delegates at all meetings and so on. This openness, engagement and honesty has been vital to the outcome of the campaign.

Members need to be talking to non-members — or those I like to call potential members — about what is happening, and working to show them why this is important to them and their patients. The key thing I learnt is that we have an obligation to take an active role in campaigning if we want a good outcome.

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