Marni Jackson, a physiotherapist with some 15 years experience in healthcare, accepted a role on the Committee of Management in January this year. Last week Marni shared her experiences and thoughts on being part of the Committee.
I joined the VHPA Branch Committee of Management in January 2014 as I feel it’s essential for Health Professionals to be active in our Union to improve our pay and conditions- for me, that meant participating in BCOM.
I decided to become involved when it was clear the new leadership and organisers were committed to the growth of our union, were active in engaging union members, and were not afraid to take a stand with members for workplace justice. I wanted to contribute, and to challenge Union Members to consider wider issues – whether it’s sticking up for fellow members who are being locked out of their workplace in the private sector, or speaking out against funding cuts to healthcare services.
In concrete terms, being on BCOM involves attending evening meetings and the preparation ahead of these in terms of reading papers and other documents. I guess more broadly it means you need to be across what’s happening in the various different areas of the branch and seeing the bigger picture has always been a strength, one that I share with BCOM now as well.
The members of the committee are elected by their colleagues to ensure that the path the union is on is the right one and it is vital that committee members take their role very seriously. BCOM members need to ensure that the Branch is being managed appropriately which means being aware of the legal implications of decisions and actions and understanding a range of policies. In short, it falls to us to make sure the operational team are doing their jobs properly, in accordance with good governance standards, and are acting in the interest of the members and the health-sector more broadly which can fairly challenging and in many ways daunting.
Although it can be hard work, there are lots of benefits of being part of BCOM- I love that I get to see first hand how everything is working – where we’re fighting as a branch, where we’re growing, where we’re winning – it also helps me to reflect on my own work place and what I can do to improve things there as well.
This is a tough political climate and VHPA obviously has challenges ahead – in particular the Royal Commission. There is so much time dealing with things that happened before the current branch was operating and time that could be better spent engaging with and advocating for Members! I’m optimistic however that we’ll continue to grow and that the external challenges make it clearer that being a union member is more important than ever.
I’m really glad I joined the VHPA BCOM – it’s great to be part of the team and contribute at another level.