VAHPA Elections in 2019 – nominations open for two casual vacancies

VAHPA is a democratic community of Allied Health Professionals and there is no democracy without elections. 

Late last year, as happens from time to time, a member of the Branch Committee of Management and Delegate to National Council resigned her office. This created two casual vacancies that need to be filled by election:

  1. Ordinary Member of the Branch Committee of Management
  2. Branch Delegate to HSU National Council

For information on the timing of the elections and the process, follow the following links: Full Election Notice and Election Nomination form.

To view the rules of the HSU, click here.

What is the Branch Committee of Management?

The affairs of VAHPA are managed by the Branch Committee of Management (BCOM). This committee is made up of twelve Allied Health Professionals. Each member of the committee is elected from the membership, by the membership. There are 5 Ordinary Memberson the Committee and 7 Officers, including the President, Senior Vice President, Junior Vice President, Branch Secretary, Assistant Branch Secretary and 2 Trustees.

These workers are your chosen representatives; they protect and advance your interests professionally and industrially. This work includes overseeing your union’s finances, including how your member contributions are used, and the implementation and monitoring of our governance structures to ensure transparency, efficiency and compliance with the law. Your representatives on BCOM also manage the overall direction of VAHPA through the Secretary, Assistant Secretary and all VAHPA employees including organisers, industrial officers, finance officers and admin staff. 

It is both a privilege and a serious responsibility to sit on the Committee of Management. But no member should feel intimidated by the role. VAHPA is your union and you have every right to nominate and run for an elected position. You do not have to be an accountant, a CEO or a political expert to sit on BCOM. You just need to be an Allied Health Professional, a member of VAHPA and enthusiastic about representing your fellow Allied Health Professionals without fear or favour. 

All elected officials are provided with governance and finance training through the ACTU.

What is a Branch Delegate to National Council?

To answer this question, we need to take a bit of a step back… VAHPA is one of the eight branches that make up the Health Services Union. The branches of the HSU are all state-based and operate autonomously on almost every level, including financially, politically and industrially. The HSU by contrast is a federal body registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisation) Act 2009. It is important to note that the National Council is the supreme governing body of the entire union, including VAHPA (although this is a complex legal space). Each branch of the HSU has the right to be represented on the National Council. This representation is provided for by a delegate structure, with delegate numbers set in accordance with the size of the branch. VAHPA currently has 5 delegates on National Council. 

One of our seats on the council is currently vacant and must be filled by election. 

Why should I put my hand up?

Unions are just collections of organised workers!

One of the common misconceptions that people have about unions is that they are transactional fee-for-service organisations—I pay my union and my union provides me with a number of services. This understanding flows from years of misinformation issued by big-business through their political representatives and through their mates in the private media. And let’s be honest, plenty of unions (including ours) have made serious mistakes along the way. As a result, many workers now feel isolated from their union. In fact, many workers now see their union (their own industrial community) in the same light as they see for-profit insurance companies or banks making billions of dollars of profit a year. This shift has seriously disempowered workers, impacted detrimentally on unions and led directly to wage stagnation and massive economic inequality (look for more information on this in coming editions of the Allied Health Activist).

In reality, VAHPA is nothing more than a group of workers striving to support one-another and to build a better life. VAHPA, for instance, was constituted by a group of Allied Health Professionals in 1978 as a formal industrial organisation to replace a less formal predecessor organisation known as the Medical Ancillary Association of Victoria (MAAV)—at that time AHPs were considered to be medical ancillary workers. 

Those dedicated and forward-looking AHPs took it upon themselves to organise properly and effectively: they drafted a constitution, ran elections, sat on committees of management, provided professional, industrial and political leadership for the organisation and they funded it themselves, collectively—this is why we pay Membership Contributions and not union fees. They fought hard and they made real gains, including professional rates of pay for Allied Health Professionals, the foundation of our career structures and respectful workplace conditions. We have a lot to thank them for. 

VAHPA is our union and it should stay in the hands of Allied Health Professionals. We must be active and engaged in our union if it is to be effective—I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, VAHPA is only as effective as youare active! We must take real ownership of our union and feel real pride in the work we do together, and in the outcomes we win.

Comrades, it is time to put your hand up!

For further information on see the Rules of the HSU. Part C – Branch Organisation in the rules the provides lots of useful and important information (pp. 57 – 79)

Please take the time to read the Full Election Notice, whether you are interested in nominating for a position or not. It is a short document but an important one. 

We must take our democratic responsibilities seriously and make sure that VAHPA remains in the hands of Allied Health Professionals!

In solidarity

Craig McGregor

VAHPA Secretary