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Home > News > Member’s commitment to union honoured in NAIDOC award

Member’s commitment to union honoured in NAIDOC award

NAIDOC_good.jpgActive member and Indigenous Support Officer at St James College Brisbane, Thersa Nunn, has been awarded the Dr Robert (Uncle Bob) Anderson Award for her hard work and ongoing support to union activities. 

Not only has she been a regular participant at meetings and events, she has also pledged her ongoing support behind industrial and professional campaigns over the years.

Photo (L to R): Valda Graham, Thersa Nunn, Leeanne Enoch MP & Suzi Wharton

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke affirms Thersa’s long-standing commitment to our union deserves recognition in the form of the Dr Robert (Uncle Bob) Anderson award.   

“Thersa’s presence as an active, vocal union member carries tremendous weight with Indigenous educators and school officers within southeast Queensland,” he said.

“She has earned the respect of her peers primarily through the quality of her work as Indigenous Support Officer at St James College as well as the quality of support and care she provides to Indigenous students with that role is widely appreciated within the community.

“This is what makes her voice, as a union member, so influential.”

Thersa said she was humbled to receive the accolade.

“I had flowers given to me by Terry Burke at the session we had the other day,” she said.

“I was so surprised and very honoured to receive this award. Uncle Bob often goes to St James and talks to the students. I consider him one of my mob.

“The future looks good because to me our union is a mob and that’s what Aboriginal people are looking for, that connection,” she said. 

“I think that’s what makes Aboriginal people strong, is the connection and union definitely makes a connection not just of Aboriginal people but for all people.”

Thersa said she became a union member back in the late 1970s and it was not always a good experience back then. 

“Being an Aboriginal woman we had to fight for everything in those days; even for the right pay and the equal right just to go to the pub and drink in the public bar. But with a strong voice we didn’t give up – the women won.”

“I tell students to never take for an answer in the face of prejudice and that we don’t need a hand out but a hand up, and that’s just what our union has done for me.”

What is the Doctor Robert (Uncle Bob) Anderson Award?

The Award is given to members who demonstrate exceptional abilities that are walking a similar path to Uncle Bob. The award sheds light on Uncle Bob’s tireless work in maintaining and promoting reconciliation. 

Considering his history in the Trade Union Movement, is was only fitting that QCU has chosen to name the individual member’s award after Uncle Bob. He was the first Indigenous Australian to work as the State Organiser for the Building Workers Industrial Union, later amalgamated with other unions into the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) from 1963 to 1978.

He took an active role in many industrial disputes including the Mount Isa Copper Mine Lock-Out 1964-65, mines in Papua New Guinea in the late 1960s, and the controversial South African Springboks rugby tour in 1971. He is well known for, and continues, to strive for the rights and protection of workers, Australia’s First Nations people and general social justice for all.


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.