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Home > News > 2016 > October > Member awarded for advancing women’s working rights

Member awarded for advancing women’s working rights

Topics : AwardsEquityThe Good & The Bad

Donna_Spillane.jpgDonna Spillane from Marist College Ashgrove has received a prestigious award in recognition of her achievements as an advocate for women’s rights in the workplace, following the annual Emma Miller Awards.

Donna, who has been a teacher for more than 30 years, received the award at a ceremony held in Brisbane on Friday night, 14 October, where she was described as a role model for all young women entering the teaching profession.

Branch Secretary Terry Burke said our union nominated Donna for the award due to her deep commitment to the pursuit of social justice.

“Donna regularly supports colleagues in the workplace who are vulnerable and in need of advice or support. A dedicated unionist, she passionately speaks up for those who find it difficult to do so and ensures her workplace is a place of dignity,” Mr Burke said.

“Donna is a respected mentor at her school; she encourages and develops young women teachers to take leading roles within their union and in their workplace more broadly.”

Donna said it was important to establish good relationships with beginning educators to help them better understand the role they play in education.

“I look back on my own early years as a teacher and I know the role and value of robust and authentic mentoring for my own teaching vocation,” she said.

She said it was also vital that beginning teachers understand the role they can play within our union, particularly finding their “collective voice” in future collective bargaining negotiations.

“I truly believe that fostering positive relationships with beginning teachers allows them to truly appreciate the legacy of the conditions that they have the privilege to enjoy. These conditions were fought for over many decades in Queensland by people just like them.” 

The namesake of the awards, Emma Miller was herself a trailblazer and tireless advocate for the rights of women. She was a pioneer trade union organiser, suffragist and fundamental player in the formation of the Australian Labor Party in Brisbane.
 
Emma Miller famously used her hat pin to strike out at the police commissioner and his horse as the police sought to disrupt a protest she and other women unionists were holding during the Brisbane General Strike of 1912.
 
Aged in her 70s at the time, Emma had been leading a contingent of women to Parliament House when they were charged by policemen with batons. Emma’s actions to defend the women caused the police commissioner’s horse to throw him to the ground.
 
Appropriately, recipients of the Emma Miller Award receive their very own hat pin.
 
A statue of Emma Miller can be found in Brisbane’s King George Square; Emma also gives her name to Emma Miller Place, located on Roma Street.
 
The annual Emma Miller Awards are hosted by the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU), with recipients nominated by their respective Queensland unions.

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