It has been a long road for the AUWU to get a seat at the table with the federal Dept of Jobs to represent unemployed workers. For unemployed workers, this meeting was a watershed which, along with the jobactive and ParentsNext Senate Inquiries, means that our voices are finally being heard.
This joint meeting was convened because AUWU President Owen Bennett had asked for the opportunity to discuss ways to distribute AUWU Rights Guides. This need arose because the AUWU runs a hotline staffed by volunteers who help others navigate and negotiate employment services and social security requirements. The Rights Guide has been a fantastic resource for unemployed workers, and it has been no easy task to maintain it, keep it up to date and distribute it.
This meeting is the beginning of dialogue with Dept of Jobs about the ways unemployed workers can access clear information about rights and responsibilities in forms that are more accessible and empowering than existing official channels. We have also asked for advance warning of policy so that we know about changes that affect the rights and responsibilities of unemployed workers before they take effect. Over the longer term the Union hopes to progress discussion on making Union volunteering an Approved Activity for the AAR.
There is a big difference between being heard and listened to. To this end we will maintain respectful engagement with Dept of Jobs to progress better outcomes for unemployed workers.