After a stint juggling several concurrent part-time/casual/labour-hire jobs to pay her rent and put food on the table, Melanie was very glad to be successful in gaining full-time employment in the City of Hobart Bushland Unit in late 2012.

Until recent weeks, she was the youngest employee at her work depot, and is proud to be part of a new generation of positive and progressive municipal workers.

Within the Bushland Unit, Melanie works on-ground as part of the Fire & Biodiversity Program.

There are 7 staff in on-ground operations looking after 4600ha of bushland reserves. The Unit’s main roles include environmental weed control, maintaining and improving biodiversity values, planning and undertaking bushfire hazard reduction burns, and implementing and maintaining bushfire fuel breaks across the municipality.

Melanie is currently the only female employee at her work depot, and am one of only two female ‘outdoor’ workers in the entire council. This is an interesting statistic in a council of around 700 employees, approximately 300 of which are ‘outdoor’ workers.

With her strong connection to the values of the union movement, Melanie will gladly stand up for and assist colleagues to make sure there is fairness, equity and due-process.

For the first time, Melanie is representing colleagues at the negotiating table as part of the current enterprise agreement negotiations, an experience she describes as interesting to say the least.

Along with the rest of the ASU delegate negotiating team, Melanie is attempting to include more progressive values into the Enterprise Agreement, particularly those that go part-way to assisting gender equity issues.

This includes requests to increase the amount of Family Violence Leave coupled with a cash advance, and increase Parental Leave for the “secondary carer” to ensure mothers are able to get back to their careers sooner and fathers/secondary carers also get to care for and bond with their young children for a meaningful period.

The experience of attending Delegate training in Hobart, conducted by ASU Training Officer Miriam Gillis, was valued by Melanie as a great learning opportunity that included some interesting discussions.

Melanie vales the willingness of local ASU Organiser Karen Tantari and Lead Organiser Kath Ryman to share their knowledge and experience and is I looking forward to learning from ASU staff and increasing her knowledge, skills and experience, because she loves spreading the “good news” of the union!

Earlier this year Melanie was elected as a delegate to the ASU’s Branch Conference and will be attending her first conference later this year with much anticipation.

Thank you Melanie for all the work you do for your colleagues at Hobart City Council.

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