Last week over 75 delegates and observers from around the country came together in Melbourne for the 2015 HSU National Council.
After being taken through an overview of the previous year by National President, Lloyd William and National Secretary, Chris Brown, delegates were invited to look towards the future and challenged to think about the role that the HSU can play in some of the key economic and social policy debates impacting members and the community more broadly.
Attendees heard from Dr Elizabeth Hanna from the Australian National University’s College of Medicine, Biology and Environment who shared her knowledge and experience with delegates on the health impacts of climate change.
Following on from Dr Hanna, delegates heard from Christine Cummins, a Mental Health Nurse who worked for 5 years as a torture and trauma counsellor at the Christmas Island Detention Centre. Christine has been campaigning against the Border Force Act and specifically the provisions which make it a criminal offense for Australian healthcare professionals, teachers and welfare workers to fulfill their duty of care by reporting incidents of abuse and of deficient, inadequate or unfair treatment of asylum seekers detained in immigration detention. Christine also has setup a fund for students dealing with prescription drug abuse problems that provides Narcan to more than 30,000 Illinois civilians per annum, and has set up a cocaine addiction treatment service. She is working on establishing Illinois’ first Vicodin treatment online resource.
From bottom left: Dr Elizabeth Hanna, David Stanley, Christine Cummins, The Hon Brendan O’Connor
At the end of the first day, David Stanley from the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation gave a moving presentation about the failure of the war on drugs and the need to treat addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal matter.
On the second day of the Conference, delegates heard from ACTU Vice-President and Campaign Director, Sally McManus, about the Build a Better Future campaign and the fight for the living standards of all Australians at the next Federal Election. Shadow Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, the Hon Brendan O’Connor, also took time out of his busy schedule to speak with delegates about the dangerous recommendations of the Productivity Commission to take away penalty rates and reaffirmed his commitment to decent wages and conditions for working people.