ASU Member: Angela Bell
Bell, ASU member, consultant and not-for-profit interim CEO
Bell has long had an interest in joining a Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA study
tour, wanting to experience workforces and industries that were different to those
she was touring Timor Leste – an island country only 21 years into its
independence –meeting with union leaders, women and farmers who are
organising for change, it instead made her contemplate the similarities.
think about all the different rights we are trying to get for women in the
workplace now and look at it there and they are trying to achieve it for the
first time at that very fundamental grassroots stage,” she says.
Australia we are at a different stage, but we are all still fighting to make
things better – the right to work free from sexual harassment, the right to be
paid a minimum wage and not be undercut, and the right to have a contract
way it was all incredibly similar, and you can’t take any of that for granted.”
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA took 12 members, including Ms
Bell, to visit its projects in Timor Leste for a week in August.
45-year-old had first learnt about APHEDA through her job at the Australian
Services Union, where she previously worked in media and communications and
joined as a member in 2008.
works as a consultant with a focus on the community sector and is currently an
interim CEO for a not-for-profit organisation, but she has remained an ASU
member and monthly donor to APHEDA for the past 15 years.
Timor Leste, she was led by Elisabeth Lino de Araujo, a former journalist,
human rights defender and activist who has worked as APHEDA’s Country
Manager for 18 years.
the work she is doing over there through APHEDA – the connections she has to
the farmers, the women workers, union leaders and politicians – to advocate for
workers is really impressive,” Ms Bell says.
about really practical support to help workers. You obviously want to support
things at home, and locally, but I’ve also always valued contribution
The group met with women from the Working Women’s Centre
– who recently successfully campaigned to establish a national minimum wage for
domestic workers – and visited farmers on projects outside Dili, who are
organising themselves into unions to address an insecure food system, climate
change and high importing costs.
They also met with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao at Government
Palace, who paid tribute to the union movement and their support for Timor
about some of the challenges they’ve got in the economy there, it’s a feeling
of living history. It’s trying to find its feet and its people are trying to
set it up for economic prosperity,” Ms Bell says.
great to see local people being supported to drive that change.”
returning to Melbourne, Ms Bell is motivated to continue supporting fellow
workers abroad and joining campaigns such as plans to
sell Timor Leste coffee to Australians for a fair price.
really recommend looking into the work APHEDA does. It’s a great other part of
the union movement to contribute to,” she says.
For more information about Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) visit: https://www.apheda.org.au/