Welcome to the Change Collective.

We are young women and men committed to making Real Change.

We believe that our world can be a more just and tolerant place to live and work as human beings, through positive action and participation.

We are everyday people just like you.

We are workers.

We are students.

We are writers.

But most of all,

we believe that we can make a difference.

The Change Collective is a place to share inspiring stories about people who have made a Real Change and believe in social justice.

It is a space which will discuss workplace issues affecting young people in Australia.

It is also a space where we can discuss issues affecting young people and their place in society, both nationally and globally.

Ultimately, The Change Collective aims to encourage readers to take positive action in their workplaces and communities by being participants rather than spectators. And leaders where leaders are lacking!

For this very first post, The Change Collective is asking you the question: What Real Social Change would you like to see happen?

Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below.

If you would like to share your story and photos about Real Change, please email us at tcc@theservicesunion.com.au we would love to hear from you.

The Change Collective

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By Rita Mae Fitton, Vice President for Youth of The Services Union.

The Turnbull government will be introducing to Parliament in November (2016) legislation amending the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). These amendments to Australian law would be targeted at unauthorised maritime arrivals.


Why do we need this legislation? A blanket ban that lacks compassion, ignores the bravery of these people AND our obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the rights of the Child.

What if I also told you that resettlement of refugees is enormously expensive in comparison to settlement in Australia.

For example:

5 people seeking asylum in Australia were resettled in Cambodia by the Australian government  = the cost was 55 million dollars.

Asylum seekers being placed in Australian community whilst being processed = estimated cost $12,000 per person a year with a majority gaining employment offsetting those costs through taxation.

Under our Migration Act these people are dehumanised and labelled “unauthorised maritime arrivals”. What if I told you, you can legally seek asylum in Australia by any means necessary, that you must prove you would in danger of physical harm or freedom to gain that asylum. Not only is this legal but it is a basic human right. 90% of those seeking asylum in Australia via boat have met the definition of refugee.


There are other terms applied by the media and throughout political rhetoric which assist with the dehumanisation AND demonizing of these people:


Let’s talk about what some of these words mean:




Dehumanisation allows for politics of fear. The plight of these people should generate compassion, understanding and a targeted response that targets the problem of people smugglers, and uphold our international obligations to assist with the refugee crises.

I do not have a solution except for us to not be blind that these are PEOPLE and the labelling and misdirection of exaggerated facts and generalised statements are not fooling the Australian public.

I have put my faith in the democratically elected leaders of our country and the experts they consult to come up with solutions. I now want to put my faith in you, the reader of this article to share what these terms mean, talk about these issues and be a changemaker. #refugeecrisis

Heavy lifting by young workers linked to low back pain in midlife

BY Linda Thrasybule

From Reuters

Young adults with jobs that involve heavy lifting and forceful movements might be at higher risk for back pain later in life, a study from Finland suggests.

“When you’re young, you do things your own way, you muscle your way through it, but sooner or later, that behavior can cause problems,” said Michael Timko, a physical therapist and instructor at the University of Pittsburgh who was not involved with the study.

“If we’re going to put a dent on the back pain issue, we should consider training younger people about basic body mechanics like how to lift and load and how to sit properly,” he told Reuters Health by phone.

To examine whether heavy physical work in young adulthood increases the risk of low back pain in midlife, Tea Lallukka from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and colleagues surveyed 738 Finnish men and women in 1986, when they were between 18 and 24 years old, and again 20 years later.

The responses indicated whether participants had done heavy, medium or little to no “heavy” physical work as young adults and whether, in middle age, they’d had localized or radiating low back pain lasting more than seven days during the previous year.

Overall, at the second survey, up to 36 percent of men and women reported localized lower back pain, and about 20 percent reported radiating lower back pain.

Heavy physical work was not significantly linked to localized low back pain.

But the likelihood of radiating back pain in middle age more than doubled for men who reported heavy physical work as young adults, compared to men whose jobs had involved little to no physical work, the research team reported in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, August 11.

And for women, the risk of radiating low back pain 20 years later was doubled in those who reported at least medium physical work and quadrupled in those who had done heavy work, compared to those who did little to no physical work.

About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed workdays.

“Younger people should be aware that physical work could have long lasting adverse consequences,” Lallukka told Reuters Health.

“But employers should also consider the potential risks involved, when they place young people in jobs that require repetitive movements, heavy workload and difficult positions,” she said.

Timko advises people with physically demanding jobs to maintain physical fitness outside the workplace.

“Think of an athlete, they have a training regimen so when it’s time to perform, they’re ready to perform,” Timko said.

“The same should be applied when you have a physically demanding job–people should see themselves as occupational athletes.”


He named me Malala – a film about Malala Yousafzai.


By Rita Mae Fitton, Vice President for Youth of The Services Union

On the 3rd of March I attended a screening of “He Called Me Malala.” This movie and this woman is inspiring, powerful and endearing. The screening was held at the charming New Farm Cinema and was hosted by Women’s Legal Service.

I believe that it is easy to get lost in the plethora of information surrounding Malala Yousafzai, so here is a nice quick summary.

Malala animation.jpg


Malala’s life in chronological order:

2008 – Malala gives her first speech in Peshawar called “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education.”

2009 – Malala uses the pseudonym Gul Makai to report via a blog with the BBC on the violence and politics in SWAT Valley (her hometown).

October 9 2012 – the Taliban attempts to murder Malala on a school bus. Malala is shot in the head and 2 of her friends are wounded. Malala is 15 years old.


July 12 2013 – Malala addresses the United Nations General Assembly about the importance of free universal education. “terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born … I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.”

2013 – Malala is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

December 10 2014 – Malala wins the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Kailash Katyarthi for their activism to stop the suppression of children and for the right of all children to an education.

2014 – Malala starts the Malala Fund. This Fund supports educating girls in Pakistan, Northern Nigeria, Lebanon, Jordan and Kenya. The Fund also provides ways of raising awareness for Malala’s story and the other stories of young women from the vulnerable communities in the world.

2015 – the film and book “He Named Me Malala” is released and published.

If you haven’t gone and seen this film, watch this space as our Youth Committee may host a screening to support Malala’s message and stand #withmalala: www.malala.org.au

People Power Gains Momentum for Refugees

By Hrisoula Muche (Member of The Services Union’s Youth Committee)

I work as a social worker at a domestic violence and sexual assault support service in Brisbane. In recent months we have received a number of referrals for refugee women who have experienced sexual assault in off-shore Australian run detention facilities. For our service providing counseling to these women has brought the issue of safety in off-shore detention directly to our doorsteps.

For anyone in Brisbane who had the chance to attend the February rolling rally/protest at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH) you will know what an optimistic and powerful coming together this was for supporters of humane refugee policies in Brisbane.

If you weren’t able to make it along, all is not lost. You can always attend the next solidarity event:

Palm Sunday Rally to ‘Stop the War on Refugees’

Sunday 20th March

1pm Queens Park (Corner of Elizabeth and George Streets, Brisbane)

In mid-February 2016, health professionals at LCCH refused to discharge a baby girl known as ‘Baby Asha’ from the hospital due to concerns about her safety and well being if she was returned to the off-shore detention facility on Nauru where she and her parents (Christian, Nepalese Asylum Seekers) had been living for the past several months. Baby Asha and her family were originally flown to Australia for medical treatment after she sustained a burn injury in the Nauru detention facility. After providing treatment LCCH staff reportedly became concerned that the detention facility on Nauru would not be a “safe or suitable” environment for an infant to return to. Similar criticisms made by health professionals across the country focus on how the taxpayer funded off-shore detention facilities are not safe environments for children or their families.

Over the next week and a half hundreds of concerned community members turned out to be a part of the rolling protest outside the hospital. Many protesters bunkered down over night and maintained a constant presence outside the hospital waving signs, gathering for speeches and discussions. This culminated on Saturday, 22 February when dozens of protesters gathered at the exits of the hospital ready to make peaceful blockades as word spread from inside the hospital that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was planning to attempt to remove Baby Asha and her mother.

The protest attracted hundreds of concerned community members including: teachers, school and university students, refugee advocates and activists, representatives of the trade unions, social workers, teachers, lawyers, health professionals, first nation representatives, local politicians and many other every day Australians. All came together to show their support for courageous actions of the LCCH staff and to protest against the Federal Government’s off-shore processing policies for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.
My partner and I attended the rolling protest over three days and were heartened and uplifted to see the outpouring of support from the hundreds of people who attended and maintained the rally. Some highlights were seeing protesters peacefully stand at exits of the hospital when word came from sources within the hospital that the family may be moved ready to engage in peaceful, non-violent blocking of roads to stop Baby Asha and her family from being removed against their will and the advice of health professionals.

On Saturday, 22 February during a candle light vigil outside the hospital hundreds of pizza’s were delivered to the protest from people all around Australia with accompanying messages of solidarity. There were so many pizza’s that an extra hundred pizzas were sent to local homeless shelters around Brisbane – a win-win-win! There was also a strong connection with the recent #LetThemStay movement with people taking photos of themselves, hanging banners and joining the calls of many notable Australian persons including comedians Tom Ballard and Will Anderson for an end to off-shore detention and for the 267 Asylum seekers currently in Australia facing deportation to Nauru or Manus Island, to be allowed to settle here.

Although I was only able to attend on three occasions, it felt special to be a part of a movement of community members opposed to current off-shore processing policies.

It filled me with hope and optimism that change for refugees is possible, although, sadly, the response of the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton was not as positive, with the final outcome being that Baby Asha and her family could again be removed from Australia at any time.

I do however take heart that this protest and the brave actions of hospital staff had an impact on the Department of Immigration’s decision making and brought together hundreds of Australians to speak out against our current policies.

Our Australian run detention facilities and off-shore processing program has received repeated widespread international condemnation including at the November 2015 United Nations Human Rights Forum in which several countries including: “Brazil, Turkey, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Bangladesh – even Rwanda, Iran and North Korea” expressed concern over Australia’s treatment of refugees” (Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November, 2015). In addition numerous prominent Australian health professionals and professional bodies such as the president of the Australian Association of Social Workers and Brian Owler President of the Australian Medical Association have released official statements condemning the conditions of off-shore detention facilities and calling for their closure. One prominent Australian doctor Professor David Isaacs stated “”Long-term immigration detention causes major mental health problems, is illegal in international law and arguably fits the recognised definition of torture” (ABC News, 26 January 2016).

I share the concerns of numerous health care professionals including President of the Australian Association of Social Workers Professor, Karen Healy who has spoken out against detention facilities as ‘unsafe’ and stated ‘it is time for the Prime Minister to make the right decision to keep these children safe, and that is to keep them and their families in Australia and provide them with the support they need to reduce the impact of trauma in their lives” (AASW, Media Release, 22/02/2016).

In the spirit of the protests in Brisbane and around Australia it is time for Australia to clean up our act when it comes to refugees.

Australian refugee acceptance quotas are some of the lowest when compared to our wealth and stability in the developed world, our off-shore detention policies are unparalleled for their violation of the human rights of asylum seekers and for their disregard for international human rights and refugee law. The current federal government has sought to validate their off-shore detention program by citing an agenda to ‘stop vile people smugglers’. I truly hope that to logical Australians this argument falls far short of any sort of a justification for the conditions in our off shore detention facilities.

As some commentators have pointed out a set of policy measures designed to ‘deter’ new refugee arrivals by punishing and causing harm to present refugees is as illogical and cruel as harming one child to ‘teach a lesson’ to another. It is unjustifiable – political action groups such as Labour for Refugees and parties such as the Greens have proposed comprehensive, alternatives to off-shore processing including regional processing centres and increasing our humanitarian intake of refugees which provide a humane response to the global issue of refugees.

Australia can and should play a leading role in assisting some of the worlds most vulnerable people and the time has come to end our shameful approach to refugees.
As the protest at the hospital and the outpouring of support and courage from around Australia has shown though there is hope! So many voices are combining to condemn our current policies and demand change. One core flute read: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I urge you to think about your own views towards refugees and asylum seekers and stand with everyone asking for a more positive approach to refugees. Now more than ever with so many voices combined baby Asha, her family and all of the other families and individuals in off-shore detention need our support and courage. They need us to stand with them and demand of our government: not in my name, not in this country, we will not accept the treatment of our fellow human beings just as we would hope that were positions reversed no one would accept for us to be treated in this way.

Stand with the #LetThemStay/CloseTheCampsMovement and together we will achieve change for refugees in Australia.

Since the LCCH protest there have been a multitude of other protest events in Brisbane to raise awareness about asylum seekers, church training on how to non-violently protect refugees facing deportation and calling for a close to the camps the next big rally is taking place this Sunday in Queens Park, Brisbane City.


Palm Sunday Rally to ‘Stop the War on Refugees’

Sunday 20th March

1pm Queens Park (Corner of Elizabeth and George Streets, Brisbane)

For more details head to the Refugee Action Collective’s website:


Together we can put an end to off-shore processing and begin the dawn of a new era in Australians history.


I really hope to see you there!




AASW Media Release. (23 February 2016).
Returning baby Asha to Nauru is government sanctioned child abuse: AASW. https://www.aasw.asn.au/news-media/media-releases-2016/returning-baby-asha-to-nauru-is-government-sanctioned-child-abuse-aasw

Miller, N. (10, November, 2015). UN human rights review: Countries line up to criticise Australia for its treatment of asylum seekers. Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/un-human-rights-review-countries-line-up-to-criticise-australia-for-its-treatment-of-asylum-seekers-20151109-gkusj4.html

Scott, S and Robinson, N. (26, January, 2016). Leading Australian doctor challenges Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten over ‘torture-like conditions’ at detention centres. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-26/doctor-challenges-pm-over-immigration-detention-centres/7113966



Call for fair tax has cards stacked against it



160128-fairtax-deal-cards-are-stacked-against-us-800pxwBy The ASU

Ordinary people are just looking for a fair tax deal but when we read in the papers about bodies like “The Board of Taxation” which allegedly represents our “broader community perspective”, as well as business, it just adds insult to injury. The Federal Government’s little known tax advisory body is out there speaking on our behalf to legislators but did you even know they existed? CONTINUE READING

Youth Unemployment: A perspective from a recent job seeker

By Aaron Santelises


Graduating from a course is something to be celebrated not feared. All the hard work and study a person has done through the months and years is finally paying dividends. Completing study often leads to a certification that will hopefully provide graduates with a job, a career and a great future. The same sense of achievement can be applied to a young person receiving a full time position that does not require formal qualifications but provides them through on the job training such as commencing a trade or apprenticeship. Ultimately, whether it’s tertiary studies, a trade or other pathways to employment, every year tens of thousands of young Australians commence their journey towards meaningful employment and to fulfill their adult life.


I have experienced the sense of elation myself when graduating from university but I have also experienced the harsh reality of finding employment in a highly competitive market for graduates. Someone once told me that before our generation it was as simple as applying for a position on the jobs notice board, which led to an interview and the next day a position was offered. I find myself wondering those were the days. Needless to say, it has become a lot harder since those days, particularly due to an ever-increasing amount of graduates from university and the economic pressure causing older generations to stay at work.


The statistics are alarming. Our national youth unemployment rate is 12.23%, compared to the overall average national rate of 5.9%. This means there are twice as many young people looking for work and the affects can be alarming. Youth could be potentially denied opportunities to enable them to grow. As mentioned earlier, there are various reasons why youth unemployment has been on the rise compared to the overall national average. However, there can be moves to alleviate the problem such as government intervention.


The government cannot solve the problem of youth unemployment on its own, but they can alleviate the pressure and provide the needed support that government can perform. Federally and state there should be Youth Ministers focused on the interests of youth such as youth unemployment. The government can implement schemes that provide job seekers with skills on how to apply for a graduate position during and after university such as developing resumes and other training for finding a suitable job. Companies both large and small could be incentivised to hire young individuals.


Youth Unemployment is an important issue because its impact on the community and the economy. It can affect the young person’s contribution to the community and create uncertainty for our economic prospects and future. Furthermore, the longer a young person is unemployed the greater the amount of resources required to transition them into employment. There must be new ideas and schemes to solve the issue of youth unemployment and to increase participation to create productive members of our community In order to maintain our standards of living and our innovative economy, getting young people into employment should be a top priority for any government or business in Australia.








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