SSTUWA scholarship program

The SSTUWA scholarship program is designed to support the key objectives of the SSTUWA strategic plan:

  • Protecting and improving our industrial and professional rights
  • Promoting high quality public education for all
  • Ensuring the current and long term interests of our members are at the centre of everything we do

The SSTUWA scholarship program will provide opportunity for members, on an annual basis, to make application for financial support to undertake professional learning opportunities of an industrial and/or professional nature.

In addition to the personal growth achieved in undertaking the identified and approved activity, the successful applicant will contribute back to the broader membership.

The method of contribution back to the broader membership will be negotiated as part of the acceptance of the scholarship and may include:

  • Research and access of results for SSTUWA use.
  • Presentations of learnings to Executive, State Council, a policy group or other.
  • Engagement in provision of professional development opportunities to members through ETC, Women’s Conference or other relevant forums.
  • Assistance in the development of SSTUWA policy.
  • Representation on behalf of the SSTUWA on various working groups and the like. Preparation of articles for the Western Teacher or other union communications.
  • Other methods, as determined by Executive.

A pool of $10,000 per annum is available to support the SSTUWA scholarship program. The availability of the scholarships will be advertised in the Term Four preceding the year in which the scholarships are available. The scholarship is to be advertised in the Western Teacher and on the union website. Applicants will have one month from the date of advertising of the SSTUWA scholarship program to submit an application on the pro-forma. Decisions of the selection committee will be final.

Key aspects of the criteria for judging applications to include:

  • Union membership.
  • History of engagement in the union.
  • Relevance of the proposed activity to the objectives of the SSTUWA.
  • Preparedness of the applicant to contribute to the broader membership.

A sub-committee of Executive will be established to consider the applications. This sub-committee is to consist of one senior officer and two ordinary Executive members. The term of office for the sub-committee is to be for a period of two years.

The sub-committee may determine the allocation of amounts to the successful applicants, including part or all costs and the number of scholarships offered in any one year.

The successful applicants, prior to final offer and acceptance of the scholarship, will enter into an agreement with the SSTUWA as to the means by which they will contribute to the broader membership post completion of the activity they are being supported to engage in through the scholarship. The contribution to the broader membership is to occur no less than 12 months after engagement in the designated activity.

Click here for an application form

Anna Stewart Memorial Project

Each year the Anna Stewart Memorial Project is coordinated by UnionsWA. The first project was held in Victoria in 1984 and in Western Australia in 1986.

Over the week. participants see how unions are organised, become involved in current union issues and campaigns and visit workplaces.

The emphasis is on practical experiences - seeing the union in action rather than reading or hearing about it in theory.

A general plan of activity is mapped out in advance with the union and usually includes:

  • Two days formal training provided by UnionsWA.
  • Meeting members and working with organisers.
  • Attending meetings with other unions, women members, branch councils, work-site meetings and UnionsWA Executive and Council meetings.
  • Attending hearings in the Industrial Relations Commission.
  • Working with other union officials such as industrial and research officers.
  • Seeing how the union is organised and administered.
  • Undertaking a small but specific project for the union.
  • The opportunity to meet other participants, discuss their experiences and learn more about the issues confronting women in the workplace.

  • All women unionists are eligible to participate in the project.

    To apply, download the application form here.
    Note: The interactive PDF may be submitted online using Internet Explorer. If using another browser, the form must be downloaded and printed.

    Anna Stewart Biography

    Anna Stewart worked passionately and tirelessly to involve women directly in deciding on principles and priorities to put before unions and government in order to achieve real quality of status and opportunity for women.

    Her efforts achieved more in less than a decade working in the union movements than most of us will in a lifetime. Anna's work encapsulated her remarkable vision of women's lives - as they were - as she hoped they would be. Her commitment was expressed through all possible channels but particularly through the political and industrial wings of the labour movement.

    Anna entered the industrial arena at a time when women workers made up a third of the paid workforce but the few industries in which they were employed, were almost invariably at the unskilled and semi-skilled level. Women were poorly paid, lacked job security and job satisfaction and rarely had access to promotional opportunities. Anna developed a radical re- evaluation of the rights of female labour within the economy which led to a fundamental reappraisal of these issues throughout the labour movement.

    In 1974, the Federated Furnishing Trades Society of Australasia was looking for an "out of work journalist" to investigate and write a report on the effects of tariff charges on furniture imports. Anna, pregnant at the time, was employed by the union.

    The report completed, Anna secured a full-time position as research officer with that union. She immediately set about preparing a work value case for argument before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. That too, was successful.

    In the midst of preparing for this case, she spared no time in commencing negotiations with employers for the inclusion of maternity leave conditions into awards. Anna herself was very obviously pregnant with her child at the time.

    For many years, the issues of equal pay, maternity leave and childcare had been ignored.

    Anna's persuasiveness and commitment secured the employers' consent to maternity leave provisions becoming award conditions thereby averting the necessity for full-scale argument and justification by the union before the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. When it finally went before the Commission for the official stamp of approval, all the parties were in total agreement. An incredible achievement - the first blue-collar union to achieve maternity leave provisions for its female members.

    Anna continued to articulate issues rationally and forcefully, winning respect and admiration from those for whom she worked as well as her opposition.

    When her youngest child was born he accompanied Anna on the job, out into the field gathering evidence and into the Commission to finally put submissions. She accommodated the needs of her young son either by breast-feeding in the Commission or by seeking an adjournment of proceedings.

    Anna set a precedent for many women who gained strength and confidence from her example of combining motherhood with a career. The Arbitration Commission, the union and employers all were sensitised directly to the needs of working mothers, particularly in relation to childcare.

    Both personally and industrially Anna made demands upon the social system and forced the work environment to accommodate the rights and needs of working women and their children. Her success in having those demands met offered hope and inspiration to all women who in the quest for personal survival, usually attempt to adjust themselves to the requirements of a social system which simultaneously demands cheap, female labour whilst conferring on women, sole responsibility for childcare.

    In 1975 Anna took up the position of Federal Research Officer with the Vehicle Builders Employees' Federation of Australia (VBEF). In this position she continued her role as an advocate and her efforts to improve "the lot" faced by women workers.

    A visit to the United States of America in that year strengthened Anna's resolve to achieve change for women in Australia. She returned stimulated and enthusiastic about the strength and impact of the women's movement in the United States.

    At the VBEF, Anna fought with an unmatched tenacity for the provision of childcare facilities in car plants, securing a consensus decision from union delegates to this effect. Anna headed a campaign by the union to drag sexual harassment into the light of day, condemning it as another facet of women's exploitation and convincing employers that the issue was an industrial one and needed to be dealt with, immediately, through industrial channels.

    As a result of her initiative all sexist language then existing in the awards was removed. Whilst at the VBEF she also worked and assisted on the ACTU Maternity Leave case. The case was presented to the public, especially to women workers, so successfully that the following twelve months witnessed a remarkable increase in the female membership of the unions. Anna headed the Media Liaison Committee and ensured that her former press colleagues gave good coverage of what was being achieved.

    At its Congress in 1977, the ACTU adopted the Working Women's Charter and set up the first Women's Committee of the ACTU. Anna was one of the founding members of that Committee - one of the four women chosen to be its nucleus, and remained an active force in that Committee working for the implementation of the Charter. Only a couple of weeks before her death she successfully argued the future program of the ACTU Women's Committee before the AM Executive.

    In 1980, after five years with the VBEF, Anna became a Senior Federal Industrial Officer with the Municipal Officers' Association (MOA) and in 1981 was thrown head first into a dispute with the Electricity Trust of South Australia over wages. Her resolve obtained a pre-Christmas salary increase by out-manoeuvring an employer strategy which would have been to the detriment of MOA members.

    At the MOA Anna initiated the establishment of Women's Committees in most State Branches. She developed a strong sexual harassment policy and laid the ground work for the development in industrial agreements and award conditions relating to sexual harassment. She also developed an affirmative action policy which the MOA adopted after her death, ensuring increased active participation by women in the union. This policy, calling for 25% of elected representatives to be women, was passed overwhelmingly at the 1983 MOA Federal Council.

    Women trade union officials themselves are susceptible to sexual harassment from employer representatives who stand to gain a tactical advantage if they can humiliate and degrade their industrial opponents. Anna was adept at dealing with such situations. Soon after her arrival at the MOA, in the course of negotiations with a group of South Australian employers she was taken to lunch at a "topless" restaurant. Anna coolly ignored their sexist pranks and retaliated by out-manoeuvring them in negotiations which resulted in large salary increases for MOA members.

    Anna secured remarkable gains, particularly for working women, directly for the members for whom she worked and indirectly for all women by setting precedents in a number of areas and by her own personal example. The influence of Anna's life and work remains immeasurable. She brought hope and support to women throughout the trade union movement, providing them with the strength and confidence to continue the fight.

    Lynette Virgona Scholarship


    The Lynette Virgona Scholarship has been established by the SSTUWA in memory of Lynette Virgona who died of cancer in 2013 while serving as an Executive member of the SSTUWA and a Branch Councillor of the AEU(WA) Branch.

    As well as serving at Executive level, Lynette was a representative at branch level, District Council, State Council and on SSTUWA committees.

    Lynette was trained as a Teacher Consultant under the Behaviour Management and Discipline (BMAD) project which morphed into the CMS Program. This project evolved as an initiative between the department and the union and has been covered in Agreements since its inception. It has delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars to public schools in WA to provide training and PD, resources, programs, extra teachers and the Teacher Consultants focused on supporting teachers to manage students’ engagement in the classroom and countering behavioural issues.

    Lynnette also played a role in taking the strategies in this program to other states. We have recently heard that the South Australian Education Department is to join with the AEU SA to introduce a trial of this strategy. Lynette’s work with our SA colleagues has been pivotal in this outcome.


    The annual scholarship of $1,500 will be available to assist a member of the SSTUWA to take up training or professional development opportunities to develop their own skills and abilities in the areas of student behaviour and/or instructional strategies.


    The scholarship will be open for nominations in Term 3 of each school year and will be formally awarded as part of the November State Council in that year.

    The scholarship is valid for 12 months from the November State Council. From time to time an extension of the timeline may be granted at the discretion of the president of the SSTUWA, but must be reported to the Executive.

    Applicants will be required to provide a report to Executive on the training/professional development and be available to undertake some form of promotional action for the SSTUWA, this to be negotiated through the president at the time of acceptance of the scholarship. The options for this follow up may change from time to time.

    The scholarship funds will be paid at the time at which payment for the training/professional development is being arranged. Funds may be used to cover the costs of the course and/or travel and accommodation and/or teacher relief.

    Promotional Requirements


    1. Report to SSTUWA Executive at end of project

    2. Be interviewed for the union’s publications

    One option required:

    (a) Presentation on the training/PD and its application to a conference or forum workshop

    (b) Provision of information on the training/PD for member use on the SSTUWA website

    (c) Propose and complete an alternative union approved activity.

    Download an application form here.

    Applications may be posted, emailed or delivered to:

    SSTUWA Lynette Virgona Scholarship
    State School Teachers’ Union of WA
    PO Box 212, West Perth WA 6872
    1 West Street, West Perth WA 6005

    Lynette Virgona Obituary

    By Anne Gisborne

    After a brave and courageous fight against cancer, Executive member Lynette Virgona slipped away on International Women’s Day 2013. Sadly, a more than 10 month pursuit of solutions which required dipping into deep wells of strength, and yet with such grace, was not to be successful.

    A hugely principled and passionate woman she was able to articulate her points in a manner that focussed on the issue not the individual. Lynette had an ability to pursue the right path even when under attack and bring people with her, sometimes at personal cost.

    Lynette was a highly politically aware woman, with a keen interest in politics and the debate, the seeds sown in her childhood home. I recall visiting her one week before she died where we spent some time reflecting on the upcoming state and federal elections and arrangements for her to have a postal vote.

    She was a very persistent person who would advocate strongly, regrouping and starting again if necessary, to achieve the right outcomes.

    Her continued belief in CMS and what it could offer schools, kids, teachers, school leaders and indeed our public schools system if the Department could/would only step up to the plate and support its systemic implementation kept Lynnette providing advice and running PD late into her illness. Lynette worked to the end to keep the seeds growing and will be sadly missed by her work colleagues and the hundreds she helped along the way. Their brief is to keep cultivating this work.

    A woman of wisdom, always keen to explore issues of education and other social matters, with a strong belief in the ability to influence change and a readiness to work and make positive change happen. Her ability to clearly articulate the issue, the vision was amazing. We will sorely miss this discourse.

    In her short life, Lynette has left many legacies which she can be truly proud of. Her children, bright young things who will carry the intellect, breathe and spirit of Lynette forward, her husband Nick who has recently followed Lynette into her chosen profession, her work in the BMAD, later to be renamed CMS, which has touched thousands of us in WA public schools building staff confidence and capacity and assisting students to effectively engage. Her generous outreach to colleagues in the eastern states supporting the developments of similar initiatives and what wonderful news she heard from AEUSA trainer Lynne Hall that she had been asked to develop a joint Department-Union proposal to introduce CMS into SA. Her readiness to step beyond the words and give herself through service to the State Council, Executive, WACOT and her measured but persistent style in pursuing what was right.

    A tragic loss on many fronts but a blessing that it was a life shared with us.

    We extend our sincere condolences to Lynette’s family.

    Rosemary Richards Scholarship

    Call for 2019 nominations for the Rosemary Richards Scholarship

    Rosemary Richards was a proud feminist, unionist and educator. A trailblazing leader, she was committed to advancing gender equality across the AEU.

    In her memory, the Rosemary Richards Scholarship continues her legacy by building the capacity of women as activist and leaders.

    This is an opportunity for an AEU woman member with an idea for an innovative project, research or study experience that will increase her skills and experience in the union’s work at state/territory, national or international level. By extension, it should also support the AEU’s women members.

    The Scholarship is valued at $10,000 and is intended to cover all project expenses including, but not limited to; travel, attendance at conferences, workplace visits, training and developmental opportunities, work-shadowing, research, project design and implementation.

    All women AEU Branch or Associated Body members are strongly encouraged to apply. Contact your local Women’s Officer for more information.

    For more information please see the guidelines. Applications should be submitted using the attached form. Applications must be received by 10 May 2019.