Struggle, Hope and Victory: The Campaign by the ASWU for its First Federal Award, 1977-85

Fran Hayes[1]

The following article is an abridged version of the publication, Struggle, Hope and Victory: the Campaign by the Australian Social Welfare Union for the CYSS Award, 1977-1985 by Fran Hayes, published by the Australian Services Union NSW and ACT, 2019.

This is an account of a campaign by a newly formed, small and cash-strapped union to win its first federal industrial award. At the beginning, the main officers and activists in the campaign had no experience of the Australian conciliation and arbitration system. Along the way, the union met opposition from other unions, employers and the federal government of the day.

The union finally got its award in 1985, after beating all odds to win a High Court decision in 1983 which fundamentally changed the Court’s interpretation of the constitutional provisions on industrial disputes. This enabled the union to proceed with a federal award, as well as allowing other unions access to the federal industrial relations system for the first time. The author was an active participant in the campaign, and takes us from the first weeks of the campaign in 1977 to the final outcome in 1985.

Background of the Australian Social Welfare Union
The Australian Social Welfare Union (ASWU) formally came into being on June 1, 1976. It originated from the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), the national professional body for university educated social workers. The AASW Federal Council decided in late 1975 to clearly separate the social work professional association function within the AASW from any industrial and social action functions. A plebiscite of members endorsed this ‘split’ within the AASW. The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) was to remain a professional association open only to social workers with a professional education in social work from an accredited Australian program or an equivalent overseas qualification. The Australian Social Welfare Union (ASWU) would take responsibility for the industrial representation of social and community services workers of all kinds, and for the role of what was then called ‘social action’. Social action meant taking action on matters of injustice which were broader than the industrial interests of the union’s members.

The AASW proponents of the ASWU had shown great foresight in relation to achieving the formal recognition of the new union within the federal industrial relations system. The AASW had actually gained federal registration as a union in 1955, in a move driven by Norma Parker, an activist social worker of that period.[2] Although the AASW had never acted on its registration in the federal industrial relations system, its status remained intact at the time of the formation of the ASWU. The ASWU was thus able to ‘inherit’ the status of a federally registered union from the AASW by applying to the Industrial Registrar for a change of name from AASW to ASWU. This was a much simpler process than seeking to register a new union from scratch.

The name change proceeded relatively smoothly. All that remained for the union to do on the federal registration front was to apply to change the eligibility rule from one which embraced only social workers to one which included all types of social and community services workers.

National Award the Top Priority of the Union
At its first Federal Council meeting in 1976, the union resolved to campaign for a federal award to cover social and community services workers throughout Australia. Apart from those members in public sector employment, and those social workers in Victoria covered by a state Wages Board Determination, the non-government landscape was totally award free.

The Award Campaign: the Beginning
A National Award Committee (NAC) was convened by the then Sydney-based Federal President, Bob Boughton, with representatives from the state and territory branches. A draft award claim was prepared and discussed at the NAC. It had fairly standard provisions contained in awards at that time, but it included a salary scale based on years of experience in the industry rather than on qualifications held. This was consistent with the ASWU breaking away from the AASW’s exclusive focus on the salaries of social workers with formal qualifications, instead extending its attention to the pay and conditions of all kinds of community workers, with or without formal qualifications.

As an unemployed new social work graduate in mid-1977, I met Bob Boughton in the office of a regional development organisation in the inner City of Sydney. On this first meeting, Bob, signed me up as an ASWU member, and invited me to attend the local branch meeting that night. I then attended a TUTA course that week which was designed especially for the ASWU to help us with our award campaign, and the following weekend I was flying to Melbourne as the NSW delegate to the NAC.

The National Award Campaign Executive Committee: the Powerhouse of the Campaign
Other keen new Sydney-based ASWU members and social work students on placement with the union were pressed into service for the award campaign. These activists quickly became the National Award Campaign Executive Committee (NAC Executive) – Bob Boughton, Kim Anson, Ann Reich, myself and, later, Steve Mills. The five of us drove the campaign, with regular reports to the Federal Executive and the Federal Council.

It was agreed by Federal Council in 1977 that an organiser be employed full-time for three months to run the campaign for the federal award. Interestingly, it was resolved to try and ensure that, all things being equal, a woman be appointed to this role. When advertising and interviewing for the role yielded no suitable candidates, the rest of the NAC Executive Committee prevailed on me to take on the role. I had by this time taken a job as a CYSS (Community Youth Support Scheme – a federal government funded program) worker in the western suburbs of Sydney. I agreed to seek three months leave from my job to run the federal award campaign, and this was granted by my employer. Little did I know then that I was never to return to that job.

The NAC Executive provided exceptional support to the campaign for the duration of the NAC Organiser’s role, meeting weekly from December 1977 to March 1980.

The Challenges
We faced significant challenges in our quest for a federal award. Firstly, as a new and very small union, we operated on extremely limited funds. Legal costs, air fares, accommodation and the employment of a full-time organiser accounted for most of the federal union’s budget. Our ‘no frills’ arrangements included Glad Hawkins, the Melbourne based Federal Secretary, putting interstate people up at her own home when they were visiting Melbourne on union business.

Secondly, we had to deal with a pattern of employment in our industry in which small numbers of workers were scattered across numerous small workplaces all around Australia. This made union organising extremely difficult.

Furthermore, we were working in a new industry (the emerging community sector in the 1970s), where there was no history of unionisation, and no employer organisation to negotiate with. In fact, the question of who the employer was in community organisations was far from resolved. On one view, the employer was the federal or state government, because they funded the services, and the management committees did not own the money and assets of the services. On the other hand, there was a view that the CYSS Management Committees, who had the power to hire and fire project workers, were the employer of CYSS Project Officers. Many employees and management committees saw their arrangements as something quite different from normal employment, and could not see how unions and industrial relations were relevant to them.

Preparing for the Campaign
What work did we at this stage believe would be necessary to obtain a federal award for our members? As we saw it, we had to identify community organisations across the states and territories where we had members, get their correct postal addresses, draw up and serve an ambit log of claims on their employers, have a dispute found in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and then negotiate an award with the employers. Oh! And complete the union’s eligibility rule change. All in three months!

Although none of us had industrial relations experience or qualifications, we believed that, with appropriate expert advice, political guidance, trade union training, the support of our members, support from other unions and hard work, we could make it.

In terms of expert advice, the union received legal advice from Simon Williams of Maurice Blackburn in Melbourne, a law firm specialising in industrial law. Maurice Blackburn continues today, with a high community profile on social justice issues. Simon referred us to Jim Kennan, a Melbourne barrister, for more complex matters.

The union also engaged Jack Hutson, a retired research officer from the Metalworkers Union[3] on a consultancy basis to provide advice on the technical steps involved in gaining a federal award. Jack not only provided the technical advice, he did so from a progressive political position. Jack’s step-by-step paper guide to serving a log of claims – eg, what documents had to be sent by registered mail, how many copies – was invaluable to us.

In 1977 the NSW Centre of the Trade Union Training Authority (TUTA) ran a special three day course for our union on issues related to achieving a federal award and related skills. A number of us also attended mainstream TUTA courses to build our skills and knowledge in the relevant areas.

The NAC Organiser Begins Work
In my first week as National Award Campaign Organiser (NAC Organiser) in December 1977, I visited Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria to organise for the award claim. The idea was to get from each branch the necessary material to enable us to serve a log of claims, namely the contact details of employers in organisations where we had members. We had to serve the claim across two or more states to create the required ‘industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one state’. This turned out to be easier said than done.

Perhaps for the first time, it became clear that members and potential members felt very vulnerable about their organisations being identified with the union and the award campaign. They feared that any organisations selected by the union to be logged could face serious consequences. Loss of government funding, and therefore jobs, was a major fear.

Pay and Conditions in the Award-Free Community sector
It is useful at this point to look at the prevailing arrangements for wages, conditions and workplace rights for our members at the start of our award campaign.

The ‘70s had seen a great expansion of community organisations, consistent with the ideal of community self-determination, where governments funded community organisations to run all manner of services. There can be no doubt that governments at that time, and indeed today, saved a lot of money by outsourcing the management of community services to honorary community management committees.

What a community worker was paid was a random affair, determined by what the management committee applied for in their funding submissions. There were huge differences in what workers were being paid for the same work across different services. For example, the rates of pay for CYSS Project Officers at the time we began our award campaign could be anything from $7500 pa to $15,000 pa. It was totally dependent on what their management committees applied for. And there was no attempt by government at this stage to provide guidance to management committees to encourage uniformity of wages and conditions across projects.

Not only were there huge disparities in their pay for the same work, many CYSS workers suffered from inefficient administration by their management committees. More seriously, we were representing CYSS workers being summarily dismissed by their management committees for misdemeanors such as displaying political posters in their workplaces (in one case, a poster opposing uranium mining).

CYSS workers and other workers employed in the award-free community sector under similar arrangements were extremely vulnerable. To those of us working on the National Award Campaign, the union’s top priority was to gain protection for these vulnerable workers.

Risks Faced in Pursuing our Award
In the course of the rule-change negotiations, other parties made the point that our capacity to get a federal award in the Commission could be in question, because on current High Court constitutional interpretations, we could be found not to comply with the requirement to create an industrial dispute.

Our legal advisers recommended that we begin our quest for an industry-wide federal award with the CYSS, because its status as a manpower scheme would make it easier to demonstrate the ‘industrial’ nature of the work and the dispute, in the event of a challenge on this point.

Decision to Begin with CYSS Award
We decided at the beginning of 1979 to commence our award campaign by seeking a federal award for CYSS workers. We had CYSS members throughout Australia. This was important for creating an interstate industrial dispute, then an essential factor in obtaining a federal award. CYSS members in NSW were particularly active in the union, and were ready and willing to support the campaign. Many CYSS workers had close links with their management committees, many of which included ASWU members. This became crucial to us as we fought to establish an employer body with which we could negotiate the award.

We consulted CYSS members about the log of claims, and briefed them on the likely course of events after the log of claims was served. Every step in the CYSS award claim process from then onward depended on our CYSS members for its success. Names and addresses of CYSS committees, intelligence on what the government was telling management committees about the award claim, identification of management committees likely to support the award claim, and provision of work sites for Commission inspections, were just some of the ways they supported the campaign.

Log of Claims Served
In March 1979 we served the ASWU ambit log of claims on a total of 115 CYSS Management Committees located in NSW, WA, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania, using Jack Hutson’s templates. Following the employers’ non-compliance with the claim, we notified the CYSS dispute to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in May 1979. The first hearing of the dispute was set down for July 10, 1979.

Government Response
Our service of the log of claims provoked an immediate response from the conservative federal government of that time. The Department of Employment and Youth Affairs (DEYA), which funded and administered CYSS, requested a meeting with us. In this meeting, they informed us that:

  1. DEYA did not want to be seen as the CYSS employer;
  2. DEYA intended to assist the local management committees to organise for the case as employers and intended to pay counsel to appear for them;
  3. DEYA intended to intervene in the case in its own right;
  4. DEYA wanted to prevent CYSS being covered by an ASWU award, because of possible precedents for other ‘manpower’ schemes which they may wish to establish in future.

Government Meeting to Persuade the NSW CYSS Management Committees to Oppose the Award
In the lead up to the first hearing of our case, DEYA called a meeting in Sydney of all CYSS management committees in NSW. Kim Anson (NAC Executive) and I wrangled an opportunity to explain the union’s objectives and answer questions at this meeting. We were required to leave the meeting whenever it was discussing anything of strategic importance to the employer position.

A management committee chairperson who had been coached by DEYA spoke to the meeting, proposing that an award should not be made until certain issues had been ‘canvassed’ in the Commission. He nominated a barrister who could advise them on these issues, who would be paid for by DEYA. The meeting elected a Chairpersons’ Consultative Committee to brief the barrister.

The barrister, who was on standby at the meeting, set out to convince the Consultative Committee that they should seek an adjournment to allow time for further consultation on the technicalities which could be canvassed in the Commission. The Consultative Committee agreed to this, and took the proposal back to the larger meeting for acceptance.

DEYA then sent a telegram to all the CYSS management committees across Australia that had been served with the log of claims, asking them to authorise the barrister to represent them and to seek an adjournment.

All of this was happening in the midst of a good, old-fashioned telecommunications industrial dispute, which by this stage had brought STD phone calls to a standstill across Australia. While DEYA could afford to send 115 telegrams to Committees, we could not.

Our Response
We had to use everything at our disposal to counteract the DEYA message to the management committees. Our goal was to get an alternative group of Management Committees to withhold their authorisation of the government-bankrolled barrister and to nominate themselves to appear on behalf of all like-minded committees to state that they did not object to the finding of an industrial dispute and were prepared to negotiate with the union for an award.

Those who took the DEYA option were, we believed, a combination of those whom the government had succeeded in scaring about the legal consequences for them of an award, and some who had conservative federal MPs as their chairpersons. The latter were happy to organise for the government’s position against the award.

The alternative Committees consisted of people who were intrinsically committed to union principles, whatever the industry or occupation. They were compatible with the political orientation of our union, and some were even members of our union in relation to their own employment. They were happy to assist challenging the government’s anti-worker goals.

We used every method short of carrier pigeons to get our message out to Management Committees across the continent. Anyone who knew anyone travelling to the states where the log of claims had been served was given union material to counter the government’s plan to prevent an award being made in CYSS. They made every effort to get this material to the Management Committees covered by the log of claims.

We were incredulous at the blatant attempt of the Fraser government to deny workers the protection of an award by manipulating the employer position, using significant government resources, all against a small union.

In the Commission
The first hearing of the matter in the Commission was on July 10, 1979, before Deputy President Isaac. Jim Kennan appeared for us, having spent the previous night in a share house occupied by a number of our activists to save the union money.

It must be said here that at this stage we were terrified about what we were doing and what could happen to us in the Commission. We had never appeared In the Commission before, and here we were, pursuing a first award, facing the full force of the Fraser Coalition government.

What a joy it was to behold the representative of the management committees who supported the making of an award standing up and identifying himself, and stating his support for the finding of an industrial dispute. Our overwhelming effort to achieve this simple outcome had been successful. This group of ‘consenting’ Management Committees made up a body that was equally valid in the eyes of the Commission as the body representing those opposing the award. This reinforced the reality that we were not only organising our members in this campaign; we were also organising the employers.

The barrister appearing for the Management Committees that had complied with the DEYA strategy to block the award, not only sought an adjournment of the matter; he foreshadowed that he would challenge the ASWU’s capacity to generate an industrial dispute if authorised to do so by his clients. The barrister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (intervening) indicated that she would challenge on this basis at a later date if the barrister appearing for the Management Committees did not.

Jim Kennan, for the ASWU, proposed that the Commission make a finding of an industrial dispute on this occasion, leaving it open to any party to seek a revocation of the finding at a later date. Deputy President Isaac made a finding of an industrial dispute and directed the parties to confer on the log of claims.

We had won Round One! With the strong support of our CYSS members, and despite all of the problems of phone communication leading up to the hearing date, a respectable number of Management Committees had been drafted to the cause of the award, and their representative had been recognised as a party to the dispute. Jim Kennan’s tactical request for a finding of dispute, allowing parties to seek revocation at a later date, was a coup, giving Deputy President Isaac a positive mechanism to keep the case moving. And it gave us the basis to start negotiating the award with those Committees who were in favour of an award. The ‘consenting’ employers became the CYSS Chairpersons’ Negotiating Committee, representing 27 CYSS projects across Australia. We went on to negotiate the full terms of an award with this committee.

Meanwhile, the membership of the government-funded Committees opposing the award had dwindled to thirteen. We were not in a position to know the reasons for the attrition, as the defectors certainly did not come over to the CYSS Chairpersons’ Negotiating Committee. Our case was drawn out over a long period, and it is likely that some of these Management Committees lost interest in the anti-union campaign. Some may even have grown tired of being used as a political football by the government.

Second Hearing in the Commission
We were at last in the Commission again on October 8, 1980. We had supplied Deputy President Isaac with the terms agreed with the CYSS Chairpersons’ Negotiating Committee under statutory declaration on October 3, 1980. We took the initiative by treating this hearing as the forum for having the agreed terms made into a consent award. Our request for a consent award was supported by a representative of the CYSS Chairpersons’ Negotiating Committee, which had negotiated the agreed terms with us.

The government-funded barrister representing those CYSS Committees opposing the award, immediately sought an adjournment. He foreshadowed that he would be arguing that the original finding of dispute be revoked, and he was supported by counsel for the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs as intervener. They would be arguing that the dispute finding be revoked on the ground that it lacked an industrial basis. They contended that neither the CYSS Committees nor the project officers were engaged in or in connection with an industry.

Counsel for the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs argued that CYSS Committees were not employers in an industry, that project officers were not engaged in work of an industrial nature and that the eligibility rules of the union did not embrace project officers employed by CYSS Committees. These were all grounds that we had anticipated in a worst-case scenario. We were prepared for them.

The Commission did not grant an adjournment, so evidence from both sides began on the day. It was completed on a further date in April, 1981. A magnificent effort by our CYSS members, the NAC Executive and expert witnesses ensured that we put up a good fight. We had gathered evidence that CYSS project officers met the educational requirements of our existing eligibility rule; Professor Stuart Rees, head of the Department of Social Work at the University of Sydney, appeared for us as an expert witness to argue that CYSS work was a form of social work; and an NAC Executive member, Kim Anson, who was both a qualified social worker and a CYSS Project Officer, gave evidence on the common characteristics of both. Another CYSS Project Officer, Phil Wiffen, took the stand to provide evidence of CYSS’s connection with industry. I was called, as ASWU Federal President, to give evidence on our eligibility rule. Our CYSS members also organised locations for inspection by the Commission at their work sites, selected to highlight the ‘industrial’ nature of CYSS activities.

Finding Against Revocation and ‘Employer’ Response
On June 12 1981, Deputy President Isaac announced his rejection of the application for revocation of his finding of dispute. His grounds for doing so were, in summary, that there was a valid industrial dispute and that the union’s eligibility rules enabled it to create such a dispute on behalf of CYSS Project Officers. The employers represented by the government-paid counsel then appealed to a Full Bench of the Commission, consisting of Justices Cohen and Coldham, and Commissioner Turbet. Jim Kennan presented our case.

On April 5 1982, it was announced that the employers’ appeal was upheld, with Coldham and Turbet supporting the appeal, and Cohen dissenting. Coldham and Turbet argued that Deputy President Isaac was in error in finding an industrial dispute existed, that the union’s eligibility rule did not cover CYSS Project Officers, and that CYSS Project Officers employed by Community Youth Support Scheme were not employed in or in connection with professional social work (the industry covered by the union’s eligibility rule). A point of interest is that Coldham and Turbet made the case for the CYSS workers and CYSS work being incapable of generating an industrial dispute by countless references to the tortured case law on this matter, going as far back as 1908. Little did they know that there was to be a revolutionary change that would cast all this aside in a matter of months.

We Head to the High Court
If we were to continue our campaign for the award, the final option was to appeal the Full Bench decision to the High Court. Jim Kennan indicated that he would represent us at no cost if we decided to go to the High Court. He also advised that the numbers in the High Court were moving towards a majority position on freeing up the Constitutional interpretation of the term ’industrial dispute’. His assessment at that time was that the numbers favouring a freeing up were likely to move to a majority of one (ie, 4:3) in the near future. We authorised him to go ahead. In the event, by the time the matter came up for hearing in the High Court, Jim had been elected to the Victorian Government and appointed Attorney-General. Jim arranged to have another barrister, Peter Gray, represent us in the High Court, free of charge.

The case was heard on March 8 and 9, 1983, a matter of days after the election of the Hawke Labor government. The new government intervened in support of the union rather than the CYSS committees opposing the award.

The decision was handed down on June 9, 1983. To our amazement, the High Court had decided unanimously in our favour. Not only had they removed the last legal obstacle to our award claim; they had fundamentally changed the Court’s interpretation of the constitutional provisions on industrial disputes. By shedding decades of over-technical construction of the meaning of ‘industrial dispute’, the Court opted for a ‘commonsense’ approach to the interpretation of these provisions:

It is, we think, beyond question that the popular meaning of ‘industrial disputes’ includes disputes between employees and employers about the terms of employment and the conditions of work… We reject any notion that the adjective ‘industrial’ imports some restriction which confines the constitutional conception of ‘industrial disputes’ to disputes in productive industry and organised business carried on for the purpose of making profits.[4]

This decision did not just affect our union; it also allowed unions who had been locked out by the previously restrictive interpretation by the High Court of the meaning of industrial disputes to come into the federal industrial system. These included public sector teachers’ unions and the Firefighters Union.

The Financial Review of June 10, 1983 covered the decision on its front page under the banner ‘Industrial relations revolution’, while the Sydney Morning Herald featured an article on the decision under the heading of ‘High Court widens industrial net’.


At the Clyde Cameron College in Wodonga on the morning of June 9, 1983, I received a call from Carol Matthews in our NSW Branch office informing me of the High Court decision. I will never forget her answer when I asked how many of the judges had decided our way. ‘Unanimous!’ was her response.

Not only had we won our case; the decision changed the course of judicial interpretation of the term ‘industrial dispute’ within the Constitution. We were soon in the legal textbooks.

Onward to the CYSS Award

The union finally achieved its first federal award in 1985. Later, when the CYSS program was replaced by a succession of new schemes, it was called the Community Employment, Training and Support Services Award. These days, it is known as the Labour Market Assistance Industry Award.

From the date of the High Court decision in 1983, the Hawke Labor government, with the dedicated commitment of Ralph Willis, the relevant minister, facilitated the negotiation of the final award. The days of the government bankrolling selected CYSS Management Committees to disrupt the making of an award were over.

The most significant contribution of the government was to support, financially and organisationally, the formation of a representative and skilled group of employers with whom the union could negotiate the award. What began as the CYSS Employers’ Organisation, with David Thompson as CEO, later became the National Skillshare Association, which in turn became Jobs Australia, today’s recognised national employer association in the community sector.

One of the many benefits of our award campaign was that representative roles were defined for employers and community workers, where there had been no such structure prior to the campaign. This made unionism relevant to many workers and management committees who had previously not seen how it could apply to them.

Numerous officials of the union put in an enormous effort on the award negotiating committee. These included Peter Davidson (federal), Roque Reynolds (NSW), Ken Howard (Victoria), David Annis Brown (NSW), and Ian Hurd (SA). There is no doubt that the state branches were now committed to the federal award process, as well as the work they were doing towards state registration and state awards.

Nothing stands still in the world of industrial relations. Governments in more recent times have relied more on the corporations power than the conciliation and arbitration power of the Constitution as a foundation for new industrial laws. However, the ASWU High Court decision, apart from giving our union access to federal awards, gave many unions who had formerly been excluded from the federal system access to federal registration for the first time. In the Australian industrial relations environment, this means unions can protect the interests of their members against other federally registered unions, an option not available if they have only state registration. Following the ASWU High Court decision, there was also a freeing up of many areas of practice in the federal system, including an embrace of responsibility for matters such as reinstatement.

Despite the ASWU punching above its weight in breakthroughs like the CYSS High Court decision in 1983, it was still a very small union which was always strapped for cash. So when Bill Kelty’s amalgamation caravan chugged through Australian unions in the late 1980s, the ASWU joined the ride, amalgamating firstly with the Municipal Officers’ Association (MOA), and then becoming, along with the MOA and others, part of the Australian Services Union.


The ASWU award campaign, and its victorious High Court outcome, represented a real David and Goliath contest.

A small, newly formed union, inexperienced in the workings of the Australian conciliation and arbitration system, was up against a conservative federal government which was prepared to expend significant resources over a long period to break the union’s award campaign. This included the federal government bankrolling a rearguard action to prevent an award being made in the community sector. It was also up against a long-standing restrictive High Court interpretation of the term ‘industrial dispute’.

In considering the factors which contributed to the ASWU’s victory, it must be said that those working on the campaign at every level of the union, including rank-and-file CYSS members, were fast learners, determined and hard-working, refusing to give up in the face of setbacks.

The quality of the legal advice we received, and the analysis by Jim Kennan of the likely shift in the High Court’s position on industrial disputes, were vital to our success. The willingness of Jim Kennan (later replaced by Peter Gray) to put our case to the High Court free of charge made it possible for us to slog it out till the end.

Like all High Court decisions, this decision took place in a political context. The case was heard in the High Court a matter of days after the election of the Hawke Labor government, and the defeat of the conservative Fraser government.

In direct contrast to the Fraser government, the Hawke government was supportive of the ASWU award campaign. The government’s position in the High Court was supportive of a broader interpretation of the term ‘industrial dispute’, and when it came to negotiating the CYSS award, the government provided substantial support to developing a structure for the union and the employers’ to negotiate the award.

It was not long after the CYSS High Court decision that the Hawke government again won in the High Court with a novel use of the constitutional external affairs power. This was to allow the federal government to override the states on environmental matters, with the immediate issue being the prevention of the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania.


[1]      Fran Hayes was the first paid organiser in the Australian Social Welfare Union (ASWU), a union which was formed in 1976 out of a professional association for social workers, the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). Fran’s roles in the union were: National Award Campaign Organiser (1977-80); Federal President (1978-80); Federal Vice-President (1980-82).

[2]      We know from historical sources that Parker was instrumental in the foundation of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), and served as its inaugural president from 1946 to 1954. She was also influential in the foundation of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) in 1946.

[3]      The title Metalworkers’ Union refers to a union that has undergone many name changes over its long and proud history. Beginning as the Australian Engineering Union, it is these days known as the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union.

[4]      The Queen V. Coldham; Ex Parte Australian Social Welfare Union, 153 CAR 297, June 9, 1983.