The Innovations series was launched on 7 May 2020 after the Innovations Conference, scheduled for 1-2 April, had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

In creating the Innovations Series we’ve taken the opportunity to make the content of the proposed conference more accessible to a wider audience in our movement – and lowering the cost to participate. We encourage all union leaders and staff to register and join in the presentation and discussions in this weekly webinar series.

Podcast and video of the launch of the Innovations Series available

At the launch of the innovations Series of 7 May 2020, Chris Walton and Belinda Moore presented their new paper Rise! Empowering Australian workers through the Collective Spirit and Collaborative Energy of Unions. This paper as well as a podcast and video of their presentation is available here on the Network”, the online discussion forum for union staff and officials to share strategies, experiences and ideas on growth and innovation.  (Don’t have an account? click “New user/Register now” to create one.)

Innovations series - register now for fourth bloc of webinars

Following the first 16 webinars of the Innovations Series, registrations are now open for next 5 workshops to run from 24 September to 21 October 2020. 

The registration fee for each of the workshops is $20 except for #17, and #21, both of which are free. Register here. Topics and descriptions are listed below.



20.  Human Centred Design and Considering the User Experience for Unions

Thursday, October 15, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Presenters include Shannon Winnell, User Experience Designer, ACTU with Simone Rosser, Member Insights Manager, ACTU.

This webinar will unpack the principles of Human Centred Design and how it can contribute to the work of unions.  Presenters will describe how applying design thinking to problems can put members’ views at the centre of planning and development of new initiatives.  This workshop will draw from recent examples of development of applications for union delegates, members and HSRs.

21. Final Innovations series webinar: So, What Now? Making Innovation Part of Our Practice and Building New Capacities to Win

Wednesday, October 21, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Introduced by Michele O’Neil, President of the ACTU.  Presenters include Chris Walton, CEO, Union Innovation Hub, and Paul Doughty, Manager, Innovation and Capacity Building.

Held as an event of the ACTU Futures Network, this webinar and workshop will review and bring together the principles, strategies, skills, and tools explored over the course of the Innovations Series since its launch in May this year.  With this background, guest presenters will discuss the necessary ingredients to maintain a practice of innovation and how to operationalise the lessons learned to build capacity.

Chris Walton is the CEO of the Union Innovation Hub, an initiative of the ACTU, working with unions driving initiatives to achieve change and growth. The Hub supports unions to embrace innovation via a raft of initiatives including substantially reducing the cost of moving to a modern CRM database system, helping unions share the costs of innovation, developing new services, and sharing best practice.  Chris was previously Director of the ACTU Organising Centre and Organising Works Programme, and while he was Assistant Secretary of the ACTU, coordinated the community and ground component of the Your Rights at Work Campaign. Until recently he was CEO of Professionals Australia.

These webinars are open to all staff and officials of affiliates and we encourage you to register and attend, and pass on to staff and officials who may be interested.  For more information contact Ashok Mathew: amathew@actu.org.au.


Previous topics: 

1. An approach to Member Journey Mapping in the Union Movement

Thursday, May 14, 2020: 3 pm – 4.30 pm AEST

Presented by Simone Rosser, Member Experience and Insights Manager, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Not all members are the same – so how can thoughtful research and building personas help?  This workshop will look at researching member experience, wants, needs and “pain points” to inform and craft their member journey.

2. Lessons Learned with Unfinancial Member Calls

Thursday, May 21, 2020: 3 pm – 4.30 pm AEST

Facilitated by Alex Manning, Lead Contact Centre Organiser, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Retention is the other – equally important - side of the growth coin. Participants in this webinar will hear from the presenters who will sharing some of our movements most well-developed contact centre retention strategies.

3. New Member Onboarding and Automated Member Journeys

Thursday, May 28, 2020: 3 pm – 4.30 pm AEST

Presenters include:  Blair Wigley, Digital Development Officer and Anthony Bieniak, Digital Campaigner, CFMMEU – Manufacturing Division

For many unions the first three years of membership are when members are most at-risk of leaving. This workshop will explore marketing automation tools that can be used in combination with insights about members to craft efficient and effective onboarding and member journeys.

4. Alternative Membership Packages: A case study of Musicians Australia, a digital-first member offer

Thursday, June 4, 2020: 3 pm – 4.30 pm AEST

Presenters include Paul Davies and Aaron Takizaad, MEAA

90% of Australia's working musicians are contractors. Musicians Australia is the vehicle that MEAA employee musician members developed to organise the non-employees - the 90% - the gigging musicians who often aren't paid when they play and who earn less than $55k a year.

The MA plan was developed after 6 months research, engagement and testing. Launched in December 2018, it is an industry organising strategy directed to the issues most important to musicians and dependent on membership growth and leadership for success.

Using social media methods of engagement and a wide range of tools as well as traditional organiser systematic contact and union education, membership among non-employee musicians has more than doubled on a long-term growth trend.

 5. Using new tools and strategies to organise to scale with few staff– case studies

Thursday, June 11, 2020: 9 am – 10.30 am AEST

Presenters include: Adam Kerslake, Organising Director, Professionals Australia and Dan Schlademan, Co-Director, Organisation United for Respect (OUR).

The capacity of new tools for members to organise remotely and online means a clever strategy using list-building and online follow-up means worker organising can be scaled up dramatically without an army of organisers.   This webinar will include case studies on an approach that integrates online and field, and will give participants examples of opportunities for rapid growth in key target areas.

  6. New Methods of Engagement for Unions

  Thursday, June 18, 2020: 3 pm – 4.30 pm AEST

 Presenters include: Gillian Strong, National Campaign & Communications Coordinator, Australian Services Union - National Office

 This webinar explores new strategies being deployed to engage members and improve retention using a combination of personalised communication, online learning professional development and support.

  7. Digital Campaigning Through Paid Advertising

 Thursday, July 2, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

 Tim Doyle, CEO and Co-founder of Eucalyptus, former Head of Marketing of Koala

 This presentation will outline the change in online marketing in last five years and how that change manifested itself in corporate world. Tim Doyle will draw on how lessons of Labor’s 2016 election campaign, informed Koala marketing. He will delve into growth marketing that unions can use to build more effective campaigns and add to leads and members. He will use examples from Koala and other marketing automation and content development. Further, Tim will outline where he thinks marketing platforms and content trends are heading.

 8. Why should I join your union? Understanding the value of unionism.

 Thursday, July 9, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

 Presenters include: Dr Kristy Jones, Behavioural Economist, Head of ACTU Behavioural Insights Unit (ABIU), Anna Ostrowski – Behavioural Economist, ABIU and Hannah Turner Project Officer (Behavioural Specialist), ABIU

 In this webinar, the ACTU Behavioural Insights Unit (ABIU) will run through a new model of union utility. The model ‘formalises’ the key types of benefits unions offer potential members – whether they be material, social or intrinsic. We will then outline how the model can be used to help unions better understand the value they offer potential members, and how an understanding of this value can be used to develop a value proposition with insights about members to craft efficient and effective onboarding and member journeys.

 9. Finding Efficiencies and Managing Change to Improve Governance and Processes.

 Thursday, July 16, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

 Presenters include Raff Del Vecchio, Assistant Secretary of the Police Association of NSW and a Director and Deputy Chair of the Police Bank and Angela Nigro, the Chief Financial Officer of the HSU NSW

 This workshop will be facilitated by Mel Gatfield (Director, New Organising, NSW Secretary, UWU).

Raff and Angela will use the case studies of installing appropriate governance structures at their respective unions. 

 The HSU NSW/ACT/QLD has re-invented itself from an earlier period of crisis. Angela will outline the process of change and reforming HSU policies, processes and systems. Her example will illustrate some worthwhile lessons and principles in achieving change in organisations. 

 Raff’s presentation will go over the governance journey at the Police Association over the last decade through a ‘risk lens’. He will outline structures such as their delegation matrix, financial reporting, diversification of income streams and will touch on how the PA is making an informed decision about membership database systems, to enable them to use technology to cater to a younger generation of members.

  10. An introduction to project management for unions

 Thursday, July 23, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

 Presenters include: Paul Doughty, Manager, Growth and Innovation, ACTU and Nathan Price, Chief Technology Officer, Union Innovation Hub

 The ability to successfully move a project from “idea” to “launch” is critical for unions seeking to create new capabilities or run complex campaigns, particularly when there are changing and competing demands. This online workshop will cover some principles of project management and apply them to a union context, illustrated by some examples and a glimpse at project management tools.

 11. Digital & remote tools to help organisers – case studies

 Thursday, July 30, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

 Presenters include: Alison Rudman, Organising Director, CFMMEU Manufacturing Division NSW and Richard Bailey, Communications and Campaigns Organiser, National Tertiary Education Union, NTEU  - NSW

 A small panel of organisers will describe recent experiences and what they’ve learned in using digital tools such as peer to peer SMS.  At one of their campus branches the NTEU trialled peer to peer SMS to engage members and non-members who had signed an online petition.  They drew useful lessons about how this technology can work for unions.

12. Scaling Up Young Worker Organising

Thursday, August 6, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Presented by Arian McVeigh, Manager at the Young Workers Centre UnionsACT, and Rachel Burgess, Organiser at the Young Workers Centre, UnionsACT

The UnionsACT Young Workers Centre has piloted a mass peer-to-peer program of young worker organising and training over the 2019-2020 summer known as 'Summer Patrol'. 'Summer Patrol' is adapted from similar programs being run in Norway and the UK where young worker activists are skilled-up in talking union to then head into publicly accessible businesses to survey other young workers, promote unionism and campaign against wage-theft.

 13. How Do We Know If It’s Working?

Thursday, 13 August, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Presented by Dr Kristy Jones, Behavioural Economist, Head of ACTU Behavioural Insights Unit (ABIU), Anna Ostrowski – Behavioural Economist, ABIU and Hannah Turner Project Officer (Behavioural Specialist), ABIU

The union movement is in a membership crisis.  To turn this around unions are being innovative in trying new and out-of-the box ideas. But how do we know whether what we are doing is working?

If we want to know the impact of our ideas on members, make sure we aren’t wasting money and resources, and to learn from what we trying, we need to implement structure around how we experiment.   

This webinar will provide an introduction to best-practice experimentation, whether it is for a simple A-B test of a Facebook meme or a large project. It will cover key concepts (such as randomised control trials) to help unions avoid common mistakes when trying new ideas. 

14. Organising Migrant Workers: Lessons Learnt Before and After Covid-19

Thursday, August 20, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Chaired and introduced by Matt Kunkel, Director of the Migrant Workers Centre, VTHC Presenters include: Thomas Costa, Assistant Secretary at Unions NSW, and Gabriela D’Souza, Senior Economist at CEDA.

Australia is currently home to the second largest temporary migrant workforce in the developed world after the United States, according to the OECD. In this webinar, the panel will discuss the drivers that make migrant workers vulnerable to workplace exploitation. Gabriela D’Souza will discuss research and trends on temporary migration and how Covid-19 has affected migrants. Thomas Costa will use the case of Visa Assist (that Unions NSW run together with the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre) to examine how unions can successfully engage with, organise and assist migrant workers.

 15. Automated Marketing for Unions

Thursday, August 27, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Presented by Stephen Gargano, Manager – Strategy, Projects and Development at the Union Innovation Hub

How can unions use marketing automation tools to build their online campaigning and organising capacity to recruit members, leaders, and supporters? Especially for unions with few resources, off-the-shelf commercial digital and social media tools can be used to promote campaigns and sign up new members -- and many of the best-practice e-commerce techniques and tactics for acquisition and retention can be easily adapted for a union context. 

With a background as a data analyst, Stephen has been in the Union world for the past six years, working at Professionals Australia as their Director of Marketing and Member Engagement where he focused on how to recreate the organising experience through online platforms.

16. Marketing and Branding for Unions

Thursday, September 10, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Presenters include: Michael Fisher, Brand and Marketing Manager, ACTU

Michael will present about the basics of branding and the benefits of finding your purpose to help guide strategy and communications with examples from his time at Cricket Australia working on the ‘brand’ of cricket and also the Big Bash League.

17. Converting Student Members to Full Members

Thursday, September 24, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Presenters include: Danielle Mahoney, Campaigns Officer and Cameron Ritchie, Communications Officer, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association; Paul Grainger, Director and Monica Rawat, Deputy Director, Young Professionals Australia; Tara Koot, Apprenticeship Officer, ETU NSW and Scott Reichman, Apprentice Organiser, ETU QLD

Several union branches especially among the trades and professions recruit a significant number of members before they start paid employment in those industries through a free or very low-cost student membership category.  Some have reviewed and developed their means and processes for encouraging these student members to continue as full, paid-up union members when they start work in the occupations for which they have been undergoing education and training. 

In this webinar, we’ll hear from a panel of unionists on what they have learned about recruiting and attracting student members and converting them into ongoing membership of their unions. The webinar will include multifaceted approaches, including elements of membership packages, campaigning, organising, communications and digital.

18.  Fundraising for Unions

Thursday, October 1, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST 

Presented by Dr Kristy Jones, Behavioural Economist, Head of ACTU Behavioural Insights Unit (ABIU), and Anthony Bieniak, Digital Recruiter, Growth & Capacity – Innovation

Dr Kristy Jones heads up the ACTU Behavioural Insights Unit as an experienced behavioural economist. She held roles in government, on not-for-profit boards, and in some of Australia’s leading economic consultancy firms.  Prior to starting her role at the ACTU, she worked as the senior economist at the CFMMEU.

Anthony Bieniak is a member of ACTU Digital Recruitment Team. Prior to joining to the ACTU, he worked for five years in the Digital Campaign Team at the CFMMEU, running industrial, political and digital recruitment campaigns.

In this presentation, Kristy and Anthony will look at some of the theories behind why people donate money, so we can better target potential donors. They will present some of the results of fundraising research the ACTU has conducted, looking at the profiles of people who donate to the union movement. They will also introduce some of the tools and software that unions can use to make fundraising easier.

19.  The Role of Strategic and Legal Research for Unions

Thursday, October 8, 2020: 3 pm - 4.30 pm AEST

Presented by Angus Skinner, Research Manager and Dr Kate Linklater, Research Officer, both with the Police Association of New South Wales (PANSW)

Angus coordinates the participation of the PANSW in reviews of legislative and policy relevant to police officers and policing in New South Wales. His main area of interest is policing agencies successfully applying a WHS framework to psychosocial risks to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of policing personnel.

Prior to starting as the Research Officer at the PANSW in 2018, Kate was a detective in the NSW Police Force, spending most of her career investigating major crimes including drug supply, high-level fraud and terrorism. Kate also lectures in policing and social sciences subjects at Western Sydney University. Kate's main research interest focuses on organisational diversity and inclusion in policing.

Kate and Angus will present on how a research team can increase the access for our union leaders to evidence and data when making decisions of strategic importance, using a case studies of how this has worked in practice at the PANSW. They will then present their vision for the future of research in the PANSW, involving increased analysis of 2-way member engagement platforms, and partnerships between union, universities and employers.