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.

Topics to be explored in the Innovations series include:

  • Analysing your audience, segmenting and creating personas
  • The role of branding
  • Personalised content and experience
  • Retention: How to ID at risk members and track engagement
  • New member onboarding and automated member journeys
  • Creating new services: The importance of, and building, value propositions.
  • Online communities: what are they and how might they help
  • Practical ways to cut unfinancial membership in half
  • Alternative membership packages - their potential & risk
  • Lower cost recruitment through digital member journeys, marketing automation and advertising
  • Scaling up young worker organising
  • Innovations in engaging with CALD communities
  • New thinking on delegate development
  • Digital tools to help organisers and achieve accountability
  • Technology reducing servicing load – incl. machine learning.
  • Incorporating digital with field and online organising
  • How to cut resources required for backend processing
  • Online joining and payment gateways
  • Best practice finance and procurement collaboration
  • Data driven decision making
  • Project Management and management reporting

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 third bloc of webinars

Registrations are now open for the third bloc of 6 workshops which run every Thursday afternoon at 3pm from 6 August 2020 to 10 September 2020.

The registration fee for each of the workshops is $20. Register here. Topics and descriptions are listed below.


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. Automating Marketing for Unions

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

Presenters include Alex White, Co-ordinator of Digital Growth and Capacity Building, ACTU

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. 

Before starting with the ACTU, Alex led UnionsACT, growing the small, resource-strapped peak council using inexpensive, off-the-shelf tools to have maximum impact.

16. Converting Student Members to Full Members

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

Presenters include: Danielle Mahoney, Campaigns Officer and Cameron Ritchie, Communications Officer, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association

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.

17. 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.

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.