Q and A with your new National Secretary

Melissa Donnelly

Melissa Donnelly, National Secretary

I’m passionate about our union and the work our members do. I came to the CPSU as a young lawyer, have led our national policy, industrial and legal team, as well as been the Executive Committee member responsible for JRM (ATO, Courts, ABS, PMC and private sector areas) and most recently members in DHS.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I live in Sydney, where my partner and I are raising two incredible kids – in fact, I’m the first working mum to be the CPSU’s National Secretary, and I’m grateful to Nadine and to the CPSU for walking-the-talk on supporting people with families.

What were you doing at the CPSU before you started this job?

I started at the CPSU as a lawyer, running litigation for members who were denied the right to participate in the Your Rights at Work campaign by the Howard Government at the height of Workchoices – it gave me a really clear idea of how important it is to protect members’ conditions and wages but also the value and dignity of their work and their rights as individuals. After that, I became head of our industrial and legal team, then came on to the CPSU’s Executive in 2015 – I’ve been team leader for the Justice, Revenue and Media team and most recently for DHS.

What are you most proud of from your time at the CPSU so far?

During our Safeguard campaign in the last round of bargaining, we got a deal in the ATO that kept critical rights and conditions that the Government was threatening, and that a huge majority of members were satisfied with. It also paved the way for settlements in other agencies. I’m incredibly proud of our delegates and members for what we achieved in that campaign at a time when the government were pushing so hard to cut rights and drive down wages and conditions.

What are your priorities for the union?

The union faces difficult times, but alongside that exciting opportunities as well. My priorities for the union include putting delegates at the heart of what we do, ensuring we’re looking after the industrial issues in their workplace while at the same time looking to the big picture and fighting for a strong and well-funded public service.  

What do you do when you’re not working?

I’m a mum to two small children which keeps me very busy! I’m currently trying to defeat a dedicated campaign by my daughter Ellie to get a dog – this is almost a full-time job on its own, involving getting lobbied by my CPSU comrades on her behalf, and extensive negotiations!