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The Health Services Union, has a rich and proud history as Australia’s most representative health union.
The union officially came into existence in 1991 with the amalgamation of two existing unions. But its origins date back much further than that to the early years of the century when organisations of hospital employees were first formed in Australia.
Over the years the membership of the unions that eventually came together to form the HSU has been based around a nucleus of hospital staff and psychiatric care staff. But it has gone much further to include ambulance, aged care, community health, disability sector, hospital scientists, mental health and drug and alcohol workers.
Each of the organisations has had one consistent aim over the years: to act as powerful collectives of workers seeking to secure the best possible wages and conditions in their industries.
Official Beginnings and Amalgamations
In 1911 two unions were registered as federal organisations, formalising the workings of groups of hospital workers.
One was the Hospital and Asylum Attendants and Employees Union of Australia which covered hospital workers in Victoria. The other was the Hospital and Asylum Employees' Union of NSW.
In 1914 the Victorian-based union changes its name to The Hospital Dispensary and Asylum Employees' Union of Australia. From 1924 branches in other states were formed. On May 26 1922 came the registration of another Victorian-based federal organisation which had been operating since the early part of the century, The Hospital Employees Association. All its members worked in Victorian and NSW mental hospitals.
The first thoughts of amalgamation came after the HDAEA opposed the application of the HEA for membership of Trades Hall in the mid 1920s. claiming it was the union to represent health workers.
But after lengthy negotiations, an amalgamation of the two Victorian bodies took place in 1930 following a ballot of HEA members. The Hospital, Dispensary and Asylum Employees' and Allied Government Officers' Federation of Australia was subsequently formed.
Another name change followed in 1946 and then in 1959 the The Hospital Employees' Federation of Australia was formed. The ranks of the HEF were swelled in 1961 by the establishment of two Tasmanian branches of the federal union. At the 1986 annual conference a Victorian No.3 branch was established to represent professional staff such as scientists, therapists and pharmacists.
Meanwhile, in NSW the original union was also undergoing changes both to its name and coverage which initially extended to all members working in hospitals, universities and the ambulance service.
The union became known as the Hospital Employees' Association of NSW in 1947 and then in 1965 became The Health and Research Employees Association.
In 1965 an application was made for registration as an industrial union under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. This registration was granted in February 1970.
The HSU is Formed
The HEF and HREA moved towards amalgamation in the late 1980's. Members had a chance to decide on the merger with a plebiscite being held on July 4 1990. After that the federal organisation which is the HSU officially began almost a year later. The first meeting of the union's national executive was held on February 7 and 8, 1991.
New Branches Welcomed
In 1994 three new branches came into the union. The Hospital Salaried Officers Association from Western Australia affiliated with the HSU, bringing with them their membership of health professionals working in the west.
In Victoria members of the Medical Scientists Association of Victoria and the Victorian Psychologists Association also became members of the HSU (No 4 branch). A further Victorian branch (No 5) was established with the affiliation of the Health and Community Services Staff Association. The No 5 branch has now amalgamated with the Victoria No 1 branch.
On October 1, 2003 the decision was made to change the name of the union to the Health Services Union (HSU) and adopt a new logo. The NSW and Victorian No 1 branch have adopted that name and other branches are gradually changing so that whereever members are around the country they will know they are part of the health union. The Victorian No 3 branch also calls itself the HSU Health Professionals branch.
Health Services Union
Ph: (02) 8203 6066
Fax: (02) 8203 6060