Tuesday 25th November 2008
The Sydney Alliance, a new coalition of community groups, aims to shape the quality of urban life in Sydney.
Conventional wisdom would have us believe that a diverse range of faiths – Jews, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims – would struggle to find much in common. If trade unions and community groups were added to that melting pot, chaos should reign and a dialogue of the deaf should follow.
Not so, says Jill Biddington, Executive Officer of the Sydney Alliance, a coalition of community groups, faith organisations and unions that has come together to shape the quality of urban life in Sydney.
‘When people from seemingly different backgrounds talk to each other they find they have much more in common than they have differences,’ she said.
‘Reliable public transport, access to a decent health system, educational and job opportunities for their kids, a liveable wage – everyone living in a big city like Sydney shares these needs.’
The Sydney Alliance is modelled on similar organisations overseas that have successfully campaigned for a living wage (London), expanded public transport (Baltimore), or new apprenticeship programs to give local kids opportunities for high skilled jobs (Seattle). There are similar coalitions in Canada, Germany and the United States.
In all these overseas groups, unions play a key part as they do in the Sydney Alliance.
Although recently formed, the Sydney Alliance already boasts the Uniting Church NSW Synod, the Arab Council of Australia, the Jewish Board of Deputies, the Parramatta Diocese of the Catholic Church, Asian Women at Work and a number of unions as members.
The unions include NSW Teachers Federation, Unions NSW, CFMEU, LHMU and the USU. The Alliance is a non-part/political organisation.
Common ground with nurses
The NSWNA Council recently voted to become a participating organisation in the Alliance. General Secretary Brett Holmes says the Sydney Alliance will be a good vehicle for nurses to build relationships with organisations that we have not worked with closely in the past.
‘We can be more effective in achieving social change that will benefit nurses and their families if we build relationships with other organisations that share our aspirations to a fair society,’ he said.
‘What impresses me about these organisations is that they see how important a decent health system and quality aged care are for their members.
‘It won’t be hard for us to find common ground around issues like this that will be mutually beneficial.’
Brett says the Association is mindful that the initial focus of the Alliance’s activities will be in Sydney, when a large number of our members live in other parts of NSW.
‘If the initiative is successful in Sydney we would like to see it extended to the whole state and the benefits the Alliance achieves be universal for all members,’ he said.