Developing union leaders


New leaders come through the PSA structures all the time.

PSA Youth members attend leadership development training in Wellington

PSA Youth members attend leadership development training in Wellington

As delegates move to new roles, retire or step back, new leaders step forward to have their say and further our goal of creating a better working life for our members.

Over 1000 PSA members become delegates each year, and the Youth and Women’s networks are playing a strong role in helping to make our delegates more representative of the demographics of our entire membership.

Both networks now hold leadership development courses. PSA Youth has held successful youth leadership training in the five major centres since 2012, with the most recent round receiving nearly 400 applications for only 100 places.

Brittany Travers is a new PSA delegate at the Tertiary Education Commission in Wellington. She says events like the PSA Youth training “make us feel like we’re not alone, we’re in it together, and
we can build youth membership, and combat apathy”.

She adds, “The skills that I’ve learned have been great for me to bring back to my day job.” She encourages others to attend PSA courses, saying “grab all of the opportunities that come your way – don’t make excuses for why you shouldn’t go to something”.

People have a variety of different routes by which they become union members. Ash Muston first encountered the PSA when she presented to a PSA Youth election planning day in Dunedin on behalf of environmental group Generation Zero, and soon after took advantage of PSA’s free student membership.

“It was my first foray into the culture of the PSA outside of local Dunedin stuff,” said Ash about attending youth leadership training in Christchurch, “meeting people in other areas of work, all
under the banner of the PSA.”

Ash found that the training provided a “great overview of the leadership structures, how the PSA makes decisions and made it clear to see how I could fit into it”.

After getting a new job and attending leadership development training, Ash became a delegate at Dunedin’s Toitū Settlers Museum.

Since 2012 the Women’s Network has offered a course called Targeting the Untapped Talent. This year the network added a second day to the course called Growing Our Leadership Talent which focuses on public speaking, assertiveness and campaigning. The course was piloted in Auckland in April.

Jean Ottley attended both stages of the women’s network course because, she says, “Leadership interests me”. It’s this sort of attitude that inspires her to be a PSA delegate at Careers NZ in Whangarei.

“It was affirming,” says Jean, “the course wrapped around the skills and knowledge I already had, seeing the different ways you can be a leader, and the ways you already are.”

Carol Ronayne, a Healthcare NZ worker in the Bay of Plenty, also said the course helped her to realise she was already a leader in many ways. “When I got co-opted to be a delegate, I didn’t know what I was doing,” she said, and that “the insight provided from the course” has helped her to be a better delegate and to understand how the PSA works.

All four delegates strongly recommend that PSA members take up the opportunity to attend leadership development where possible. Both networks will be running more courses around the country in the future – email psay@psa.org.nz (PSA Youth) or women@psa.org.nz (Women’s Network) to find out more.