Jennie George AO

In 1995, Jennie George became the first woman president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Honour Roll

Jennie George was born on 20 August 1947, at a displaced persons' camp at Trani, Italy, shortly before her Russian parents migrated to Australia. She attended Burwood Girls' High School in Sydney and won a scholarship to Sydney University. While studying Arts there, she joined the Eureka Youth League and participated in anti-Vietnam War protests.

From 1969, she worked as a secondary school teacher and became involved in the Teachers' Union from 1973. She became General Secretary of the New South Wales Teachers Federation from 1980-82 and later, President from 1986-89. She then became Assistant National Director of the Trade Union Training Authority (1989-91) and from 1991-95 was Assistant Secretary of the ACTU.

She was the first woman to be elected to the ACTU Executive in 1983 and pushed such issues as childcare and the equal representation of women in politics and trade unions. In late 1995, Jennie was appointed to the presidency of the ACTU. She held that position from 1996-2000, the first female leader of the ACTU.

On retiring she recalled her greatest achievement as the management of the Patrick stevedoring dispute 'because it was about the heart, soul and survival of the union movement' (The Age, 8 March 2000). Jennie will contest the seat of Throsby for Labor in the 2001 Federal election.