In 1983, a young Australian nurse named Helen McCue, a committed member of the Australian Nursing Federation, was working as a nurse educator with the World Health Organisation in the Middle East. Returning to Australia and inspired by her experience, she took a proposal to the then ACTU President Cliff Dolan to established an international solidarity organisation in Australia.
While at the Palestinian refugee camps she worked with nurses from Norwegian People’s Aid, the overseas aid arm of the Norwegian trade union movement. Helen felt that the Australian union movement could also make a difference in the lives of workers and marginalised peoples around the world.
With Cliff’s support, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA was established in 1984. It aims to build self-reliance through support to educational and training projects for workers and their organisations.
Over 40 training projects, working through 30 separate project partners in 15 countries, assist many different communities in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Southern Africa and the Caribbean.
Support for these projects comes from many individual union members throughout Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), unions and workplaces, as well as from the Australian government aid agency, DFAT.