Jennie George created history when she was appointed the first woman President of the ACTU in 1996. Born on 20 August 1947, Jennie attended Burwood Girls High School in Sydney and then went on to do an Arts Degree at the University of Sydney.
She was elected as a full time union official with the NSW Teachers Federation in 1973 and subsequently went on to become General Secretary and then President of the NSW Teachers Federation from 1986-1989. At the national level, she held the positions of Acting President and Deputy President of the Australian Teachers Federation.
In 1983 Jennie became the first woman ever elected to the ACTU Executive.
She worked her way up to vice-president in 1987, then took on the role of Assistant Secretary in September 1991, before attaining the presidency in 1996. She stepped down from the top job in March 2000, making way for a second woman president, Sharan Burrow.
George, who is of Russian and Italian background, described her 26 years in the union movement as “an extraordinary journey”. She believes one of her greatest achievements to be the management of the Patrick stevedoring dispute, “because it was about the heart, soul and survival of the union movement”.
Jennie was elected to Federal Parliament for the seat of Throsby in 2001 and retired at the 2010 election.