People’s History of Australia is a podcast and blog looking at Australian history from the perspective of ordinary people fighting together for a better life.
Episode 10 - The epic story of mining unionism in the Pilbara
The Pilbara is one of the remotest and most economically significant regions not just in Australia, but in the world, with almost indescribably huge quantities of iron ore. In this episode, we chat with Alexis Vassiley about the epic story of Pilbara unionism, from the rise of mining unionism in the 1960s, to the peak of union power in the 1970s when the Pilbara was one of the most militant union strongholds in Australia, through to the total annihilation and destruction of Pilbara unionism in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Episode 9 - The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia
In the early 1900s, radicals and militant unionists across Australia founded the Industrial Workers of the World, arguably the most legendary left-wing organisation in Australian history. The IWW believed workers should form unions not just to win better wages and conditions, but to overthrow bosses and take over their workplaces themselves, and within a few years they'd recruited thousands of members and influences hundreds of thousands of workers. In this episode, we talk to historian Verity Burgmann about the IWW and their influence in Australia.
Episode 8 - The 1973 Ford Broadmeadows riot
In June 1973, the Ford Motor Company's factory in Broadmeadows, Melbourne, exploded with protest. Thousands of migrant workers, who were subject to brutal working conditions and racist company management, staged a 12-week strike, and when their own union officials attempted to force them back to work, they rioted and smashed up the factory - in the process winning huge wage increases and basic respect. In this episode, we speak with Frank Argondizzo, who took part in the strike and was a union activist at Ford for 25 years.
Episode 7 - The 1978 Sydney Mardi Gras
On 24 June 1978, thousands of people poured onto the streets for Sydney's first ever Mardi Gras - a joyful celebration of gender and sexual diversity, and a defiant statement against state-sanctioned homophobia which viciously criminalised and discriminated against LGBTQI people. In today's episode we chat with Peter Murphy, who was there on the night as police brutally attacked the parade, and as a parade-goers courageously fought back, changing the course of Australian history.
Episode 6 - The 1969 Clarrie O'Shea general strike
In May 1969, Clarrie O’Shea, the secretary of the Victorian branch of the tram workers’ union, was jailed for refusing to pay fines his union had been hit with.
Within days, over 1,000,000 workers across Australia had gone on strike, O'Shea was released from prison, and the repressive 'Penal Powers' laws he was jailed under, which made strikes illegal, had been rendered dead. Strike rates exploded across Australia, wages skyrocketed, and workers made gains which we still enjoy today.
In this episode we chat with Katie Wood, a union delegate and archivist at the University of Melbourne, about the 1969 general strike and what it means for us today.
Episode 5 - The hidden history of Australia in World War I
Few periods of Australian history are as heavily mythologised as World War I. From school textbooks to Anzac Day ceremonies, we're told that Australia was born as a nation on the shores of Gallipoli and that the country united as one behind our gallant diggers, who gave their lives to defend our freedom, our democracy, and our way of life. In this episode we explode these myths, and talk about how Australia was ripped apart by World War I - tens of thousands of Australian died in the trenches of Europe, inflation and unemployment devastated working class living standards, opposition and anti-war organising was ruthlessly criminalised and suppressed, and workers fought back by conducting what was probably the largest strike wave in Australian history.
Informative and approachable
I would love more podcasts like this! Australian history told by Australians. Great work! And very interesting.