19 episodes

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.

People's History of Australia People's History of Australia

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 36 Ratings

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.

    Ep 19 - Jobs for women! Fighting sexism at the Port Kembla steelworks

    Ep 19 - Jobs for women! Fighting sexism at the Port Kembla steelworks

    Since it was founded in the 1920s, BHP's Port Kembla steelworks has completely dominated the town of Wollongong, employing over 25,000 workers at its peak and physically towering over the city.

    For much of its existence, the steelworks also systematically discriminated against women. Company management deliberately confined women to only the lowest-paying jobs, refused to employ women as steelworkers, and made up arbitrary rules to keep women out - all while constantly advertising for new jobs.

    In the 1970s, women in Wollongong decided to fight back. They protested, chained themselves to the gates of the steelworks, and sneaked in and stayed for overnight shifts with the support of male steelworkers. Then, in 1980, activists stepped up the pressure and began a largescale Jobs for Women campaign that involved thousands of workers, led to a protest encampment being set up outside the steelworks, and witnessed mass rallies for women's rights in the centre of Wollongong. Shortly afterwards, BHP buckled and hired over 300 women steelworkers, and committed to ending discriminatory hiring practices. JfW activists then launched the first anti-discrimination class action case in Australian history, which led to them being awarded $1.4 million in damages.

    To talk about this amazing struggle, we're joined by in this episode socialist activist Diana Covell, a founding member of the Jobs for Women campaign and a former steelworker at Port Kembla.

    • 1 hr
    Ep 18 - SCA here to stay! The fight to save Sydney College of the Arts

    Ep 18 - SCA here to stay! The fight to save Sydney College of the Arts

    In mid-2016, the University of Sydney abruptly announced that it would be closing down its Sydney College of the Arts campus. Within the space of a few months, the internationally-renowned arts school, which had produced scores of famous graduates and offered an almost unique education in visual and fine arts, would be gone, and its students shunted off to another university.

    Fortunately, students at SCA had other ideas, and waged an epic mass campaign to keep the college open that saw huge meetings, strikes and a student takeover of SCA's administration building.

    In this episode we interview Kelton Muir, an activist at SCA who's written an honours thesis about the campaign.

    You can read Kelton's thesis at the link here - https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/25845

    We're also hosting a launch party for this podcast! It's at 6.30pm on Wednesday 8 May at Sydney Trades Hall. Details here - https://www.facebook.com/events/785857270186369/

    • 56 min
    Ep 17 - Years of rage: social conflict in the Malcolm Fraser era

    Ep 17 - Years of rage: social conflict in the Malcolm Fraser era

    In November 1975, the elected Labor Party government of Australia was sacked without notice by Sir John Kerr, the governor-general. Having single-handedly gotten rid of the elected government, Sir John then personally appointed a new government of his own choosing led by Malcolm Fraser and the Liberal Party.

    The dismissal – or the Kerr Coup as many referred to it – was one of the most dramatic events in Australian history, and ushered in a period of intense social conflict. For the next eight years, Malcolm Fraser’s prime ministership was marked by general strikes, high levels of industrial disputes and working-class militancy, riots in the streets, powerful environmental campaigns, and vibrant social movements against the oppression of women, LGBTQ people, Aboriginal people and migrants.

    To tell the story of this incredible era, we're joined by Diane Fieldes, a socialist activist and historian.

    People's History of Australia is currently running a small fundraiser! You can donate to keep us on the air here: https://gofund.me/a00c27db

    • 1 hr 20 min
    Ep 16 – Resistance and rebellion in convict Australia

    Ep 16 – Resistance and rebellion in convict Australia

    When the British Empire invaded and colonised Australia in 1788, the new ruling class had a problem - there was no pre-existing working class in Australia waiting around to work for them. Their solution was to bring tens of thousands of convict prisoners here against their will as a labour force.

    Despite often horrendous working conditions and a brutal regime of punishment, convicts fought back, frequently going on strike, rioting, rebelling, escaping to become bushrangers, and engaging in hundreds of thousands of acts of collective and individual resistance. In this episode, we interview Michael Quinlan, UNSW academic and author of new book 'Unfree Workers', about this inspiring history.

    • 56 min
    Ep 15 - Fighting for the right to protest in 1970s Queensland

    Ep 15 - Fighting for the right to protest in 1970s Queensland

    In 1977, the premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, banned protests. "Don't bother applying for a march permit," he declared. "You won't get one. That's government policy now."

    In this episode, we speak with Judy McVey, who helped organise the massive protest movement that arose in response to Bjelke-Petersen's announcement. Tens of thousands of people rallied in the streets and directly defied the law, over 2,000 people were arrested, and the anti-protest laws were abolished.

    With governments in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia passing repressive laws that threaten protesters with massive fines and jail time, we look at what this campaign means today and what we can learn from it.

    • 34 min
    Ep 14 - How anti-racists defeated Pauline Hanson in the 90s

    Ep 14 - How anti-racists defeated Pauline Hanson in the 90s

    In 1996, newly elected politician Pauline Hanson swept to national prominence after making an extraordinarily racist and inflammatory maiden speech in federal parliament. Capitalising on her notoriety, Hanson announced plans to form a new political party, One Nation, with local branches and a mass membership, and polls indicated she would win widespread support.

    Anti-racists, however, had other ideas. Huge anti-Hanson rallies were organised in towns and cities across the country, and every attempt to run a public meeting featuring Hanson or build a local party branch was met with large and militant protests that disrupted and often shut her meetings down. Support for One Nation dwindled and by late 1998 the party had collapsed.

    In this episode we chat with Vashti Fox about the extraordinary movement to defeat Pauline Hanson and prevent the formation of a mass, racist party in Australia.

    • 1 hr 10 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
36 Ratings

36 Ratings

furryfemme ,

Utterly unique

No other podcast covers Australian leftist history. Wonderful resource.

Zane C Weber ,

Informative and approachable

I would love more podcasts like this! Australian history told by Australians. Great work! And very interesting.

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