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 Inside this section: Working Women | Wanpa-rda | Anthology

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Women in Australia’s Working History

Unsung Heroes

Women are the unsung heroes of Australian working life. The Australian Workers Heritage Centre is proud to honour the work of women in the first stage of its ‘Women in Australia’s Working History’ Project - the exhibition, “A Lot on her Hands”.

Video clip:

The Exhibition

Learn about the contribution of Australia’s working women – some famous and some not-so-famous – as you experience the exhibition, “A Lot on her Hands”.

Emma Miller

At the entrance you’ll be greeted by the feisty Emma Miller, seamstress, radical activist, pacifist and suffragette.

Emma Miller’s story (PDF 140k)


Vicki Wilson

You’ll also meet the ordinary women- the tuckshop convenors, the factory workers, mothers and nurses. Many of the women featured are strivers and achievers in their fields.

Vicki Wilson’s story (PDF 51k)


Louisa Lawson

Louisa Lawson was a writer, publisher, fighter for women’s rights and a wife and mother. You can see the printing artifacts and mastheads from her days working on the journals, The Republican and The Dawn. She was also a poet in her own right.

Louisa Lawson’s story (PDF 141k)


Elsie Wright

This exhibition also honours women as makers and producers – women like Elsie Wright, prizewinning Queensland embroiderer.

Elsie Wright’s story (PDF 113k)


Mary Sutherland

Mary Sutherland is an impressive modern-day “maker” who, with a couple of friends invented an industry – Tambo Teddies.

Mary Sutherland’s story (PDF 80k)


Ruth Hegarty

Ruth Hegarty is a member of the stolen generation whose story will move and inspire you.

Ruth Hegarty’s story (PDF 115k)


Bid O’Sullivan

Communicators like much-loved School of the Air teacher, Bid O’Sullivan tell their stories through sound and pictures.

Bid O’Sullivan’s story (PDF 140k)

There are many other women - both ordinary and extraordinary- who tell their own stories of work, paid and unpaid – women like Oodgeroo (poet and campaigner) Joan Kirner (politician) and Pat Marks (entomologist):

This exhibition is a rich and rewarding illumination of an amazing cross section of Australian women and their labours, both paid and unpaid over the past 200 or so years. There have been many challenges and important milestones for Australian women along the way.