RESEARCH ARTICLES ONLY
“Temper Discipline with Kindness”: Female Officers at the Old Melbourne Gaol and City Watch House, 1845–1935
As ideas of penal reform and the rise of the Woman Movement permeated Victorian society in the decades spanning the turn of the twentieth century, the duties of female penal employees changed. From the opening of the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1845 female warders and matrons were an integral part of the Victorian penal system, responsible for overseeing the incarceration of convicted women. Their work paralleled that of their male counterparts. Demands by women’s organisations to increase and extend women’s employment opportunities also impacted on the nature of their work. By the time the Melbourne City Watch House opened in 1909, women were expected to reform the charges in their care, not only to ensure convicted women’s safety in the prison but also to enable the rehabilitation of “fallen” women into respectability. This article analyses the evidence of women’s prison labour and traces the changing expectations of women’s labour in the penal system.
The Proletarian and the Political Challenge of Communism on the Australian Left
There has been little examination of the theory, ideology and politics of early Australian communism. Findings have been limited by interpretations of “Leninism” that fail to grapple with the Communist International (Comintern) and Bolshevik ideas Australian communists first engaged with from late 1919. A study of The Proletarian, produced in its original iteration between 1920 and 1922, enables historians to understand how the new politics of the Comintern were interpreted in Australia. Communism was conceived as a revolutionary project and strategy centred on mass action that overcame the separation of industrial and political strategies plaguing the radical Left. Communists were called on to organise the class-conscious revolutionary section of the workers to agitate in all aspects of working-class life, including unions and parliament. The meagre analysis of Australian conditions in The Proletarian also provides hints as to why the Communist Party of Australia struggled in its early years.
“Don’t Be Too Polite Girls”: Gender Hierarchies and Women’s Leadership in the Meatworkers’ Union in the 1970s
Women’s exclusion from the workforce and trade union movement has historically been legitimated not only through policies such as pay discrimination or restrictions on the kinds of work women can perform, but also through constructed notions of masculinity and femininity. In the Australian meat industry and the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union (AMIEU), women were excluded from the masculinist culture which valued physical strength, mateship, and solidarity above all else and marginalised by reference to domestic and sexual tropes. In the 1970s, this culture came under attack from female meatworkers and the Women’s Liberation Movement who shared a vision to free women from subordinate gender roles. Drawing on archival material and oral history interviews, this article examines the construction of gender hierarchies in the meat industry and AMIEU, and how women in the 1970s challenged these to forge new modes of leadership.