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Documentary tells story of campaign by women for steel works’ jobs – coming to Thirroul

WOMEN of Steel, a rousing story about the 1980-1994 campaign by Wollongong women for jobs in the BHP-AIS steel works is screening at Thirroul this month.

Women of Steel is directed by 30-year career steelworker Robynne Murphy whose jobs at the Port Kembla plant included welder, crane driver, and hot strip mill operator. 

The personal story of the campaign sustained by Robynne and hundreds of other local women for the right to work at BHP is exciting, moving and often humourous. It is an important and now sometimes forgotten episode in Australia’s history and Robynne left a promising career as a young filmmaker (she was selected for AFTRS’s first intake) when she became caught up in the Jobs for Women Campaign. 

Women of Steel was recently a finalist in the prestigious $10,000 Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival.  This is Robynne’s second film to be featured in the Sydney Film Festival; her first was in 1974. 

Women of Steel is also a finalist in Best Documentary – History and Best Documentary – Social & Political Issues categories of the 2020 ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Awards.

That Robynne could return to filmmaking so successfully after so many years is a testimony not only to her talents but also to the exciting nature of the events that took place in Wollongong during the 1980s. 

Today, Robynne continues to work in a non-traditional job, albeit now as a volunteer. She drives the big truck for her RFS brigade and was on the fire ground all through the 2019-2020 fires on the far south coast of NSW.

This fascinating account of the largely forgotten history of Australia’s Steel City was crafted over decades with support from local community volunteers and over 500 donors.

WOMEN OF STEEL: THURSDAY JANUARY 21, 7 PM ANITA’S THEATRE: 264-270 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Thirroul, $20.00 AUD Admission + $2.00 booking fee = $22.00 *This screening has a Q&A session. All tickets are sold online at: https://fan-force.com/films/women-of-steel/


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Would you like to make a small donation towards the publishing of The Bulli & Clifton Times and/or the Looking Back websites? If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small donation here with your credit card. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.


About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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