Women of Steel, a rousing story about the 1980-1994 campaign by Wollongong women for jobs in the BHP-AIS steel works makes its Australian TV premiere on ABC TV PLUS on Sunday 6 March at 8.30pm.
Outraged at sexual harassment in the workplace and denied work at the local steelworks, a group of women banded together and launched what turned out to be a 14 year battle against Australia’s biggest company.
The personal story of the campaign sustained by Robynne Murphy and hundreds of other local women for the right to work at BHP is exciting, moving and often humourous.
Against a modern backdrop of ongoing issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination and unequal wages, the story still resonates and shows how far as a society we still have to go on the same problems.
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.
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 very first intake) when she became caught up in the Jobs for Women Campaign.
Evidence of the value and importance of the film are the numerous awards it has won since being released.
Women of Steel was included in the three shortlisted films for NSW Premier’s Digital History Award 2021 and was awarded the History Council of NSW’s 2020 Macquarie PHA Applied History Award. It was praised by the History Council judges for its informative, gritty, evocative and powerful presentation of history.
Women of Steel was 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, as a volunteer with her local RFS brigade, and was on the ground all through the 2019-2020 fires on the far south coast of NSW, while trying to complete the film at the same time.
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.
The Women of Steel trailer can be viewed at:
Women of Steel’s Australian TV premiere:
ABC TV PLUS
Sunday 6 March, 2022 at 8.30pm
Repeated Tuesday March 8th at 8.30pm