Robynne Murphy of Nelligen has a hidden talent other than her well known and appreciated commitment and duties of being an RFS volunteer.
She is also the director of Women of Steel, a rousing documentary about the 1980-1994 campaign by Wollongong women for jobs in the BHP-AIS steel works.
The film is a finalist in this year’s $10,000 Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival and will be screened online continuously from June 10 th to 21 st , 2020 and tickets are available to the public via www.sff.org.au.
Those who know Robynne today may not be aware of her 30-year career as a steelworker but her jobs at the Port Kembla plant included welder, crane driver, and hot strip mill operator.
Women of Steel is the exciting, moving and often humourous story of how she and hundreds of other local women campaigned for the right to work at BHP.
It takes us into a now forgotten episode in Australia’s history when ordinary women banded together to overcome discrimination and oppose the biggest and most powerful company in Australia.
Robynne Murphy left a promising career as a young filmmaker when she became caught up in Wollongong’s 1980-1994 Jobs for Women Campaign. The documentary she made then about her small hometown in rural NSW was also chosen for the Sydney Film Festival. And that was in 1974 - a long time ago.
That her next documentary was again selected after a forty-five year absence from filmmaking is a testimony not only to her talents but also to the exciting nature and historical importance of the events that the film portrays. Today, Robynne continues to work in a non-traditional job but has time as a volunteer in her RFS brigade. She like so many others was on the fire ground all through the 2019-2020 fires, something no one on the Far South coast will ever forget. Remarkably, thanks to scores of volunteers and 500+ donations, she still managed to finish the film! Robynne told The Beagle "the peace and quiet of Nelligen was exactly what was needed to be able to complete the project".
WOMEN OF STEEL
A rousing documentary, many years in the making, that follows a group of determined local
women in their 14-year fight for the right to work in Wollongong’s steel industry.
Above: Roza Klujaricek, Slobodanka Joncevska and Fotini Voulgaris leaving work at the Port Kembla steelworks
Forty years ago, Wollongong’s Jobs for Women Campaign, with director Robynne Murphy among its leaders, took on Australia’s most powerful company BHP — and won.
But when the 1980s steel slump devastated the city’s economy, the women were forced into the courtroom.
Their struggle plays out against a background of societal changes: from anti-discrimination
legislation, to the shifting roles of women in the home and workforce (particularly complex in
Wollongong’s migrant, non-English speaking households).
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.
Above: In her 30-year steel working career, Ms Murphy was a welder, crane driver, and hot strip mill operator at the Port Kembla steelworks
Robynne Murphy (above) was selected for AFTRS’s first intake. As other students moved into feature films, Murphy started a thirty-year career at the Port Kembla steelworks before beginning this documentary.
Women of Steel trailer:
Tickets $14 and discounts for groups of ten available at www.sff.org.au
Screened online from June 10 th to 21 st , 2020