NSW Premier’s History Awards shortlist Women of Steel

“Compelling and important”


Women of Steel, a rousing documentary about the 1980-1994 campaign by Wollongong women for jobs in the BHP steel works has been one of three projects shortlisted for the prestigious 2021 NSW Premier’s History Awards $15,000 Digital History Prize.


The personal story of the campaign sustained by the film’s director Robynne Murphy and hundreds of other local women for the right to work at BHP is exciting, moving and often humourous.


The judges commended the film as a powerful combination of historical material and noted that “one of its many strengths is that it lets those who were there tell the story. These are voices we rarely hear and see on our screens. As much as it is the history of a particular campaign, Women of Steel is also a portrait of broader societal change. A compelling and important work.”


Recently, Women of Steel won the Macquarie-PHA Applied History Award from the History Council of NSW, was a finalist in two categories of the 2020 ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Awards and likewise 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 when she was a student at the Australian Film Television & Radio School. While colleagues Gillian Armstrong and Phillip Noyce went to Hollywood to make feature films, Robynne went to Wollongong to make steel. She worked in the steelworks for 30 years.


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 and historically important 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 truck for her RFS brigade and was on the 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.


2021 NSW Premier’s History Awards $15,000 Digital History Prize (formerly the Multimedia History Prize) is for an Australian historian’s interpretation of an historical subject, using non-print media.


The Women of Steel trailer can be viewed at:


Website: https://www.womenofsteelfilm.com/

YouTube: https://youtu.be/-22E8ltWs-M

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