Ross House,
2nd Floor 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000 
Telephone/Fax: (03) 9 654 7409
Email: office@uaw.org.au

abn: 14 515 549 136

 

President: Anne Sgro
Secretary: Cath Morrison

 

HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

When the UAW was formed in 1950, the dominant view was that women's place was in the home, with children. At the same time women were welcome in the factories as a source of cheap labour. There was no day-long child care. Whole suburbs were without kindergartens and libraries. Equal Pay was opposed. Contraceptive advice was difficult to obtain. Abortion was a crime. Indigenous Australians were not citizens and White Australia ruled supreme. The Cold War was at its height.

The women who founded the UAW had grown up in an Australia of hard times, of deprivation and loss, arising out of two world wars and a devastating economic depression.

The UAW founders wanted a world which minimised the risk of war through disarmament and a society where wealth and opportunity were more equally distributed. They were prepared to work publicly for their goals, not just by attending meetings, writing letters and lobbying politicians, but by making themselves visible on the streets.

Our photo gallery shows some of the members and activities over the years.

Their activism made the UAW members unusual in a society which expected women to confine their interests to the domestic sphere. Some UAW goals such as enhanced status for women, higher living standards, improved welfare and public infrastructure were shared by many Australians. Other UAW aims were far ahead of public opinion, including the right of women to work,fertility control, equality of indigenous Australians and opposition to the White Australia policy. Their calls for peace and international friendship were considered subversive.

In persistently challenging the policies of governments and business the UAW members became effective activists and during that latter part of the 20th century their numbers grew.

Their steadfast pursuit of reform has not faltered and although the organisation is smaller today, its ideals and core values remain relevant. The campaigns of today may focus upon different specific issues but there is a common thread- improvement in the status and well being of women in Australia and the wider world.

The UAW is a member of the Equality Rights Alliance (formerly WomenSpeak) , linking national women's groups in Australia.  Membership of ERA has been crucial in maintaining links with old and new allies across the women's sector.

The UAW has continued to lobby and speak out for women, peace, social justice and democratic rights. We have continued to speak out about asylum seekers, particularly those who are incarcerated on Manus and Nauru, urging an end to offshore processing, and a commitment to humanity and decency, particularly as both major parties continue the mantra of supposedly saving lives at sea. We have campaigned, often with others, for the freeing of children and their families, and a recognition of the reality of 60 million displaced people worldwide. We are concerned at the increasing inequality in our society, and the social implications of government attacks on those least able to carry the financial burden. We continue to be concerned with violence against women, gender inequity, housing and homelessness,  and indigenous wellbeing and recognition.

Our UAW functions (held throughout the year and listed in What's On) - such as Coffee with a Focus and casual lunches for members provide an opportunity to exchange views and information -and our monthly Newsletter keeps members up to date with issues of relevance and importance to women.

The UAW will continue to campaign, to collect signatures on petitions, to  write letters and make submissions to ensure that a progressive feminist voice is heard

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