The Melbourne Branch notes with sadness the death of Helen Davis. Described by Senator Kim Carr as ‘a committed activist at the industrial, political and community levels’, Helen lived a life of firsts. After starting work with Mistral Fans in 1970, she became a shop steward with the male dominated Amalgamated Metal Workers Union (AMWU). It was a position she would hold for more than eleven years. In 1981, Helen became the union’s first female organiser, and later a ‘foundation member of the Engineering Skilled Trade Board’. Helen excelled in fighting for, and representing, the members of her union for over twenty-one years.
It was not just the union which benefitted from Helen’s dedication. Her activism encompassed numerous other issues including campaigning against domestic violence, supporting state education and improving community health facilities. An ALP candidate for Preston local government she went on to become the first woman elected to that council, a position she would hold for 16 years, and which included two terms as Mayor: again a first for a woman in the area. Awarded life membership in the ALP, it seems appropriate to end again with Kim Carr’s description of Helen: ‘She was a comrade – strong, independent and forthright, yet staunchly loyal to the collective’. To her family, our deepest sympathies. Kim Carr’s obituary was published in The Age on 4 April.