Since 1988, the various branches of the Society have organised biennial conferences of great interest to both academics and non-academics, focusing on a variety of themes and issues of concern to the labour movement and wider society. The branch was founded in the early 1960s by political and industrial activists, with support from academics. That combination has sustained labour history in Melbourne for over 50 years, encouraging projects that are both historically analytical and actively engaged in the movement’s continuing work for ordinary people.
The 10th National Conference, held at the University of Melbourne on 4-6 July 2007 continued that tradition. Centred around the broad theme of Labour Traditions, the conference offered papers, talks and forum discussions on a range of topics involving presentations from leading scholars, reflective activists and those who are still making our collective history, as they speak. John Faulkner, Robert Ray, John Cain and Wally Curran spoke at a forum on how the labour movement has conducted its internal debates over issues large and small. Terry Irving organised a session on Popular Movements for Democracy in Early Australia. Verity Burgmann assembled some very engaging speakers to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the IWW in Australia. Phillip Deery organised an impressive array of people to talk and argue about the Cold War. The blend of scholarly research and direct engagement in a field is reflected in the presentations on workplace health and safety by Yossi Berger, Ray Markey, Greg Patmore and Bill Shorten.
In addition to sessions on these special topics, there were numerous informative and engaging presentations on individual subjects, ranging from Bobbie Oliver on apprenticeship to Paddy Garrity on trade unions and the arts.
Donna Dwyer’s report on the conference was published in the November 2007 edition of Labour History. Details on the Program for the Labour Traditions Conference can be downloaded here.
Julie Kimber, Peter Love and Phillip Deery (eds), Labour Traditions: Proceedings of the tenth national labour history conference, held at the University of Melbourne, ICT Building, Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 4–6 July 2007, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History –– Melbourne, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-9803883-1-2. pp. iii-224.
Conference organising committee
Verity Burgmann (University of Melbourne)
Phillip Deery (Victoria University)
Julie Kimber (Swinburne University)
Peter Love (Swinburne University)
Stuart Macintyre (University of Melbourne)
Sean Scalmer (University of Melbourne)
The committee is indebted to Jackie Dickenson (University of Melbourne) and Gabrielle Murphy (University of Melbourne) for their assistance. Our thanks also to Margaret Walters and Nick Irving.