Mettle tested, battle won

Women who humbled BHP celebrated in film

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Women of Steel reached final 10 of Sydney Film Festival $10,000 Documentary Prize.

GIANT SLAYERS: Roza Klujaricek, Slobodanka Joncevska and Fotini Voulgaris leave work at the AI&S steelworks in Port Kembla.

GIANT SLAYERS: Roza Klujaricek, Slobodanka Joncevska and Fotini Voulgaris leave work at the AI&S steelworks in Port Kembla.

Women of Steel, a rousing story about the 1980-94 campaign by Wollongong women for jobs in the BHP-AIS steel works, is touring Australia for the first time.

The personal story of the campaign sustained by Robynne Murphy and hundreds of other local women for the right to work at BHP is exciting, moving and often very funny.

The film will make its union premiere at the ACTU Activist Conference on November 18 before travelling around the country.

Women of Steel is directed by 30-year career steelworker Robynne Murphy, whose jobs at the Port Kembla plant included welder, crane driver, and hot strip mill operator.

It is an important and now sometimes forgotten episode in Australia's history and Murphy left a promising career as a young filmmaker (she was selected for AFTRS's first intake) when she became caught up in the Jobs for Women Campaign.

Women of Steel has been awarded the History Council of NSW's 2020 Macquarie PHA Applied History Award and was praised by the History Council judges for its informative, gritty, evocative and powerful presentation of history.

It was recently a finalist in the $10,000 Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival. It was Murphy's second film to be featured in festival; her first was in 1974.

Women of Steel is also a finalist in Best Documentary - History and Best Documentary - Social & Political Issues categories of the 2020 ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Awards.

That Murphy could return to film-making so successfully after so many years is a testimony not only to her talents but also to the exciting nature of the events that took place in Wollongong during the 1980s.

Today, she 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 2019-20 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.

The Women of Steel trailer can be viewed on YouTube HERE and Facebook HERE.

From November 19, you can catch Women of Steel in the cinema as the film premieres around Australia or watch the virtual screening:


November 19: Gala Twin Cinema, 204 Cowper St, Warrawong, Port Kembla; 7pm. Includes Q&A after the film. Tickets here


November 25: Village Cinemas, 181 Collins Street, Hobart; 7pm. Tickets here.


November 26: virtual screening; 7pm. Tickets here.


November 26: Palace Cinemas, Raine Square, 300 Murray Street, Perth; 7pm. Tickets here.


November 27:Palace Cinemas, The Barracks Shopping Centre, 61 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane; 7pm. Tickets here.


December 2: Arc Cinema, National Film & Sound Archive, 20 McCoy Circuit, Acton; 6pm. Tickets here.


December 7: Event Cinemas, 505 George Street, Sydney; 7pm. Tickets here.