Australian Industrial Relations Commission


Nauru House, 80 Collins Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000

G.P.O. Box 1994S, Melbourne, Vic. 3001


Tuesday, 15 April 2003




Media Release: Women and the Commission Exhibition



An exhibition focussing on women Members of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and a number of key cases affecting women workers was officially opened in Melbourne today.


The Women and the Commission exhibition is the second to be staged by the Sir Richard Kirby Archives and features a range of historical material including photographs, correspondence, campaign materials, Commission records and an oral history interview.


“Like many other Australian legal institutions the Commission’s early history was created and shaped almost exclusively by men,” Commissioner Dianne Foggo said today in opening the exhibition.


“The first women to be appointed to the Commission in the 1970s not only provided a fresh perspective to the institution, but also acted as role models for women throughout the industrial relations field generally.”


In its near century-long history the Commission - and its antecedent bodies - has seen the appointment of 20 women Members. The first, The Hon. Elizabeth Evatt, was appointed by the Whitlam Government in 1973.


The exhibition features materials from a number of key cases including the equal pay cases of 1969 and 1972, maternity leave in 1975 and family leave and carers’ leave in 1994/95.


A video interview with The Hon. Judith Cohen and Ms Pauline Griffin, two early women Members of the tribunal is also included.


Chairman of the Commission’s Archives Committee, Senior Deputy President Brian Lacy, said it was important to preserve the recollections of Commission Members so that the work of the tribunal could be brought to life for future generations.


“The Commission, and its predecessor bodies, has a rich history. It is a part of the fabric of the Australian landscape of government, institutions, workers and their employers. The Sir Richard Kirby Archives was established late last year as an important mechanism in capturing and reflecting that fabric,” he said.


The exhibition will run until 14 June 2003 and is open by appointment.