Labour History

In Pursuit of Union Leadership: Mary Bluett and Susan Hopgood and the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association, 1973-95

Labour History (2013), 104, (1), 131–148.

Abstract

This article focuses on Mary Bluett’s and Susan Hopgood’s paths to leadership in the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association (VSTA) during the period 1973-95. It considers their role as activists in the transformation of a union and an occupation, which was to have far-reaching effects on the wider society through the state education system. The circumstances that propelled them into union activism are examined as well as a consideration of the importance of their family background, the commitment to social justice and their exposure to feminism from an understanding of the power structures in society. Their collective and strategic approach was developed in the women’s caucus, the Open Sub-Committee on Women (OSCW) which was established in 1974 in the face of strong opposition within the union. The development of the union’s affirmative action policy provided women such as Bluett and Hopgood with the opportunity to reach positions of leadership in the VSTA and later in the Australian Education Union (AEU) at both branch and national level.

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Footnotes

*The author would like to thank the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor their comments and suggestions. Google Scholar

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31.Ibid. Google Scholar

32.Ibid. Google Scholar

34.Ibid. Google Scholar

35.Ibid. Google Scholar

36.Ibid. Google Scholar

40.Ibid. Google Scholar

43.Ibid. Google Scholar

44.Ibid. Google Scholar

45.Kirton and Healy, “Women and Trade Union Leadership,” 6. Google Scholar

46.Kelly, Women in the VSTA, 4, preface. Google Scholar

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60.Eveline and Hayden, Carrying the Banner, 12. Google Scholar

61.Claire Kelly, interview with author, February 5, 1998. Google Scholar

62.Mary Bluerhad teaching experience in the country before completing her Arts degree and Dip. Ed. at Monash University. She was president of the Monash Association of Students. Google Scholar

63.Mary Bluer, “Policy for Women: Mary Bluer Comments,” Secondary Teacher(September1974):7. Google Scholar

64.Shelley Lavender, interview with author, March 25, 1999. Google Scholar

65.Ibid. Google Scholar

66.Kelly, Women in the VSTA, 7. Google Scholar

67.Bassett, Matters of Conscience, 147. Google Scholar

68.Mary Bluett, “Sexism in Education: A Discussion Paper,”Australian Education Union (AEU) Archives. Google Scholar

69.Kelly, Women in the VSTA, 26. Google Scholar

70.Eveline and Hayden, Carrying the Banner, 103. Google Scholar

71.Bernice Kelly, interview with author, May 23, 1999. Google Scholar

74.Anna Stewartwas a former journalist and active Victorian union official from1974to 1983. She died tragically in 1983, aged 35. She was a foundation member of the ACTU Womens Committee, which was formed in 1977. Google Scholar

79.Ibid. Google Scholar

80.Mary Bluett, “VSTA Council Farewells Brian Henderson,” VSTA News 15, no. 28(1994): 4. Google Scholar

81.Ibid. Google Scholar

82.Anne Phillips, Engendering Democracy(:Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), 20. Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Francis, Rosemary