Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Called to Serve, Shunned as Citizens: How the Australian Women’s Land Army Was Recruited and Abandoned by the Labor Government

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2019), 117, (1), 135–158.


The establishment and contribution of the Australian Women’s Land Army (AWLA) during World War II was welcomed by farmers. At that time prime ministers and premiers, along with a range of politicians, labelled their work as a vital war service, applauding their efforts as enabling Australia’s victory. However, in 1945, and following the war, key political leaders turned their back on this appreciation, denying the AWLA access to post-war benefits and services. This paper documents the reasons for the work of the AWLA from 1942 to 1945 and traces how the Labor Government in 1945 dismissed their contribution. It argues that to a large extent, this responsibility for denying the women the recognition and benefits that had been promised was a betrayal of the women they had called in to service.

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Author details

Gartshore, Heather