Hundreds at feminist short film premiere

April 21, 2016
Two leading activists in the successful campaign for jobs. Photo: Jobs for Women

The first screening of the cinematic tale of women fighting for jobs at Port Kembla steelworks screened to 250 people at the Gala Cinema in Warrawong on April 17.

Set in 1973, The Women Who Were Never There tells a dramatic story, based on real events, of women who chained themselves to the front gates of BHP to protest the lack of jobs for women.

The film brings to life the drama of the women who took on Australia's biggest corporation in their fight for equality.

Sharralyn Robinson, from the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Lands Council, gave a welcome to country before the film was introduced by Janne Ellen-Swift, a leading activist in the groundbreaking events that inspired the film.

The evening's MC, writer and director of photography Jill Hickson, told the crowd: “The film was shot in multiple locations across the Illawarra and Sydney, and involved more than 100 people, including over 60 volunteer extras, 27 actors, and 15 crew”.

After the screening, many participants were thanked on stage, including three lead actors Rebecca Clay, Andy Leonard and Angela Ford, and Art Resistance and LundinStudio, two film companies that donated their services to the production.

Also thanked was the Jobs For Women Producers Group, who produced the film as a prelude to a full-length feature film based on the 1980's Jobs for Women campaign.

Chairperson of the Producers Group, Robynne Murphy, addressed the crowd alongside eight of the migrant women she campaigned with in the 14 year legal battle of 700 women which forced BHP to open its gates to women.

“We made this film about a daring group of women who laid the basis for the 1980s campaign, as a way to get support for the feature film. We now want to take this film to unions and other organisations and individuals to get funding and backing to make an amazing feature on the epic campaign that raged from the gates of the steelworks to the High Court — and won!," Murphy said.

The Women Who Were Never There will premiere in Sydney on June 3 at the NSW Teachers Federation, supported by the NSWTF and Unions NSW. Other screenings are being organised in Melbourne, Nowra, Lismore, Wauchope and beyond.

[To organise a screening visit or email It will be released in Sydney on Friday June 3 at the Teachers' Federation.]

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