Migrant Welfare Workers (1970-90s) and the Frontlines of Australian Multiculturalism

Migrant Welfare Workers (1970-90s) and the Frontlines of Australian Multiculturalism

The perspectives of ethnic-minority and migrant-background women are pivotal to understanding the history of multiculturalism as an access and equity issue.  This paper draws on oral histories conducted with welfare advocates and migrant women in Sydney and Melbourne, in combination with archival records and government funded reports on migrant industrial workers and welfare concerns from the 1970s to the 1990s. The research is part of a broader project that historicises the development of welfare and social service delivery to culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia, beginning with the perspectives of grassroots advocates and community welfare workers in the 1970s. In that economic and social context, they were concerned with: the availability of culturally appropriate and accessible occupation health and safety measures; workplace entitlements for migrant workers and their families (including workplace rehabilitation and compensation); and broader health (including mental health) care access for non-English-speaking background communities. The issues they tackled were complex and, in many ways, remain prescient nearly fifty years since the introduction of a national multicultural policy, and state multicultural bureaucracies.  

This event is presented in person and online. Zoom details below

Dr Alexandra Dellios is a historian and Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University. She teaches cultural heritage management and oral history, and has published on popular representations of multiculturalism; immigration centres and hostels; the intersections of migrant, industrial and labour heritage; migrant public history practices.

This series is an ANU-wide collaboration spearheaded by the Migration Hub @ ANU, in collaboration with the School of Archaeology and Anthropology

For online attendance, see Zoom details below
(Meeting ID: 865 5770 1787. Password: 836061)

No events are currently scheduled. Details of future events will be posted as they become available.

Date & time

Thu 24 Aug 2023, 3–4pm


Jean Martin Room, Beryl Rawson Bldg (#13) & Streaming Online


Dr. Alexandra Dellios, ANU Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies


Sverre Molland


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