For love or money: First women's union


Reproduced courtesy of australianscreen online

Resource title: For love or money: First women’s union

Digital resource identifier: R7338

Resource description
This film clip looks at the plight of working Australian women in the late 19th century and the organisation of the first women unions.

Stage of schooling: Middle Primary

CCE focus: Citizenship in a Democracy


The clip features women at work during the 1870–90 Australian manufacturing boom, which drew thousands of women into factory life and outwork. Intense competition between manufacturers led to reduced wages, which were paid in ‘piece rates’. Students have the opportunity to explore working conditions for women in the late 19th century and to investigate the importance of industrial action in bringing about changes to workers’ conditions and the law.

Opportunities for Civics and Citizenship learning

‘For love or money: First women’s union’ provides opportunities for students to:

  • explore the historical evolution of workers’ rights and industrial democracy

  • understand the significance of women’s industrial action in an era where they lacked political rights

  • recognise that workplace participation is an element of civic participation

  • understand that social movements are an effective form of participation in democracies

  • investigate how campaigns for social justice have been important catalysts for democratic change.

Ideas for the classroom

  • Ask students to watch the film clip and complete an individual Plus, Minus or Interesting (PMI) chart on the plight of women workers in late 19th century Australia.

  • Ask students to share their responses with the rest of the class and consider if the women were justified in their actions.

  • Ask students to present an alternative list of actions that the women might have carried out to bring attention to their plight.

  • Ask students to form pairs to compare their knowledge of the rights of workers today with rights of the women shown in the film clip.

  • Ask students to consider the connection between democracy and social justice.

  • Ask students to form groups to create a poster or advertisement for democracy as a safeguard against exploitation.