I’m thrilled to say that my current manuscript, BIRD and SHADOW, has been selected for the 2019 Screen Queensland/ QWC Adaptable Awards.

The story is inspired by a pioneering nurse in the early twentieth century. It dramatizes as lived experience, the successes of determined women in an unequal culture. Like Emma Miller, one of the best remembered Australian suffragettes of that time, she lives in Queensland and is a suffragette.

Miller’s work contributed to the right for women to vote in national elections under the Federal Electoral Act 1902, a world first. She was also a pioneering trade union organizer.

In 1917, the year Miller died, one of Australia’s most significant industrial actions took place. More than a hundred thousand workers protested throughout the country, with hundreds of women marching in from Sydney suburbs to confront parliament. It had started with a simple protest against the implementation of timecards for public transport employees (which meant easy dismissal for so-called ‘inefficient’ workers). It soon became a cross-industry national event with regular mass protests over a period of six weeks.

Strike-breakers were employed to address the Great Strike and a striker was shot and killed. Films of the strikes were censored.

The importance of this industrial action may have been diluted by the fact that it happened during a time of major upheaval, the First World War, but it is unfortunate that it wasn’t considered significant enough to be written into common history. (Some films have been resurrected and are being showcased during July-August 2017 at Sydney’s Carriageworks arts centre).

If Emma Miller were alive today, she would notice how much has been gained for her causes. But there is still a struggle ahead—with some arguing there has also been a backlash against women’s rights in the last three decades.

 

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