Trades Hall statue honours the work of equal pay activist

Trades Hall statue honours the work of equal pay activist

A bronze statue commissioned by Victorian Trades Hall Council and A Monument of One’s Own was unveiled on May 30 outside the Victorian Trades Hall Council building, celebrating the legacy of one of Victoria’s most influential activists.

The monument titled Chain Reaction depicts Zelda D’Aprano, a historical union activist and feminist figure, who was mostly known for the iconic act of chaining herself to the doors of the Commonwealth Building following the failure to award equal pay in 1969.

Convenors of the statue hope that the monument will not only honour Zelda’s work and life but serve as a rallying point in the continuing fight for pay equity across all workplaces and industries.

Professor of History at La Trobe University and co-convenor of A Monument of One’s Own, Clare Wright OAM, said that the creation of the statue was “a critical act of commemorative justice”.

“By honouring Zelda’s work in this way, we honour all women who collectively have struggled for equal pay, wage justice and economic security,” Ms Wright said.

The project has been funded by union contributions and individual donations, with the Victorian Government also showing its support through the Women’s Public Art Program.

“Zelda is an important link in the chain of trade union women who have taken action over decades to advance the cause of women’s rights at work,” assistant secretary at Trades Hall, Wilhelmina Stracke said. 

“This is a place for Victorians to sit and reflect on the progress that has been made and consider their own role in building a more just and equal world.”

Chain Reaction has been created by Victorian artist Jennifer Mann.

The quote at the base of the monument reads, “Today it was me, tomorrow there will be two of us, the next day four and it will go on and on and there won’t be any stopping it”.

The monument was unveiled by Ms Wright, Ms Stracke and Ms Mann alongside Minister for Women Natalie Hutchins and former Prime Minister and founding patron of A Monument of One’s Own The Hon. Julia Gillard AC.

“We need to be bold and loud about the achievements of Australian women,” Ms Gillard said.

“I congratulate the team at A Monument of One’s Own for its determination to bring this vision to life and give more Australian women the recognition they deserve.” •

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