Workshop and Symposia


  • School of Business Members Meeting
    28th Mar 2014 Room 214/215, Economics and Business Building (H69)

    The Agenda for this meeting includes forthcoming talks, the Burren St. Archives, developing courses in business and labour history, research projects and forthcoming conferences.

    If you would like to become a member of the Group please contact Greg Patmore at

    Location: Room 214/215 in Building H69

  • Revisiting the devils decade: Australian Prime Ministers and the Great Depression
    28th Mar 2014 Room 214/215, Economics and Business Building (H69)

    Lis Kirkby, Work and Organisational Studies, School of Business, The University of Sydney, will speak on "Revisiting the devils decade: Australian Prime Ministers and the Great Depression."

    A full abstract and the biographical details of the speaker are below.

    If you are interested in attending please contact Andre Pinto at by noon on Wednesday 26 March as refreshments will be served.


    This paper focuses on the approach that three Australian Prime Ministers took towards managing Australia during the Great Depression and the forces that influenced them - Stanley Bruce, James Scullin and Joseph Lyons. The paper highlights the conflicting ambitions, aims and policies that made Australian politics in the 1930s, the 'devil's decade'.


    The Hon Dr Elisabeth (Lis) Kirkby OAM. BA(Hons) PhD was born in Lancashire (UK) in 1921 and went to school in Nottingham during the 1930s.

    She served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War Two. After her demobilisation in 1945, she joined the Birmingham Repertory Company under William Armstrong and later the Liverpool Repertory Company under John Fernald.

    After World War Two, Lis appeared in the first television play to be broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation and in 1951 was posted to the Schools Division of Radio Singapore. She lived in Kuala Lumpur during the British Military Administration (1953-1965) where she was employed by Radio Malaya and was the last British expatriate officer to be employed by Radio Malaysia.

    Arriving in Sydney in 1965 Lis made her first broadcast for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) that same year and between 1965 and 1977, was an 'on air presenter'. During this time she wrote and narrated radio features on many social issues and produced 'Learn Indonesian' from 1980-1981.

    In 1977 Lis joined the Australian Democrats and was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1981. She was the Parliamentary Leader of the NSW Australian Democrats and when she retired in 1998 was the longest serving Australian Democrat Member of Parliament. As an MLC, Lis was a member of the Standing Committee on Social Issues which investigated health issues, juvenile justice, employer - worker relationships. She also served on Committees examining the Police Integrity Commission and the Independent Commission against Corruption.

    Lis was a founding member of the Women's Electoral Lobby (1972), a member of the Greater Murray Area Health Service and served as a Councillor on the Temora Shire Council (1999-2003).

    After leaving Parliament, Lis was appointed to the New South Wales Judicial Commission (1999-2001) and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (2001-2004). She is still a member of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties and the Australian Council of the International Commission of Jurists.

    In 2009 Lis she graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Class 1 and after studying at the University of Sydney, successfully submitted her PhD thesis 'WILL WE EVER LEARN FROM HISTORY, the Impact of Economic Orthodoxy on Unemployment during the Great Depression in Australia'. Her PhD was awarded in 2014.

    In 2013, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (an NGO founded in 1951) honoured Lis with a Lifetime Achievement Award to honour her long-standing membership (1958-current) and her work as President (1976-1980).

    Lis was awarded an OAM in 2012 for her service to the Parliament of New South Wales, the community of Temora and the performing arts.

  • Australian-US Comparative and Transnational Labour History Conference
    8th Jan 2015

    Thursday, 8 January and Friday 9 January, 2015
    The University of Sydney, Australia

    Call for Papers

    Historians and other scholars have long recognized both similarities and differences in the labour experience in Australia and the United States. Both countries were built upon European expansion and settlement at the expense of native peoples. The Australian labour movement developed a vigorous Labour Party, while the US did not. Once robust, union membership in both countries has been in decline in recent years. Divisions based on gender, race and class have been significant in both countries. Movements in both countries exchanged ideas and individuals. While Australians have been interested in scientific management, and in the organizational strategies embodied in the Knights of Labour and the IWW, in the US the Australian experience with compulsory arbitration and labour politics has drawn significant attention.

    This conference aims to bring together historians and scholars interested in exploring the comparative and transnational dimensions of the labor history of both Australia and the US. We welcome both explicitly comparative papers and papers that explore the movement of people and ideas between the two countries. We also welcome proposals for papers that examine aspects of one country that lend themselves to comparison. We hope to encourage researchers working on similar issues in both countries to collaborate.

    We would like to receive abstracts (about 750-1,000 words with a list of references) by 15 April 2014 with authors being notified of acceptance by 15 May 2014. We then ask the authors for a full copy of the paper (6-8,000 words) by November 15 to allow for circulation to commentators before the conference.

    On the basis of the papers accepted for the conference we would be looking for publication either as a special issue of a journal or an edited book.

    We encourage potential contributors to contact us a.s.a.p. if they are interested in doing a joint paper with an Australian or US co-researcher.

    We will be seeking financial support to provide some assistance for US participants, particularly graduate students.

    Please send abstracts and brief cvs and any questions to Greg Patmore ( and Shelton Stromquist (

    Australian Society for the Study of Labour History
    Business and Labour History Group, School of Business, The University of Sydney
    Labor and Working Class History Association