In August 1982, in the face of mounting unemployment in the Wollongong region, community workers from the City Council and the Wollongong Workers' Research Centre convened a meeting which established the Committee on Employment (COE) covering Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama. The first meeting of COE was attended by sixty people representing thirty community organisations including local welfare centres, environmental groups, Aboriginal representatives, the Communist Party o f Australia and various charitable organisations. The major impetus behind the committee was a proposal from the Wollongong City Council to establish a local development corporation to generate work in the region using the Hunter Development Board as a model for the Wollongong corporation. Community and labor movement activists, while realising the potential o f such an organisation were concerned that it be not dominated by local business interests. The corporation was formally established on September 10. A board o f about 20 was set up: 40 percent from industry and commerce, 20 percent from the trade union movement, 20 percent from COE, and 20 percent from local, federal and state governments. The following article is based on a discussion paper drafted and circulated by a working group o f the Wollongong Committee on Employment. It outlines the problems being confronted by the Wollongong region (and, by implication, by other heavily industrialised regions), and also suggests ways in which community and union activists can confront the spectre of unemployment.
Recommended CitationDonaldson, Mike, Confronting the Big Australian - Wollongong response to the steel cuts, Australian Left Review, 1(82), 1982, 18-29.