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Frontiers of Labor: 5th National Labour History Conference Perth, October 2–4 1997.


Sally Quilter


“I don’t come from a University, I’m one of those community/trade union/political activists with an interest in Labor History”: this was my catch cry as I was approached by different people at the Conference. I should explain further that this Conference was, as I understand it, a ‘typical university’ conference, very unlike the nursing conferences I am used to. Nursing conferences have drug companies paying for the lunches, they are always held in conference rooms in hotels and everyone is dressed in suits; it’s all very formal and usually all women. This one was informal, with about 150 people, lots of them men, held in the Alexander Library Theatrette and in the surrounding buildings, with a culture all of its own, i.e., academics and aspiring academics giving papers on left-wing issues, with a number of ‘other’ people. I was part of the ‘other’ people.