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The Sixties at Wollongong: student affairs in a regional Australian university


The sixties were a time of revolution – sexual, cultural, spiritual, political and musical. The Beatles rose and fell, humankind reached the moon, the horrors of the Vietnam war were exposed amidst the threat of nuclear holocaust, millions died silently in China from starvation and Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and Woodstock revealed the power of this new ‘pop’ music. The United States largely took the lead in driving western societal change, and Australia followed, though in a somewhat muted and delayed manner. A snapshot of events during the sixties at the University of Wollongong – then the Wollongong University College – highlights some of the issues which filtered down to this then small regional campus located on the outskirts of Sydney. Influenced by the world around, and by the nearby metropolis, Wollongong was somewhat isolated from many of the pressures of the time, located in a seemingly idyllic coastal setting, though swamped by the everyday harsh realities of polluting heavy industry. Residents could afford to pick and choose what they would stand up and fight for, what they would take on board, and what they would ignore. The priorities may initially have been local, but by the end of the decade they were more easily mixed in with the global. For young people it was a time of wonder, change, apprehension and excitement, and the new university campus reflected elements of this change.