I called in to the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of …

Comment on Humble objects of women’s work used to ask big questions by Alex Nelson.

I called in to the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame (NPWHF) recently in the hope of finding a book that I’ve been seeking to read, and became aware of the new exhibition “What’s Work Worth?”
The book wasn’t available there, and is out of stock elsewhere but finally I borrowed a copy from the Alice Springs Library (which has a mostly female staff, and a long history of female managers).
It’s called “Healing the Heart: 60 Years of Alice Springs Hospital 1939-1999,” researched and written by former NPWHF manager Pauline Cockrill.
One aspect of the hospital’s history (and of the history of medical services beforehand) is immediately apparent – the dominance of the workforce by women, mostly nurses but several as doctors and some in senior managerial roles, too. Many of the women who worked there became significant identities of Alice Springs.
I recall an occasion as a primary school student, I think within the context of learning about work and careers, when my teacher (a nun, incidentally) suggested that maybe the government should be paying wages for housewives and mothers.
I remember being shocked by this radical idea, as I felt it would be impossible for the nation to afford it (this was the time of the economic recession in the Whitlam years) but it certainly awoke in me an appreciation of the amount of unpaid work that my mother and my classmates’ mothers were doing for us children.
All of the teachers and staff at my primary school were women, as were many (if not most) of the staff at the Alice Springs High School when I was a student there, too.
Another area in which women dominate in numbers in the workforce is in retail.
When I started working in a large supermarket 16 years ago, my boss (a woman) informed me the majority of the workforce in the company across Australia are women. So I was rather bemused when, as she assisted me with a digital company form I was filling out, she noted that questions asking for one’s gender invariably defaulted to female – and she wondered why.
This new exhibition at NPWHF will help play a part in generating an appreciation of the true worth of work performed by women, so much of it billed as “domestic”, under-rated and under-valued, but really is the bedrock of our societies. Thanks to Kieran Finnane for her fine review and a reminder to make time to take a close look of the display.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

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Hmm, is it Tweedledum and Tweedledee, or Heckle and Jeckle? Cartoonists could have fun with this double act.


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It’s worth keeping in mind that the council-owned lease for Anzac Oval extends over the car park area in front of the school.
The NT Governent-owned lease starts from the front of the main school building and extends through the rear of the campus, so it’s not as big an area as many probably assume.


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This utter debacle should mean that several heads will roll, from the Chief Minister down.
If this happened anywhere else in Australia, that is what would happen.
An absolutely disgraceful performance, and I predict it will get worse before this matter is terminated.


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While we navel-gaze at our own dire financial situation in the NT, a report just posted on the ABC News site states: “Since its recent peak in late-August, the local market has plummeted by about 12% — as investors grow increasingly concerned about an unresolved trade war, slowing global economic growth and the United States raising interest rates too quickly.
“Sentiment is as bad as I’ve seen it for a long, long time … the negativity is absolutely rife,” Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone, said.
“Ultimately, the market is concerned if we do see a resolution between those two nations [the US and China] … the damage has actually been done to the global economy and we’re hurtling towards a recession.
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That “we are going down as well” is us – Australia as a whole.
If recession is now on the cards, I think we can forget about assistance for the NT. The money is just not going to be there.
In my article “The forgotten lesson” I stated near the conclusion “currently both national and world circumstances appear decidedly tentative at best. We’re likely to find ourselves overtaken by events well outside of our control.”
At present it appears those events are now starting to overtake us.


Alice has hottest day on record
@ Fiona Walsh (Posted January 2, 2019 at 3:12 pm): Thank you, Fiona, for your most informative post.
The closure of the CSIRO in Alice Springs is, I consider, one of the most short-sighted and regrettable decisions ever made as far as Central Australia is concerned but typical of the myopia that afflicts contemporary coast-oriented bureaucracy.
Maintaining the presence of the CSIRO in the Centre would surely have been as vital in these times of worsening climatic conditions and consequent impacts on the environment as it ever has been in the past.
However, the loss of the CSIRO in Alice Springs is symptomatic, and certainly symbolic, of the lack of concern and real regard for so much of the real Australia.


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