• Entry type: Event
  • Entry ID: AWE2125

Migrant Women Workers Project

(1974 – 1975)


The Migrant Women Workers Project was, arguably, the first occasion when feminist concerns combined with ethnic rights multiculturalism to highlight the precarious position of women of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and the inadequacy of settlement services to assist them. The report produced by the project, ‘But I wouldn’t want my wife to work here…’: a study of migrant women in Melbourne Industry, drew attention to the plight of migrant factory workers in a sustained fashion that had hitherto been unseen. It also served as a vehicle for further involvement from the union movement in the struggle for equity for migrant women workers.


In 1974, the Fitzroy Ecumenical Centre supported preliminary research into the plight of migrant women worker in the clothing trade. The report of this project, A Preliminary Survey of Migrant Women in the Clothing Trade, came to the attention of Elizabeth Reid, who had been recently appointed to the position of adviser to the Prime Minister on women’s issues. Reid was also involved with the National Advisory Committee that was assessing the ways the government could observe International Women’s Year in 1975. She was greatly impressed by the research and pushed Des Storer, who produced the report, to come up with a proposal to develop it. Her support eventually led to the National Advisory Committee and the Secretariat for International Women’s Year allocating funds to the Fitzroy Ecumenical Centre (soon to be renamed the Centre for Urban Research and Action) to conduct more extensive research.


Published resources

  • Report
    • But I wouldn't want my wife to work here…:a study of migrant women in Melbourne industry: research report for International Women's Year, Centre for Urban Research and Action, 1976
    • A preliminary survey of migrant women in the clothing trade, Brown, Katrina and Storer, Des, 1974
    • Migrant Women Workers, Brown, Katrina, 1975
  • Book
    • The Origins of Multiculturalism in Australian Politics 1945-1975, Lopez, Mark, 2000

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Reid, Elizabeth Anne (1942 - )
  • Related Organisations
    • International Women's Year National Advisory Committee (1974 - 1976)