Hear Our Voices – Women of the West Speak Out

Panel 1: Introduction and Acknowledgements


Hear Our Voices is an exhibition produced by the Living Museum in 1999 about the lives of several women in the western suburbs and their contributions to the society they lived in.

The producer of the exhibition, Helen Laffin, has looked at women in the west in a range of occupations and with a range of talents. Helen worked with local writer, Enza Gandolfo, who was writing about the achievements of local women. Many of the stories in this exhibition are taken from Enza Gandolfo’s work.

The exhibition was an important step in presenting the issues that are important to a range of local women and hopefully extends our understanding of the local cultural context. Generally the women in this exhibition have taken an important role in making decisions on local issues.

Helen has spent considerable time working with local women to give us an insight into how many areas women in the west are involved with.

This is an electronic version of the earlier exhibition developed on panels which has been converted to appear on our web site.

The original exhibition was funded by ..
Visions of Australia
Lance Reichstein Foundation
Stan Willis Trust
Arts Victoria


Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West would like to thank Enza Gandolfo for her unpublished manuscript about women of the western suburbs of Melbourne ‘Not A Working Class Hero – Women From The West Of Melbourne’. She had spent many hours talking to women in the western suburbs about their lives and the Museum felt that there should be some opportunity for some these stories to be heard.

‘HEAR OUR VOICES’ recognises that the issues for women in the community are state wide. Australia wide and world wide. This exhibition looks at the issues that are significant for women who live in an area that is highly industrialised and has a diverse ethnic population. We hope that, by touring this exhi­bition in the future, women in other states will be encouraged to develop their own exhibitions and become involved in their community when they see areas that need improving.

The contribution of women in the community is vital and important. The needs of women who live in and with a diverse ethnic population include support in establishing life in a new country, access to information, and acknowledgement of their experiences by others, to name a few. In other similar areas elsewhere in Australia, women will recognise many common issues. The shared experiences of women from working class regions across Australia are not often acknowledged.’

Helen Laffin 1999