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We Are Union VTHC
Victorian Trades Hall Council
The people's palace

Victorian Trades Hall Council is the voice of Victorians at work. We are an organising movement; coordinating the efforts of 41 affiliated unions and over 500,000 Victorian union members. Victorian Trades Hall Council is the decision making body of the Victorian union movement. A representative elected Executive Council meets monthly, but day to day campaigns, policy, and events are managed by the Secretary and two Assistant Secretaries who are elected by VTHC delegates.

Our Trades Hall is the oldest State Trades and Labour Council, and pre-dates our Federal union peak body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Trades Hall also coordinates with several Regional Trades and Labour Councils acting locally in Victoria’s regional centres.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council helps organise activities and campaigns with and on behalf of affiliated unions. Some of the work Trades Hall is regularly involved in includes:

  • Lobbying State parliament on legislation that affects the lives of working Victorians.
  • Coordinating Victorian campaigns on industrial, political and social issues.
  • Organising large rallies, marches, protests and other public events.
  • Providing strategic advice and support for unions on individual campaigns.
  • Communicating with the public and media about trade union issues.

cnr Lygon Victoria Streets 1889

Victorian Trades Hall c.1889

Victoria’s Trades Hall, rising grandly from the northern edge of the Melbourne CBD, is a national treasure and a symbol of the aspirations of the Australian people. For over 150 years the Trades Hall building has given form to dreams of a better life for working people and their families. It is not only the birthplace of organised labour in Australia, but also of Victorian Labor and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

After the successful Eight Hour Day campaign of 1856, it was decided that a ‘People’s Palace’ should be built as a monument to this victory and also as a forum for all union concerns. 

The first Trades Hall building, a modest timber structure that once stood just north of the current Lygon Street entrance, opened in 1859. It was financed by workers and built by their own labour, using local materials where possible.

In the early 1870s, plans were developed for a more substantial building. The foundation stone of the present building, designed by prominent architect Joseph Reed, was laid on 26 January 1874. Trades Hall became the headquarters for Victorian unions and was substantially extended during the 1880s as unions continued to grow.

Following the 1882 Tailoresses Strike, Trades Hall leaders also requested 14 acres of land in Lygon Street for what became the Female Operatives Hall. At the time, women were organising in amazing numbers, and in their own separate unions. These unions amalgamated with men's unions over time. The female operatives hall was demolished in 1960.

Trades Hall as we now know it was built in stages from 1874 to 1925, by the architectural firm Reed & Barnes (who also designed the Exhibition Building, Melbourne Library, Melbourne Town Hall and Rippon Lea). A multi-story extension was added in 1961.

As public awareness of our rich industrial and political heritage grows, so to does the interest in Trades Hall and other such monuments to the past battles for workers’ rights. The heritage value of this rare surviving structure, and the associated 8 Hour Day Monument, has been recognised by their inclusion on the Register of the National Trust and the Historic Buildings Register.

For more on our building's history, visit the Workers' Museum.

The Trades Hall and Literary Institute (THLI) is responsible for the care and management of the land and buildings of the Victorian Trades Hall.

The THLI committee of management comprises appointed trustees and the members of the Executive Committee of Victorian Trades Hall Council.



Ballarat Regional Trades & Labour Council

Union Square, 24 Camp Street, Ballarat Vic 3350
Phone: (03) 5332 3666 
Email: [email protected]

President: Cassia Drever-Smith
Vice President: Ross Kenna
Secretary/Treasurer: Brett Edgington
Assistant Secretary: Ron Woods

Bendigo Trades Hall Council

40 View Street, Bendigo Vic 3550
Phone: (03) 5443 5173  
Fax: (03) 5442 5961
Email: [email protected]

President: Marty Stradbrook
Secretary: Luke Martin 

Geelong Trades Hall Council

127 Myers Street, Geelong Vic 3220
Phone: (03) 5221 1712  
Fax: (03) 5223 1115
Email: [email protected]

President: Adele Welsh
Secretary: Anthony Anderson
Assistant Secretary: David Ball

Gippsland Trades & Labour Council Inc.

120 Buckley Street, Morwell Vic 3840
Postal Address: PO Box 240, Morwell Vic 3840
Phone:  (03) 5133 7684  or  (03) 5133 3313
Email: [email protected]

Secretary: Steve Dodd

Goulburn Valley Trades & Labour Council

361 Wyndham Street, Shepparton Vic 3630
Postal Address: PO Box 788, Shepparton Vic 3630
Phone:  (03) 5831 5331
Fax:  (03) 5831 3079
Email: [email protected]

President: Mark Owens
Vice President: Julia Italia
Secretary: Mark Tait (0419 747 741)
Assistant Secretary: Anthony Fullarton

South-West Trades & Labour Council

Shop 2, 103 Percy Street, Portland Vic 3305
Phone:  (03) 5523 4272
Fax:  (03) 5523 3358
Email: [email protected]

President: Brendan McMahon
Secretary: Paul Drew
Assistant Secretary: Mark Solly

North-East Border Trades & Labour Council

1/7 Thomas Mitchell Drive, Wodonga Vic 3690
Phone: 0417 543 585
Email: [email protected]

President: Virginia Mansel Lees
Secretary/Admin: Chip Eling

Sunraysia Trades & Labour Council Inc.

Postal Address: PO Box 930, Mildura Vic 3502
Phone: (03) 5022 1926
Email: [email protected]

Secretary: Bronwyn Hogg
Treasurer "Honorary": Diane Sutherland
President: Arthur Edge
Vice-President: Kayleen Brazulatitis

Victorian Regional Trades and Labour Councils Association
The Victorian Regional Trades and Labour Councils Association is the peak coordinating body for all Regional Trades and Labour Councils all around Victoria.

Union Square, 24 Camp street, Ballarat VIC 3350
Phone: (03) 5332 3666
Fax: (03) 5333 5602
Email: [email protected]

President: Virginia Mansel Lees
Secretary: Brett Edgington

Trades Hall staff photo 2021

Trades Hall staff photo 2021

Presidential Positions

President: Justin Mullaley
Senior Vice President: Ronnie Hayden
Senior Vice President (AffirmativeAction): Karen Batt
Vice Presidents (Affirmative Action): Madeleine Harradence, Belinda Jacobi
Vice President: Daniel Filazzola

Elected Officers

Secretary: Luke Hilakari
Assistant Secretaries: Amanda Threlfall, Wil Stracke

Central Office

EA to Secretary | Office Manager: Jo Cullen

Young Workers Centre

YWC Director: Felicity Sowerbutts
YWC Principal Solicitor: Oanh Tran

Campaigns Team

Lead Organiser Campaigns & Candidate School: Danae Bosler

Politics and Research

Chief of Staff: Danae Bosler
Politics and Research Lead Organiser: Ted Sussex

Communications and Digital 

Communications and Digital Lead Organiser: Edwina Byrne

Jobs & Training

Lead Organiser: Barbara Huggins

Women's Team

Women's Lead Organiser: Carolyn Dunbar

OH&S Unit

OH&S Unit Coordinator: Dominic Melling

Union Assist

Co-ordinator: Claire Mitchell