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Statue of iconic equal pay protest to be unveiled
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Statue of iconic equal pay protest to be unveiled

A bronze statue depicting an iconic act of protest will be unveiled Tuesday 30 May on the corner of Lygon & Victoria streets, outside Victorian Trades Hall Council. 


The work was commissioned by Victorian Trades Hall Council and A Monument of One’s Own. The project has been funded by union contributions and individual donations, with support from the Victorian Government through the Women's Public Art Program.

The monument depicts Zelda D’Aprano, a union activist and feminist, who chained herself to the doors of the Commonwealth building following the failure of the Arbitration Commission to award Equal Pay in 1969. 

The monument, by Victorian artist Jennifer Mann is titled “Chain Reaction”. The work seeks to honour Zelda within the context of women's activist history more broadly. Zelda stands alone, but landscaping around the site invites visitors to literally stand with Zelda.

Quotes attributable, Wilhelmina Stracke, Assistant Secretary, Trades Hall

“Zelda D’Aprano was a feminist activist and trade union legend. Moved to action by witnessing injustice, she and her trade union sisters took direct action for gender pay equality.”

“Her exploits as an activist are legendary. She organised women to ride trams and pay only 75% of the fare, she joined pub crawls protesting women’s exclusion from hotel front bars, and contributed to the organising of Melbourne’s first pro-choice rally”. 

“But by far her most iconic action was chaining herself to the Commonwealth building to protest the Federal Arbitration Commission’s failure to deliver equal pay. On that day she told a journalist “Today it was me, tomorrow there will be two of us, the next day four and it will go on and on and there won’t be any stopping it”.  

“Zelda is an important link in the chain of trade union women who have taken action over decades to advance the cause of women’s rights at work. This is a place for Victorians to sit and reflect on the progress that has been made, and consider their own role in building a more just and equal world.”

“We are proud that in the last years of Zelda’s life, Zelda began to get the recognition that she so clearly deserved from our movement. It was a privilege to stand next to her with thousands of ASU women in the campaign for the SACS Equal Pay test case”. 

Quotes attributable Professor Clare Wright OAM, Professor of History, La Trobe University and co-convenor of A Monument of One’s Own.

“The creation of this statue of Zelda D’Aprano is a critical act of commemorative justice in Australia, where less than 4% of statues depict women.” 

“Zelda’s famous action in 1969 saw her occupying public space in a way that was counter to the prevailing norm of women as silent, demure and inconspicuous.  It is fitting that she will now occupy a permanent space in our civic landscape, a reminder that women have always had to fight for the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.”

“By honouring Zelda’s work in this way, we honour all women who collectively have struggled for equal pay, wage justice and economic security.”

Media event: 

The statue of Zelda will be unveiled at 8.45am Tuesday 30 May 2023 outside Victorian Trades Hall Council, 54 Victoria Street (Lygon street side). 

Media Contact: Edwina Byrne 0409017140

A Monument of One's Own: Kristine Ziwica 0421492799