An Australian Merchant Seaman’s Story In His Own Words – Elaine Brennan

Australian Workers Film Guide


Part of a series of interview segments produced by the SUA/MUA in which retired Australian merchant seamen recount their working lives at sea as well as their engagement with union campaigns and activities. Each episode features a seaman, or sometimes a pair of seamen, sharing their story in a largely unstructured and extended interview. They form an important on camera collection of oral histories about Australia’s unionised merchant seamen.

In this episode Elaine Brennan, the wife of seaman John Brennan, recounts their life as a seafaring family.  John began work at 16 in 1942. The accommodation was crowded and the food average, although BHP was better than most.  Elaine discusses union disputes with the ship owners and remarks how seamen ended up getting good amounts of money when retiring.  Elaine worked 26 years in the union office and describes it as the highlight of her life.

Special Notes/Achievements

Picture and sound quality is low given low budget production.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 23 mins

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Film Director: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

Film Producer: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

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Film Cinematographer: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

Film Editor: Jennie Finch, Jamie McMechan,

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