Congratulations & Farewell Sharan Burrow – Sharan’s Story

Australian Workers Film Guide


Sharan’s Story is a short documentary charting Sharan’s personal and professional history, combining interviews with archive footage and stills. The archive features Burrow speaking at rallies and in the media, covering topics such as affirmative action for women, the Your Rights At Work campaign and unfurling banners at the MCG, becoming head of international trade union movement, at the COP15 climate change meeting, as well as footage of Julia Gillard signing in the government with Governor General Quentin Bruce, and the paid maternity campaign.

Notable still images include Burrow with world leaders, unionists, politicians and celebrities, such as Angela Merkel, Al Gore, Bono, Jennie George, Joan Kirner, Paul Keating and Peter Reith. Fragments of interviews include Peter Burrow when he met Sharan, Dave Robson on Burrow’s inclusiveness and how she is always going somewhere, Joan Kirner on how Burrow turned Paul Keating into a feminist, Greg Combet on Burrow’s fight for women’s issues and Don Henry on Burrow’s understanding on the challenges of climate change.

In function speech, Sharan Burrow addresses the audience, beginning with acknowledging the fortitude and strength of indigenous peoples. Talks of her family heritage in labour movement and how her mother was a moral compass. Burrow praises the achievements of Gough Whitlam, before outlining her career as a teacher, union delegate, union organizer, senior official of NSW Teacher’s Federation, president of the AEU, and president of the ACTU. Burrow believes in a common cause and shared values and that unions have been critical to the success of Australia. She then pays tribute to Greg Combet, before outlining achievements of the union movement – affordable childcare, paid parental leave, an end to AWAs, unfair dismissal protection, safety net of awards and collective bargaining rights. Burrow highlights the important job of sending John Howard packing and the need to win the next election. Burrow praises the work of other women union leaders, praises Joan Kirner’s work in the Labor Party for women, praises Bill Kelty, MUA mates and firefighters. Her speech is concluded with a presentation of flowers by two firefighters in their firefighting clothing.

Special Notes/Achievements

Published on disc 1 of the Congratulations & Farewell Sharan Burrow DVD – a collection of speeches, interviews and a short documentary in tribute to Sharan Burrow, on her departure from the ACTU as President, taking up a position as President of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 5 mins 45 secs

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