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Tracking Welfare Debates in the Dardalis Archives, a Snapshot: Women and Families and the AGWS

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This paper was prompted by a fairly innocuous document found in the Dardalis Archives—a long list of the (mostly female) volunteers for the Australian Greek Welfare Society in 1997, and an account of the Welfare Unit’s work in helping women and families over that year, much of it achieved through volunteer labour. Since the early 1970s, the AGWS offered direct social service delivery, community education, community development work and policy development, in conjunction with government programs and grants, for primarily Greek-speaking populations in Melbourne. It also made massive contributions to policy debates and public discussions about multiculturalism and the nature of social welfare in Australia—Greek-Australian women, in particular, played a key role in these debates and in direct social service delivery. The Dardalis Archives contains documents that attest to their impact. This paper will explore, firstly, why and how these archival materials pertaining to the AGWS and other welfare efforts are important; and secondly, what kind of histories we can tell with these archival materials. At the very least, they enable researchers to track the nature of ‘ethnic’ welfare debates from the 1970s to the 2000s, and the changes made to social services.

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Dr Alexandra Dellios is a historian and Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University. Her research considers the public and oral history of migrant and refugee communities, their experiences of settlement, and working and family life. She has published on: child migration; popular representations of multiculturalism; immigration centres and hostels; the intersections of migrant, industrial and labour heritage; public history practices, and cultural heritage management in Australia.

  • LANGUAGE English
  • CATEGORY Panel Discussion
  • PRESENTED BY The Greek Community of Melbourne