Kaye Lovett was involved in protesting against the Vietnam War and conscription through Monash University, and the Labor Club there. In this excerpt she talks about her experience in Ballarat, where she moved for a teaching position.
Kaye: Then in 1970, I was sent to Ballarat, Ballarat Tech, and it was right next to the School of Mines. Anyway, I was very good friends with Michael Hyde. You know, there was all this thing going on in Melbourne about the moratorium and great meetings where people went and spoke and all this sort of stuff – huge meetings they were. Anyway, Michael said to me, You should start a moratorium in Ballarat. I said, Really? Anyway, Jeff, who was my English coordinator – he was a lovely man – I spoke to him and I found out he was a minister in the church in Ballarat. And when the Vietnam War started, he spoke out against it. It was so much criticism of him he was forced out of the church. Anyway, he said, Oh, well, he’d get in contact with people that he knew. And there was I know a teacher at Ballarat Grammar, I think. We had a meeting to start up a moratorium committee in Ballarat, and it was decided that what would happen would be that there would be a statement put in the Courier, a fairly lengthy paid statement against the war, quite long and analytical, but the thing was to get people’s signatures. So we used to, you know, stand on the corner, outside the post office on Saturday mornings and gather signatures and things like that. And when – when it was eventually published in the Courier, well you can imagine – a small town – well, Ballarat was small, small town mentality; it caused incredible – I mean, people went through it to find who they knew had signed it, didn’t they. And also, there was going to be a line of conscience in the main street on the day of the moratorium – people standing there with placards. The people who ran the moratorium in Ballarat didn’t want to be so involved, you know, after that first one. So at a subsequent meeting, I was asked to take charge of the next moratorium. In relation to that – I’m not so sure on dates, whether I did this, you know, before the first moratorium or the second – but I remember going to see Allan Williams, who was head of the trades hall council Ballarat at that time, and of course, you know, they were very involved in opposition to the war. I was asked to address a meeting at the railway workshops that were then functioning in Ballarat. So I had to do this at lunchtime, right, I had to get a taxi from school where I was teaching. And I turned up and I hadn’t thought about it much, you know. And I turned up, and it was sort of really Monty Python ish, in a way. Because when I got there, there was this huge lines of men sitting on the ground with their lunch boxes. And there I was, and I was speaking to them, I’m sure I don’t know whether they were really listening to me or what. It was a bit daunting, I have to tell you that. I did speak.
If you know a Melbourne woman who protested against the Vietnam War, please leave a comment!