Summary

Note: This object includes white superiority messaging. Such attitudes and beliefs are not condoned by Museums Victoria which considers them to be racist. Historical distance and context does not excuse or erase this fact.

Round badge issued by the Australian Timber Workers Union circa 1920. The union was formed from 1918, having previously operated since around 1900 under the guises of the Federated Saw Mill and Timber Yard Employees' Federation, the Federated Saw Mill Timber Yard & General Wood Workers Employees' Association, and the Amalgamated Timber Workers' Union of Australia. The Australian Timber Workers Union extended its coverage to workers in box and case factories, saw makers' shops, joiners' workshops, carpenters, implement workers and wood working machinists. This badge provides an example of the popular promotion of the White Australia sentiment which dominated Australian immigration policy after Federation and which was particularly promoted by unions.

The frequent use of a white map of Australia as the iconography for badges, medals, published materials and more, reinforced the desire of governments and organisations to create a trade-protected, white, predominantly British population. It also erases any presence of First Peoples and their rights, heritage, culture and sovereignty.

Physical Description

Round badge with decorative flourishes at top and bottom. Blue enamelling with white enamelled map of Australia, over which is inscribed: 'Australian Timber Workers Union'. The six states and symbols of tools of the timber industry.

Significance

This badge provides an example of the popular promotion of the White Australia sentiment which dominated Australian immigration policy after Federation and which was promoted by political parties, unions and organisations such as the Australian Natives' Association (a Friendly Society which provided benefits to its Australian-born members). These groups were staunch supporters of trade protection and immigration restriction. In the case of unions, it was in order to protect workers from imported labour, often paid at lower than award wages which then, they argued, resulted in taking jobs away from local workers. The use of the white map of Australia iconography, a common feature of medals, badges and stamps, reinforces the white Australia message. The museum holds few strong iconographic objects relating to the white Australia policy - this is a significant addition to the collection.

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