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Home > Collective Isolation Project, week 5: On the frontline

Collective Isolation Project, week 5: On the frontline

Women in yellow dresses queue at a supermarket
22 May 2020

COVID-19 is an invisible enemy, fought on a range of frontlines by workers we've always recognised as essential: nurses, doctors and paramedics.

They're joined by others whose services are also, right now, acknowledged as indispensable: cleaners, checkout operators, shelf stackers, rubbish collectors, delivery drivers, teachers and childcare providers. 

As a small gesture to those who are presently keeping us safe, healthy, clean and fed, we ask you this week to create a portrait of your COVID-19 heroes.

Share your portrait in words or pictures at our Facebook Memory Bank group and tag us with #SLVMemoryBank.

About this collection item

This image shows an army of female workers ready to bag groceries at Coles New World supermarket in Greensborough, at a time when a loaf of bread cost 20 cents and cigarettes were sold on open display.

A disproportionate number of workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis are women. Australian statistics indicate that women make up 80 per cent of healthcare workers, 95 per cent of aged care employees, 72 per cent of the education sector, 60 per cent of retail staff and 72 per cent of primary carers.

The Library's Coles Myer archive contains over 30,000 items tracing 150 years in the corporate history of this iconic retailer. The archive commands an impressive kilometre of storage space in our off-site collection store, and its rich array of artefacts (including share registers, architectural drawings, film reels, samples of wares and minutes) offer a valuable social, economic and cultural record of a changing Australia.

How to respond

Please feel welcome to respond as creatively or literally as you wish.

We collect all kinds of materials including photos, diary entries, letters, written lists, oral histories, poems and objects ... our collection policy covers almost everything you could imagine, so try us!

If you contribute, we may contact you to discuss collecting and using your images, stories, objects and experiences. We may not be able to accept everything, but we will endeavour to do so! With your permission, your contributions may be added to the State Collection or used in future Library programs.

About The Collective Isolation Project

The Collective Isolation Project aims to cement this current moment in history, and is our inaugural Memory Bank campaign.

Find out more about Memory Bank, including details about how to contribute each week.

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