Throughout the 1980s Hazel Hawke's voice struck a chord in the public ear. What she represented and the manner of her delivery was respected and accepted by bipartisan audiences. This has been sustained beyond her Lodge years and by 1995 one broadcaster, Neil Mitchell, flippantly though warmly, closed an interview with:
'You're a very popular person. Why don't we make you Governor General.' 
When Hazel Hawke entered the Lodge in 1983 she resisted 'an engineered view'  of the role. She claims to have had few expectations and was open-minded about what would be presented to her. From the beginning she did recognise it as a job, however, and looked toward where she felt she could make a difference and by implication where she felt her attitudes and values could be most relevant. 
It was widely regarded that Hawke embraced a significantly heavy workload.  Throughout her years in the Lodge she undertook some 60 Patronages.  Her profile became so prevalent and so regarded, that she was asked regularly by journalists and broadcasters as to her own political aspirations.
Hawke's speeches and writings reveal that she did not see things as naturally polarised, or black or white. She recognised that no one solution or answer was usually sufficient. Understanding came from probing and progressive thinking. Cause, effect and panacea of social ills and issues were all considered accumulatively. Yet while this may have defined her approach to life and learning it did not preclude her from being prepared to speak out, to share opinion and to take a position in a declarative manner. She was ever mindful to not directly address government policy, though she was prepared to offer thoughts and ideas regarding certain matters of social justice with relation to women, indigenous Australia, immigration, the environment and the broad spectrum of the disadvantaged. All of which were in some way on the government agenda in the 1980s.
Much that she espoused was underlined by the principles of a sense of fair mindedness and equivalence in society and the importance of having choice:
'Let us look forward to a future where there is real equal opportunity for women, where women may realistically choose - and I emphasise choose, not 'feel obliged' - to participate together with men in all walks of life, contributing talents for the benefit of all Australian society.' 
And, on another occasion:
'I have no doubts about our responsibility. The quality of our whole society is enhanced if all its parts are healthy and viable, so we could even choose to look at it in terms of self-interest that we work towards and contribute to a better life for everyone.' 
Fair mindedness had been fundamental in Hawke's upbringing and, if it had needed re-energising, this would have occurred during her time with the Brotherhood of St Laurence followed by her formal studies in Welfare.  Furthermore, she was a product of her own life's experiences as a wife and mother re-evaluating her worth and existence against a backdrop of burgeoning feminism in the 1970s. All of this had helped hone Hazel's values and opinions, which in turn helped her shape the position of 'Prime Ministerial Wife'.
The women's movement had many guises in Australia in the 1970s. Though not a member Hazel Hawke welcomed the impact of the Women's Electoral Lobby  and the resources to be found in self initiated 'sisterhoods or boilerhood" as she referred to them. For many in Australia the impact of community networks proved critical not only for women but for varied groups trying to mobilise change or recognition.
The parallel rise of political poster collectives in Australia in the 1970s played a critical role in illustrating the voices calling for change and recognition. Posters provided a means that helped to ignite and shape conscience and ideals. Some emanated from disaffected artists wanting to make visible their stand, while clients for national campaigns or community advertising commissioned others. Hawke's informed interest in the humanist and social themes of life, and her willingness or desire to make these central to her role in the Lodge meant that through her voice she can be seen to have had something in common with the bold and impassioned messages and imagery emblazoned on art posters across the country.
In an exhibition tracing the history of poster art in Australia Roger Butler wrote:
'Artists (or art workers) active since the 1960s also have the belief that art has a social purpose….Through their posters they seek to communicate knowledge about contemporary society and its structure, and to suggest ways in which it might be improved.' 
And former Collective Member and researcher Julia Church observed:
'Community-based organisations have carried new ideas across Australia, introducing concepts like disarmament, human rights, aboriginal land rights, feminism and gay rights into the vernacular. Cooperative presses have acted as a mouth-piece for these issues and they have been vital to the development of Australian literature and art, publishing the work of experimental writers and artists when commercial printers and publishing houses refused to do so. The presses have championed the right of people to shape their world.' 
The poster medium and the some times covert nature of its production afforded the artists greater freedoms in their use of language, imagery and ideology. By their very nature posters were designed and produced to startle. The predominant use of fluorescent colour or the red, black and yellow derived from the Aboriginal flag, was combined with provocative and sometimes witty annotations or cartoon style imagery. The posters in this exhibition have been selected in part for artistic inventiveness, stridency of their commentary or for their relevance to matters of public debate.
The rise of Hazel Hawke's public voice and her relationship with the media
When Hazel Hawke joined Bob Hawke on the dais upon the election of the Australian Labor Party on the 5 March 1983, there had been only minor indication that she would become a media savvy and influential advocate for critical issues facing Australia in the ensuing decade. Previously, it had been her shunning of the media that had been well documented, which on occasion, given the absence of her public voice seemed to be confused with an inability to have a public voice.
As Bob Hawke's profile strengthened during the tumultuous years at the ACTU in the late 1970s, the decision as to whether he would stand for the Federal Seat of Wills was analysed in the media. Hazel Hawke was repeatedly referred to as intelligent and media-shy. She had herself written to the Melbourne Age in 1977 seeking respect for the privacy of the families of politicians and public figures, which in action, despite its plea does not suggest someone shy of media.
It was not surprising that when Bob Hawke did decide to run for the Federal Seat of Wills in 1979 and the press 'leap frogged' him into the Prime Ministership, the focus on Hazel was how she would publicly handle this role. The question was asked of Bob before it was asked of Hazel.
'It's clear that Hazel - how shall I put it? doesn't have social pretensions. She derives her pleasures in very normal sort of way. But if that position ever arose I'm sure she'd discharge whatever responsibilities went with it. And she'd do it in a very, very unostentatious way.' 
At times journalist seemed bemused in their speculations:
'She wears earrings proclaiming "No Dams" counts feminist activists amongst her closest friends, meditates - and eats brown rice. On some subjects her views are more radical than those held by women half her age.' 
With regard to any misconceptions about her ability versus her will in the public role, Hazel herself made telling remarks some five years later in 1987 in an interview with ABC journalist Geraldine Doogue. Common to many assessments of Hazel by that time Doogue began by commenting on Hazel's 'growth' in the job. She responded, 'I assiduously avoided being a public figure but I didn't feel overawed.' 
Her occasional frosty handling of the media was respected. 'She answers the first two questions but then asks if the interview is about her or her husband. Her disdain shows that timidity will not be tolerated.'  Her stoicism in the face of drug use within her own family and her choice to confront it publicly through the media was widely praised.
'Although the pressure must have been tremendous, Mrs Hazel Hawke made the disclosure with dignity and composure, proving again, if proof were needed, that she is one of the heroic survivors of our time.' 
As the decade progressed she became what would now be termed a media darling. Hawke was invited and accepted to guest host the popular commercial program, The Midday Show, guest host the Michael Schulberger radio broadcast in Melbourne and write her own column for the Sydney Telegraph newspaper. Media engagements that would have been unprecedented from residents of the Lodge.
However, the earliest and most critical turning point in how she grasped the job and how she was received in it came with her formidable presentation to the National Press Club on the occasion of Australia Day 1984. It was this occasion (another first for a wife of a Prime Minister) that made many take note and in which she set the agenda for the issues that she was to address repeatedly and unwaveringly during her term in the Lodge in Canberra. 
A turning point: The National Press Club Address, Australia Day 1984
In response to a brief, the 1984 National Press Club speech is roaming in nature, moving between observations of life at the Lodge, revelations about her own her personal negotiations of being a wife and mother, and her view of politics and society. Critically, she singled out three issues on which she expanded; Welfare, Women, Aboriginal Women. She outlined 'the four powers' of relationship, resources, information and decision-making as being crucial for positive and creative living, so defined by the Action and Resource Centre at the Brotherhood. Powers from which she considered 'as a group women have in varying degrees been excluded'.
In the Press Club Address Hawke's comments on welfare are in essence didactic, perhaps as a residue of her recent academic studies, but there is no question to the conviction of her words:
'From the process of rehabilitation or learning to cope with and improve one's position of disadvantage, whether its physical or psychological or material, one must feel a participant and not that it is being done to one or for one by others. This gives a positive feeling of some power and control in ones own life.' 
In an earlier speech on The Spirit of Volunteerism  the seeds of this had been evident. She spoke of the confidence building virtue of volunteer work and its contribution to self-esteem. In her own experience voluntary work with the Brotherhood of St Laurence had led her to paid work and to higher study.
She returned to these ideas in numerous subsequent speeches. She advocated welfare as a global responsibility and linked it with the inestimable value of self-esteem, seeing this as the key to the improvement of one's position of disadvantage. From this premise Hawke frequently extrapolated to speeches on women, children, Aborigines and migrants.
In 1983 at the launch of a Seminar on Children's' Week Hawke stated:
'You will grow into added responsibility if your commitment and self- esteem are intact. Self esteem is important … there's nothing more debilitating for children than a mother who folds up or who becomes a martyr in the business of mothering.' 
In the Press Club Address she welcomed the Sex Discrimination Bill of 1984 while suggesting that in the longer term it would be preferable if such legislation weren't necessary.
'Of course there's been much progress since grandma's day, it seems to me though that real flexibility and choice will only come when the whole of society is comfortable with the attitudinal change which is necessary, and until that occurs, some battles are won and some are lost, but the war continues.' 
In 1988 on the day after the fourth anniversary of the Sex Discrimination Act, Hawke in an interview with Jane Singleton reiterated the sentiment of that day, 'Can't change attitudes with legislation but can give them a kick along.' 
Hazel Hawke was never fearful of an opportunity to address the status of women. Although she was later to describe it as 'entering the lion's den' in 1985 she addressed in Melbourne the Column Club on Women and Advertising. She was present for the launch of Fair Exposure, the Government Publication from the newly formed Office of the Status of Women and she spoke of women and employment at the launch of From Margin to Mainstream Conference Speech. Interestingly in this speech Hazel Hawke quoted Charlotte Pekins Gilman who in 1923 had written; 'Work is human. It is not feminine, though women began it. It is not masculine though men have taken it. But because men have kept women out of it for so long it has shared in the disadvantage of excessive masculinity.'
On Aboriginal Australia Hazel Hawke was arguably at her most impassioned and unrelenting. She did not mince words or beliefs with regard to the impoverished status of many in Aboriginal society and the impending conundrum of the Bicentennial in Australia. In the Press Club Australia Day speech:
'Today we celebrate the coming of non-aborigines to Australia - invaders is I suppose the stringent word.' 
Earlier she spoke at greater length:
'Its tragic to see the ramifications of the overlay of our white law. This includes of course the way we have legislated one of the most significant elements in their lives, the land in which they live away from their use. And therefore threatened their material survival and their spiritual fulfilment.' And,
'I hope very much that by 1988 when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of white occupancy of Australia, we relative newcomers will have developed a greater understanding of the historical process which has interfered with a viable, strong culture and therefore have a more sensitive and informed set of attitudes instead of a knee jerk emotional reaction to a dilemma in the too hard basket.' 
Community Initiative and the Poster Collectives in Australia
On many occasions Hazel Hawke spoke of the community as a 'very nourishing thing'. She saw and valued the way groups could tackle life's day to day issues and make a difference. Poster art in the 1970s and into the 1980s was borne of similar imperatives and idealism. Members of cooperatives and collectives banded together, practically to share resources and conceptually to share ideologies.
The poster as an art form in this period owed a debt to the 1960s where 'technological advances made mass communications more accessible. People now had the means to spread news, ideas and information that the commercial media would not broadcast or print.'  Throughout the 1970s this created an environment for change. Community newspapers, broadcasting stations, cartoons and posters cooperatives flourished. The cooperative model for presses and print workshops emerged not only for resource reasons but also as a means to promote skills to others. It was predominantly art school graduates who gravitated to the presses.
'Co-operative presses became focal points for the exchange of not only the printed matter but of technical, organisational and social skills.'
It was democratically conceived and intentionally non-hierarchical although Julia Church has reflected:
'Our expectations were very high, assuming we all showed an equal level of assertiveness, competence and honesty. And sometimes our youth and inexperience caused us to sacrifice individual sensitivities for what was seen to be the greater need of the collective, the community or the funding body. 
The evolution of poster collectives was organic. There was cross fertilisation of artists and presses. A number of individuals moved between or helped establish different workshops in and across the states. The early established Earthworks Collective of Sydney greatly influenced a number of presses in Victoria and the Progressive Art Movement of South Australia has been linked to the establishment of Canberra's Megalo and ACME Print through the transfer of individuals. The collectives were not confined only to major cities. Many regional centres such as Wollongong and Warnambool proved productive and influential. In Fremantle Praxis seeded the Poster Workshop and hosted several political poster exhibitions some of which were on a touring circuit of alternative art spaces. 
The Earthworks Collective became increasingly more political and specific in their agendas - Aboriginal land rights, gay and lesbian rights, the women's movement, anti-nuclear stance, the environment and unemployment. Earthworks Poster Collective 'reflected social concerns of the time ' and their posters are often inscribed with slogans such as 'Earthworks for the Good of the Community' and 'Another Social Reality by Earthworks Poster Collective'.
Roger Butler further outlines the imperative and immediacy that often drove the production of posters underlining their social and political intent describing the frequently underground nature of the activity:
'Pasted up at night around Sydney, these posters helped politicise a generation.' 
The poster collective pervasion was a product of a period and mobilised by social and political circumstance. By the Bi-Cententary in 1988 Julie Ewington in an essay for the significant Adelaide Festival exhibition Right Here, Right Now Australia 1988 was able to evaluate the importance of the activity of collectives and poster art in the previous fifteen years:
'Works in this exhibition contribute to the increasingly rich stocks of divergent imageries in contemporary Australian life, using both older and more recent cultural stocks in Australia, whether iconographic, emotional or political. But there is a special history which brought printmakers to their current degree of sophistication, which, as it were, prepared them for the demands of this Bicentennial year.' 
The scope and profile of poster art diminished as the 1980s progressed although some dedicated artists maintain their preferred print medium in their practice. Campaigns and artist driven messages are still abundant in the free post cards found in cafes across the country and sometimes on billboards. Others have claimed that a subliminal artistic influence has occurred in graphic design, film, videos and books as previous poster artists take up roles in art direction and production management.
With the benefit of hindsight it is possible to consider poster art as quite a raw and coarse form of political art, although this does not necessarily dilute its effectiveness, purpose or artistic worth and what it may have spurned. It is also possible to reflect that Hazel Hawke's relationship with the media and her attitude to her role was similarly formative, beginning tentatively and flourishing in a way that the Labor Party itself realised it exceeded expectations or understanding. A different benchmark was set.
When asked in 1994 about what might be a successful life or how would a successful life be measured Hawke claimed that she 'couldn't make a statement about that ' considering it too complex and then in her customary way scrolled through apparent opposites- positives, sadness's, difficulties, opportunities for growth. She claimed the worst thing is to be 'stuck' . Her sentiments that the most modest shift can bring change was reiterated.
Ten years earlier after the delivery of her 1984 National Press Club address when asked whether she saw herself as a family woman or career woman, she answered to considerable applause 'I don't classify myself'.  This is why one of the most profound effects Hazel Hawke had as a persona in the 1980s was that she led by example and offered a seemingly successful model for women who had previously felt alienated or denied by the women's movement. She was not an extremist but a person of substantial open views while managing to maintain and celebrate her status as a mother, wife, grandmother.
On a personal level it could be suggested that the role in the Lodge came to Hazel Hawke at an optimum time for her to be able to embrace it and bring to bear upon it an energy and hitherto unrealised potential. There was a coincidental synergy with the spirit of the times. There was a bearing of the soul of Australia itself as it came to terms with a hollow celebration and a maturing of its place on the world stage. Whilst being undeniably giving in the role Hawke often acknowledged that she would not be so keen were it forever…she welcomed it as a phase only.
Most revealing is the extent that issues discussed and which fuelled and were pictorialised by the poster makers then, remain relevant today, though the dialogue of today is possibly more controlled, cautious and classified for and by the media. Without Classification enables us to reflect upon this and to revisit the impact of Hazel Hawke as a significant voice of the 1980s and as a representative in the Lodge who refused to be 'engineered or classified'. The extent of her impact is yet to be fully measured and perhaps can only be in the context of consideration of many residents of the Lodge and comparative times in Australian history. Perhaps this is immeasurable, something that is implausible to quantify. Empirically, there seems a pattern of individuals for certain times and Hazel Hawke coincided with a time of considerable social growth in Australia. Notably she was cognisant of this and up to it.
From almost diametrically opposite points in the social spectrum of Australia - Hazel Hawke in the Lodge and the Poster Collectives dotted around the country in makeshift or recycled premises - each mediated distinct rites of passage in the freedom of speech and expansion of ideas for a generation of Australians.
Margaret Moore, Exhibition curator