Heroes of Holeproof: workers looking back, moving forward is an exhibition of film, photographs and stories of life and work and is a tribute to the 255 textile workers retrenched from the Pacific Brands’ Holeproof site in 2009. The exhibition will be launched at 2.00pm on Saturday 24 July 2010 at the Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne.

Produced by the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) and with the support of the City of Whitehorse, Swinburne Institute of TAFE, Box Hill Institute of TAFE, the Uniting Church in Blackburn, the Box Hill Historical Society, The State Library of Victoria and Pacific Brands, the exhibition commemorates the past workers of Holeproof following the closure of the manufacturing site and the company’s shift of production from Australia to overseas and the retrenchment of 255 textile workers.

The iconic Holeproof had manufactured in Melbourne since the early 1920s. Most retrenched workers had spent over twenty years of their lives working at Holeproof, with some having been there over 40 years. The stories are poignant and tell of humanity and a close knit community forged at work. 

The TCFUA engaged project artist Patricia Reid, photographer, Angela Bailey and filmmakers Tim Metherall, Amie Batalibasi, Andrew Ma and Russell Hawkins to work with retrenched workers to record and celebrate in film, photographs and stories their working life, family and community. The exhibition is curated by Jacquie Nicholls-Reeves from the Arts Space at the City of Whitehorse. This is a unique exhibition not to be missed.

Heroes of Holeproof will be launched at 2.00pm on Saturday 24 July 2010 at the Whitehorse Art Space, Box Hill Town Hall, 1022 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill. The exhibition will run until 29 August 2010 on Tuesday and Friday 9.00am-5.00pm and Saturday 12.00am-4.00pm

For further information about the project, contact:


Michele O’Neil

TCFUA National Secretary

Tel: 03 9639 2955 Mob: 0419 338 853


Helena Spyrou

TCFUA Project Officer

Tel: 03 9639 2955, Mob: 0419 339 259





Workers will be available for comment on the night of the launch




 Arts project helps rebuild lives after retrenchment

On 25 February 2009 Pacific Brands announced that it was closing down seven of its factories across Australia and retrenching 1850 workers. Holeproof is one of the seven factories that closed down its Australian production in September 2009. An amazing community of 255 workers from many parts of the world, now living in Melbourne’s suburbs would soon be unemployed. Many workers at Holeproof had given decades of service to the company. Iconic brands such as ‘Explorer’, ‘Holeproof Heroes’, ‘No Knickers’ and ‘Antz Pantz’ will no longer be made in Australia.

 A few months after the retrenchments were announced, the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA), with financial assistance from Pacific Brands, set up an Advocacy and Support Project to help workers get training, and support pre- and post- retrenchment in order to find sustainable employment and to engage meaningfully with their communities.

 From the TCFUA Advocacy and Support Project, emerged this Community Arts Project component, giving workers a chance to share their experience of working at Holeproof and to document the rich history that was created and shared at the factory in order to honour the story of their service to the industry.   

 The Photo Exhibition

Heroes of Holeproof exhibits a selection of photographs taken by Angela Bailey of ex-workers and their work at Holeproof as well as a selection of photographs taken by workers and a selection of historic photographs of the Holeproof factory at Deepdene in the 1930s and 1940s, which are part of a collection at the State Library of Victoria.

 The Stories

The exhibition also features stories told by retrenched workers about their life and work at Holeproof, which for some has spanned over 40 years. A strong sense of community existed at Holeproof, from the group working together on a day-to-day basis towards a common goal and over a number of generations. As they worked they shared stories, laughter and memories.

 The film

Workers were filmed both before the factory closed down and six months after they were retrenched. They participated in conversations about the work they did, their feelings about losing their jobs and the various ways they have moved forward since retrenchment. This film footage was made into a short film by Russell Hawkins.

 While this retrenchment has caused considerable economic and emotional difficulty for most of them, what has also been lost is the sense of community and shared sense of identity and focus that is gained by the experience of working together over many years.

 Now many workers face the prospect of uncertain and casual work. Dramatic reductions in tariffs and a globalised economy have led to an increase in the availability of cheap imported products and jobs being lost to cheaper labour markets.