Joint media release: Broken Hill icon included in global World Heritage bid

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
The Hon Penny Sharpe MP, New South Wales Minister for Environment, Minister for Heritage

The Albanese Labor Government is today announcing plans to nominate Broken Hill Trades Hall to be recognised on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Australia will soon inform UNESCO of the addition of Broken Hill Trades Hall and Victorian Trades Hall sites to its World Heritage Tentative List, which is an important step toward World Heritage status. 

These two historic structures in New South Wales and Victoria have shaped Australia’s social and political history, housing campaigns for better working conditions for miners and their families, and for workers’ rights across industries.

The Broken Hill Trades Hall sits at the heart of the City of Broken Hill, the first town in Australia to be included on the National Heritage List in 2015 for its rich history and ongoing mining operations dating back to 1883. The hall is known as the first building in Australia to be owned and operated by unions. 

Now owned by the Broken Hill Trades Hall Trust, the site contains a significant collection of cultural materials, including strike materials and sporting memorabilia.

The bid for international recognition is being led by the Workers Museum (Arbejdermuseet) in Denmark, and is expected to also include sites in Finland, Belgium, Argentina and the United Kingdom.

The Albanese Government provided $1.2 million in the 2023–24 Budget to support both the New South Wales and Victorian governments in the trades hall nomination to the World Heritage List.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon Tanya Plibersek: 

“Broken Hill Trades Hall is an extraordinary building in a city with extraordinary history. 

“The first stone of Trades Hall was laid 125 years ago this year. It was the first building in Australia that was built and owned by trade unions. 

“Since then, Trades Hall has been a symbol of worker power, organising for better conditions, better wages, and a better life for everyone in Broken Hill. 

“Among hundreds of remaining workers assembly halls globally, Australia has not one, but two, that were identified for their outstanding significance and contribution to our society.

“Securing World Heritage listing status will help us to better preserve and protect these precious sites for our kids and grandkids.”

Quotes attributable to the New South Wales Minister for Environment and Minister for Heritage the Hon Penny Sharpe: 

“I am pleased to see the iconic Broken Hill Trades Hall getting the recognition it deserves, moving one step closer to securing UNESCO World Heritage status as part of a transnational bid.

“The iconic hall has been a symbol of the labour movement for over 100 years and was crucial in the fight for workers’ rights after the mining boom in western New South Wales during the late 1800s.

“It is important that we protect and preserve our state’s heritage, and we are working with the Australian Government to secure our most significant sites for years to come.”