Worker cooperatives champion, Race Mathews’ important new book ‘Of Labour and Liberty, Distributism in Victoria 1891-1966’ hits the shelves this month with an official launch by former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks on 26 April.

Written as a doctoral thesis for Catholic Theological College, Melbourne and the University of Divinity, Mathews’ book tells the story of the development of the cooperative movement in the Australian state of Victoria.
The book is a stunning tribute to the role of Catholic individuals and groups over the course of this history. In particular, Mathews notes the seminal impact of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum, and the role of English Cardinal Henry Manning, both of whom also had a great influence on Cardijn.
In the Australian context, these ideas were taken up by Sydney Cardinal Patrick Moran, who was a great defender of worker rights, and Archbishop Daniel Mannix in Melbourne.
The Campion Society also played a significant role in these developments, including Kevin T. Kelly, a key figure in the arrival of the YCW in Australia.
Later, however, the Melbourne YCW played a critical role in the actual concrete development of cooperatives in Victoria, particularly through the role of Ted Long.
Mathews also highlights the development of the worker cooperatives in Mondragon in Spain’s Basque region, which were created by Fr Jose Maria Arizmendiarretta, who worked closely with the JOC study circles in the town.
Race Mathews’ new book is an important contribution not only to labour and cooperative history but also the history of the YCW.

Get the book

Race Mathews, Of Labour and Liberty, Distributism in Victoria 1891–1966, Monash University Publishing, 2017.


To be launched by The Hon Steve Bracks AM
When: Wednesday 26 April, 6pm for 6.30pm
Where: National Union of Workers (NUW) Headquarters, 833 Bourket Street, Docklands
Cost: Free event, but please RSVP to Sarah Cannon.

Melbourne Symposium: Cooperative enterprise, democracy and liberty
When: Friday 28 April
Where: The Kelvin Club, 14-30 Melbourne Place, Melbourne
With speakers Race Mathews, Godfrey Moase (NUW) and Melina Morrison (CEO, BCCM) and more to be announced.

Race Mathews and Barry Jones in conversation
When: Wednesday 3 May, 6pm for 6.30pm
Where: Readings Bookshop, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

Co-operatives Research Group Symposium
When: Friday 5 May, 5pm-7pm
Where: The Refectory, The University of Sydney Business School, Darlington
Cost: Free event, but please register online by 2 May via the University of Sydney website.

Public Conversation: Race Mathews and Bishop Vincent Long
When: Friday 16 June, morning
Where: Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University
More details to follow.

By Editor

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