Episode 2: Deb Haygarth

Photo of Deb wearing black rimmed glasses and green top. She is smiling at the camera

An Independant Legacy

Artist, musician and social justice activist, Deb Haygarth, has been a fierce campaigner for women’s and workers rights since she was a teenager.

Born in South Melbourne, Deb’s childhood was underpinned by the societal shifting counterculture of the 1960s. The growing dissent from mainstream ideologies fuelled her feminist identity.

Deb lived and worked in the Newport milk bar, run by her mother, and attended a strict girls school. Her father was a wharfie spending time off and on pickets. Deb has no doubt that this is where she gained her passion for social justice.

At 15, she attended a ball featuring Helen Reddy. During ‘I am Woman’ Deb stood on an esky, her fist of solidarity raised in the air, catching the eye of the celebrated singer.

A proud unionist, Deb was part of the picket line on Swanson dock and protest marches in Melbourne during the national waterfront dispute of the late 1990s.

Deb carved a creative career, and despite an education system that denied her completion, she became the first female qualified screen printer in Victoria.

She subsequently became the leader of WDV’s Barwon Hub, where she inspired other women with disability to take part and take notice of social justice issues that affect them.

As her MS symptoms progress, Deb shares the potential loss of independence as something that looms over her. But an independence as fierce as Deb’s is everlasting.

Fighting against injustice and raising a fist in solidarity with the marginalised, is an essential part of her legacy, and a tribute to her activism.

I think I’ve always been a feminist. I really do. Even as a child. I’ve always been concerned for women.

Photo of Deb wearing black rimmed glasses and a green top. Deb is smiling at the camera.

Image description: Deb is smiling confidently. She has chestnut red hair, and blue-grey eyes, and is wearing black glasses, silver drop earrings, and a teal blue shirt.