Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pauline Mitchell 
An exemplary life-time of devotion to the cause of world peace. Still actively, tirelessly working for what she passionately believed in, right to the very end of her inspirational life. Those of us who were fortunate to know her, will never forget her. We are thankful for her extraordinary life. The world is a poorer place without her in it, but her spirit lives forever. 
Dear friend, Rest-in-Peace.

3CR was deeply saddened to learn that long-time programmer Pauline Mitchell passed away on Wednesday 20th March 2013. Pauline has been with 3CR since the very beginning of the station in 1976 and Alternative News was one of our first programs. Pauline was an inspirational figure and her loss will be greatly felt throughout the 3CR community and throughout the Left generally. 3CR would like to express its deepest condolences to her family, friends, comrades and listeners.

From Irene Gale, Australian peace activist:

Last night (Wed 20th March) our dear friend Pauline Mitchell had a massive stroke which caused her death.
A great many people all around Australia, and overseas, knew Pauline as a dedicated worker for world peace.  She was a highly intelligent, quiet, persistent and kind activist with an extremely wide knowledge on a wide range of issues.  

She had the ability to transmit this knowledge in an easily understood manner, and did this through the weekly peace program on Radio 3CR in Melbourne, and through articles in the “Peace 2000” magazine of the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament (CICD) which she produced for very many years.  Pauline was a long-time Executive Committee member of CICD and helped to run their office in Trades Hall.
Pauline also belonged to other peace organisations as well as CICD, and was always present at peace actions around Melbourne.  She often spoke to services at the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, explaining the effects of various political situations on world peace.
Pauline’s absence will leave a huge hole in the various organisations she was involved with and, indeed, for us all.

She will be greatly missed.
- Irene

From Pauline's daughter Kisten:

". . .She was a sweet gentle soul with a tenacious commitment to Peace and social justice that was extraordinary. I love her dearly, and am so honoured to be her daughter. My darling mother. . ."

". . .According to Doug, her grandson who lives with her, she was chirpy that morning before he left for work (she was telling Doug about the news topics she was going to get off the Internet that day for Alternative News). When he got home that evening he found her collapsed and not breathing. She was resuscitated by the ambulance crew, but was taken off life support a few hours later after her heart stopped beating. A scan revealed a brain hemorrhage, perhaps a stroke. Her kids and grand kids were there with her when she passed away, telling her we all love her, and hoping she could hear us and know that we were all there with her. After they removed the tubes and allowed us back into the room she looked beautiful, peaceful and at rest. Mum has donated her body to Melbourne University for research, so there will be no funeral as such. We are planning a memorial for mum in about a month's time. . ."    - Kisten

Pauline Mitchell 1



Pauline Mitchell

CICD Secretary Pauline Mitchell reflects on the past 50 years of the Campaign for International Co-operation and Disarmament.

The CICD celebrated it's 50th Anniversary in November of 2009, at a gathering in the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church.

From the NZ Peace Council:

On behalf of the NZ Peace Council, I want to send my deepest condolences on the passing of Pauline. Although we never met, I feel as if I have known her all my life. Pauline was one of those who has dedicated her whole life doing good things, and not just in the peace movement.

It is always sad to lose people like Pauline because wonderful and dedicated people of her calibre are few and far between. 
We shall remember her. 

Barney Richards
Gerald O'Brien 
NZ Peace Council.


Pauline Mitchell

The Guardian deeply regrets to announce the sudden death of Comrade Pauline Mitchell in Melbourne on March 20 age 82. Pauline is widely known, loved and respected for her work in the peace movement, media and women’s movement.


She recounted in an interview recorded on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Campaign for International Co-operation and Disarmament (CICD) that she first became involved in politics and decided to join the peace movement when she realised that her taxes were funding armaments.

Pauline is famous as the person who first alerted Australians to the establishment of the United States secret military intelligence base at Pine Gap.

In the 1950s Pauline lived in Alice Springs, working for the local paper the Centralian Advocate. She noticed the arrival of US Air Force engineers who brought a large caravan bristling with electronic equipment, a caravan that was out of bounds to Australian government employees. US planes were landing at Alice Springs airport with high ranking military personnel and heavy equipment, tractors and cranes on them. A friend told Pauline he was blindfolded one day and taken out to the US base to fix some equipment, then blindfolded and brought back to town again.

When Pauline moved to Melbourne in the late ’50s, she could not find any reference in any papers about the presence of the American military in Australia. But eventually she did get the story out through the Melbourne Unitarian Church.

For over 50 years Pauline was a leading member, worker, organiser and for a number of years secretary of CICD. Established in 1959, CICD is Australia’s longest serving peace organisation. Pauline was an influential leader and activist in the peace movement as well as being a political leader, maintaining the CICD’s strong working class connections and anti-imperialist political line.

Pauline’s Sunday morning broadcast on community Radio 3CR was one of the first programs that went to air when it was established. Alternative News has been produced every week since 1976 till the Sunday before her death. It had a large loyal audience of people who looked forward to her well researched and down to earth weekly news and commentary on politics, peace and social justice, using material from publications and organisations from around the world.

You only needed to listen to one of Pauline’s programs to realise how much information and facts could be fitted into 15 minutes in a presentation that was so clear and easily understood.
Pauline was in the CPA and became a foundation member of the SPA and then the CPA following the Party reclaiming the name. She remained a loyal member until her death. She never flaunted her Party membership but her allegiance was well known and her commitment to an anti-imperialist position in the peace movement was always rock solid.

Pauline was one of those Communists who, despite the many struggles and strains, dedicated herself 100 percent to the people’s cause for peace and social justice.

She continued to work in the CICD office three or four days a week up until at the age of 81. Last year she could no longer climb the stairs at Trades Hall in Melbourne. But even then she continued to come into meetings and she always did the radio program.

The Communist Party of Australia and The Guardian send condolences to Pauline’s family and her many comrades and friends. Her magnificent contribution to the struggle for peace and socialism is her great legacy. She will be sadly missed.

Pauline’s final contribution was that she donated her body to Melbourne University.

There will be no public funeral but a memorial service is being organised. Details will be put on the CPA website when available. A memorial article will appear in The Guardian following this event.   

From:  The Guardian - The Worker's Weekly
Issue # 1587.  March 27, 2013

    Brought to you by The Age


The Pauline Mitchell
Guest Book
This Guest Book will remain online until 25/04/2014 courtesy of Kisten McCandless.

Sign the guest book, share your condolences, 
or read the tributes to Pauline:


Memorial Celebration of the Life of 
Pauline Mitchell
 12th November 1930 – 20th March 2013
The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace

Saturday 27 April 2013, 
Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, 
Grey Street, East Melbourne.

MC: John Speight - Chair of CICD
Tributes to be delivered by:
Reverend Richard Wootton
Jan Bartlett
Hannah Middleton
John Speight for John Ellis
Kisten McCandless for Bruce McPhie
Pauline’s family
Slide Show

We were enriched by her down-to-earthness, dignity, 
commitment and humility. A great lady indeed.
(Joe and Rita Camilleri & Pax Christi)

Pauline Dorothy Mitchell (nee Redman)

Born in South Australia.

First job at Fauldings in Adelaide as a typist.

Went to Alice Springs in her teens where she worked for the Works and Housing Dept and the Centralian Advocate newspaper. 

It was in Alice that Pauline’s political awakening happened when, while working on the newspaper, she could not get answers as to what the large US military contingent was doing on the outskirts of the town. 

It was the secrecy surrounding the so called ‘weather station’ – the Pine Gap spy base – that got her started as an activist. 

Also, while working at the newspaper and reporting on a murder trial of a young Aboriginal man who was sentenced and imprisoned, Pauline’s eyes were opened to the absurdity of white man’s law being imposed on the Aboriginal nation that have their own laws. 

It was these formative experiences and the realisation that her taxes were funding armaments that compelled Pauline to become involved in politics and join the peace movement.  

She moved to Melbourne in 1958 where she was the first to alert Australians to Pine Gap at a meeting in the Unitarian Church. 

She was a foundation member of CICD and was active in it for 54 years up to her death. She was Secretary of it for many years. 

Her activities at CICD included talking at schools about peace and the nuclear menace, writing submissions, leaflets, speeches, newsletters, speaking at conferences, researching, writing and presenting the weekly radio program - Alternative News - on Radio 3CR since 1976 and before that on ABC Community Radio 3ZZ from 1974.

Married twice and raised two children and three step children.

An accomplished writer, speaker, pianist and a much loved mother and grandmother.

Some of Pauline’s activities and achievements include:

Made a Life Member of CICD in 1990.

World Peace Councillor.

Life member of 3CR.

Foundation member of the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA) now Communist Party of Australia (CPA) – a member until her death.

Member of Melbourne Unitarian Church and spoke regularly there.

Member of Union of Australian Women (UAW) & wrote and presented a monthly radio program for them on 3CR.

Recipient of the Eureka Australia Day Medal in 2006.

Helped form the Moorabbin Peace Group.

Involved in Save Our Sons.

Assistant Secretary of the Melbourne New Theatre.

Wrote plays, one of which won National New Theatre’s competition for best 3 act play. “Face of an Enemy” was about a platoon of Australian soldiers in Vietnam. It had a reading by the New Theatre during the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign.

Romina Beitseen:
Pauline was a very special lady and loved by everyone who knew her.

Jane Farrell:
Pauline was a selfless and tireless activist who always worked for the good of all. 
Her commitment was admirable, inspiring and unforgettable.

Maree Coote:
Pauline was always dedicated to the Peace Movement, and to my then young eyes, her passion and determination defined her.

Irene Gale:

A great many people all around Australia, and overseas, knew Pauline as a dedicated worker for world peace with justice for all. Her absence will leave a huge hole.

Burt Blackburne:
Her well researched radio programs will be missed but the inspiration she gave will encourage others to continue the struggle.

Allie Dawe:
She was inspirational for her unflagging commitment to her principles and how she worked for those in the world. Everyone who spoke her name did so with love and awe.

Brian McLure:

You are one of the "Good Ones", an inspiration and a real hero of mine.

Tribute from JOHN ELLIS, 
delivered by John Speight:

The following stories are just a few of the things I remember about meeting and working with Pauline. They are only a few and in no way cover her lifetime as an activist for peace.

Both Pauline and I were present at the inauguration of CICD in the South Melbourne Town Hall in 1959. Its original name was the Australia-New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament. International speakers such as Linus Pauling, J. B. Priestly and his wife Jacqueta Hawkes were among the speakers. 

However, another notable speaker who had been invited, the African-American Paul Robeson, was unable to attend as his passport, which had been taken from him during the McCarthy period, was restored and he was then travelling in Europe. But he did send a tape recording of the speech he would have given at the Congress. For me it was an electrifying presentation and was the catalyst that moved me to sign up with CICD.

In 1960 Robeson came to Australia and CICD gave him a reception. There is a tape recording of this event in our archives. Pauline is in one of the many photos taken with Robeson. 


Pauline was one of a small group of people in Moorabbin who came together and formed Moorabbin Peace Action. It was one of many suburban groups who bonded together to resist sending our troops to fight in the unwinnable war in Vietnam. Our meetings were always held at Pauline and Harry’s house. 

We were surprised when our Letters to the Editor were published in the local paper. As we soon found out, one of the sub-editors was very supportive of our actions. His name was George Coote and there may be a few people here who will remember George as a full-on character. He also took on the role as a counsellor for draft resisters.

Probably the biggest event we held locally was when Dr Benjamin Spock, an American paediatrician travelled Australia condemning the American War in Vietnam. While we filled the town hall with supporters we never expected a group from the Nazi Party to turn up outside. They were dressed in Nazi-style clothing and produced a huge flag with the swastika painted on it. Even the Federal Police who were there to check us out didn’t allow them to enter the meeting.

During the 1975 Federal election which unseated the Whitlam Government, Barry Johnston, who was an underground draft resister, stood against our sitting member, Don Chipp. Finding public venues for him to speak while on the run was challenging. However, we arranged to have him interviewed by the ABC-TV in our small lounge room – not an easy task with cameras and supporters cramming in. I took a photo of him being interviewed on our TV screen. Of course he was done like a dinner at the election.

In the early 1970s Pauline, Les Dalton and I asked for a meeting with the Minister for Customs, Don Chipp who’s portfolio took in the US Navy’s Omega Navigation system for nuclear submarines. As opponents of the base we wanted to tell Chipp of our fears of nuclear retaliation on US bases in Australia. 

We had only been seated when Chipp opened up with: “Are you communists?” We felt this was a tactic to steer us away from our mission, and we left his office.

On other occasions Moorabbin Peace Action distributed leaflets at our local railway stations during peak hours and of course pasted up our posters during the night. 

            In August 1975 CICD held its Hiroshima Day action by organising a two-day march from Frankston to Melbourne. It was an ambitious event but was quite successful. We stayed at billets in Moorabbin overnight and Moorabbin Peace Action held a very successful concert in a hall in Cheltenham. Of course, Pauline was very active in this event. On the following day we marched to the City Square along St Kilda Road and joined a huge number of protesters. After speakers we had a mass lie-in. 

            Thanks to Pauline and Bruce McPhie, CICD’s Alternative News radio program went to air, not on 3CR as many people might think, but on an experimental ABC community radio station, 3ZZ around 1973.

            There were many hurdles in setting up the station, not least by a motley group called People Against Communism. The station lasted about two years but was under such pressure from right-wing groups that the Fraser Government  closed it down.

Fortunately 3CR was, at this stage, doing test broadcasts and Bruce and Pauline carried on with the weekly Alternative News. Eventually Bruce moved to Vietnam and Pauline carried on alone. 

Of course she always typed her programs on a typewriter. But not only that she used quarto-sized paper, not A4. Those typed pages are now in the University of Melbourne Archives and are a tribute to her lifelong persistence and beliefs over many, many years.

These actions that I’ve spoken about are but a few that Pauline Mitchell was involved in over her adult life. In fact if I were to delve into research of an activist and an organisation like CICD in this country, I dare say that it would be difficult to find such a pair. 

Some 25 years ago when I retired I started to archive CICD’s history at Melbourne University Archives and have been successful in securing over 120 boxes of material. After the Vietnam war ended my interest in documentary photography shifted to world-wide nuclear issues and the environment.

I returned to CICD in 2008 to continue archiving events that CICD had been involved in during that interim period. While I was making progress it was becoming more difficult because while I was disposing of material, Pauline was into the bins digging out things that she thought would be still relevant. In other words she was an inveterate hoarder! 

After a visit by a couple of archivists from the university archives, Pauline had to agree with them that, yes, they would need to add another floor to their building. So I won that argument.

Another 50 boxes have gone to the archives and I estimate about another 20-30 will go before I finish.

I will always, always remember walking into CICD’s office one day a week around 9.30, sometimes walking behind Pauline as she pulled herself up the stairs to the office with her two hands. This was after walking from her home in Turner Road to the Highett station, not a small distance, then fighting the multitude on lifts at Central Station, then walking up the hill to Trades Hall, and finally using two hands to pull herself up those stairs. And in all kinds of weather, I mean . . . what a woman!  

Having read many biographies of other activists in this and other countries whose exploits make you gasp, Pauline Mitchell will always stand tall among them.

- John Ellis

Tribute from BRUCE McPHIE, 
delivered by Kisten McCandless: 

  To the Memory of PAULINE MITCHELL ~  

A message for Pauline Mitchell’s Memorial, Saturday April 27, 2013,
Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, from Bruce McPhie.

With the sudden passing of Pauline Mitchell, a truly remarkable and inspirational woman, so many fine words have been expressed by so many people, and she deserves every one of them. No amount of words can adequately express the sadness we feel at losing our dear friend, and the great loss to the world of a tireless campaigner for peace. Pauline was everything everyone has written or spoken about, everything good and decent, and so much more.

I first met Pauline Mitchell in Melbourne in 1970, in the heady days of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. For years, we worked together as close colleagues on many peace issues at CICD, until I took leave-of-absence in 1978. CICD, Australia’s longest serving peace organization, was established in 1959 as the Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament. It is now known as the Campaign for International Co-operation & Disarmament.  Remarkably, for over 50 years, Pauline was a leading member, worker, organizer and secretary of CICD.

I was always impressed by her intelligence, compassion, and her quiet determination to work for a better world of peace and justice for all. Pauline always retained a confidence in the importance and ultimate success of her work, despite all the hardships and ups and downs the peace movement faced.

Together, we presented the Alternative News each week on ABC Access Radio 3ZZ, from about 1973 until the station was forcibly closed down by the new conservative government in 1975, and then the programme transferred to Community Radio 3CR. I left in 1978, but amazingly Pauline continued the radio programme almost every single week right up until her death, despite her bouts of illness. Remarkably, she wrote and presented this radio programme each week for about 40 years. When anyone else would have long given up, Pauline never did. Such was her exceptional commitment and dedication.

Even after leaving Melbourne and CICD and “going bush” in 1978, and then moving to live and work in Viet Nam in 1997, we always kept in touch, and remained close friends, comrades and kindred spirits ever since. Every year, we would catch up for stimulating conversations over lunch, and I always looked forward to those occasions. Sadly, our last such happy occasion was just last November on my annual holiday in Melbourne. Although clearly Pauline was weakened physically by age and ill-health, she was still as mentally alert and focused as ever. Only in death would Pauline ever retire from her work for peace.

As well as the serious issues we worked on together, I will always remember Pauline for her wonderfully quirky sense of humour, which we shared. We clicked. Perhaps this was a necessary balance to the heavier subjects of war and peace that weighed heavily on our minds. 

Pauline would write these amazingly long letters, sometimes by hand, sometimes on her trusty old typewriter companion, and always on many sheets of foolscap paper. Her letters free-ranged over the important world issues of the day, but with lighter, funnier, crazy stuff thrown in for good measure. I always got a buzz when another letter appeared in my mail box or at the post office. I only hope that somewhere I have saved them, so I can go back and relive those very special memories.

Pauline would tell the story of how she first became involved in politics and decided to join the peace movement when she realised that her taxes were funding armaments, and when as a young woman she was concerned as she witnessed the establishment of the secret US military intelligence base at Pine Gap.

In the 1950s, she lived in Alice Springs, working for the local newspaper the Centralian Advocate. There, she noticed the first arrival of US Air Force engineers who brought a large caravan bristling with electronic equipment; a caravan that was out of bounds even to Australian government employees. US planes were landing at Alice Springs airport with high ranking US military personnel and heavy equipment, all shrouded in an atmosphere of secrecy and intrigue.

When Pauline moved to Melbourne in the late 1950s, she could not find any reference in any papers about this presence of the American military in Australia.  However, she got the story out through the Melbourne Unitarian Church, and so was perhaps the first person to alert Australians to the establishment of the secret US base at Pine Gap.  Pauline continued to present many well-informed and enlightening addresses at the Unitarian Church on various issues close to her heart.

Now, reading the many tributes to Pauline reminds me of just how remarkable, but self-effacing, she was. It is no cliché to say that she dedicated her life to others, and to the cause of peace, right to the very end of her life. Pauline was dedicated to her family, to her friends and colleagues, and to all the ordinary people of the world, even if they never knew her. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Pauline.

For those of us who were fortunate to know her, we will always remember what a unique and special person Pauline was. When some of the sadness subsides, we will take comfort in remembering the many positive and happy times we shared with her, and how lucky we were to know her in our life. We can also be thankful that Pauline was able to keep working on the things she truly believed in right to the very end, and was spared too much suffering. 

Finally, we can hope that the world will somehow achieve the peace and social justice that Pauline selflessly dedicated her whole life for.

Pauline ~ thank you for your life lived so nobly.
Dear friend, Rest in Peace.

Bruce McPhie
May 23, 2013.