Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Australia Post – Onward Speed (1970)

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clip Secretaries and executives education content clip 2

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

This segment addresses secretaries and executives and informs them of their responsibilities in the posting, receipt, sorting and delivery of mail.

Curator’s notes

This clip deals with mail management proficiency. With so much of today’s business communication handled electronically, it’s difficult to imagine the amount of paper that used to flow in and out of, and within large organisations. In the event that paperwork was lost, its replacement was far more difficult and time consuming than pressing a resend button. One lost letter could cause compound delays, so the competent administration and management of mail was of paramount importance to efficient businesses operations.

Jon Finlayson and Rhonda Finlayson play on early 1970s stereotypes of female secretaries and male executives, to get their message across. Even outside these stereotypes, however, it’s very clear that these jobs at the time were extremely gender specific.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip from a humorous instructional film made in 1970 by Fred Schepisi teaches secretaries and executives how to improve internal efficiencies in handling business mail. In the clip two actors (siblings Jon and Rhonda Finlayson) play multiple roles that caricature female secretaries and male executives. The actors demonstrate best and worst practices in sorting and handling business mail at an internal mailroom for a large organisation.

Educational value points

  • The stereotypes portrayed in the clip reflect gender expectations of work roles in 1970, with the female roles being secretarial and the male roles executive. While the number of women, particularly married women, in the workforce had significantly increased since the Second World War, work roles were still often gender defined. The Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986 attempted to improve this situation.
  • The creative vision of director Fred Schepisi (1939–) is evident in the clip. Schepisi adventurously chose a humorous approach to this training film, made early in his career, in order to engage the interest of the audience – business clients of the Australian Post Office. The youthful energetic ‘mod’ approach to the film is intended to make the potentially dull subject matter more appealing and therefore more memorable to the audience.
  • Although he has a speaking part, the presenter wears the make-up of a mime artist. Mime is traditionally performed in a theatre without words for comedic effect and is one of the oldest forms of theatre, with origins in Greek pantomimes. The purpose of the mime make-up here is to clearly signal the comedic nature of the film to the audience.
  • Iconic 1960s fashions are shown in the clip, particularly in the women’s style of dress. The female fashions shown here include beehive hairstyles, miniskirts, false eyelashes, floral fashion prints and a maxi-dress. The men wear suits, shirts and ties, reflecting the gendered expectations of dress of the time. The clip also depicts smoking in the workplace (notably only by the male actor) at a time when smoking at workplaces was still permitted.
  • This quirky offbeat training film aims to improve internal efficiencies for business clients of the Australian Post Office using humour and contemporary references. It tackles costly practices such as incorrectly addressing and posting mail. Equipment such as labelled mailbags and employee directories are demonstrated as saving time and expense in ensuring that mail gets to the right destination.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer Secretaries and executives from the sponsored film Australia Post – Onward Speed as a high quality video download.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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