News & Events

Melbourne communist Olga Silver moves to Rushall Park

April 28, 2019

Rushall Park has been home to many actors over the decades, but it’s also had its share of political activists and veteran Melbourne communist Olga Silver is perhaps one of the better known.

Olga moved to Rushall Park in 30 June 1993 and then to Liscombe House in 2013.  She died on 23 January 2015 aged 98 and her passing was marked by a large gathering in Clifton Hill.

Born during the dark days of WW1 in Whitfield, country Victoria, Olga went on to become influential in the Communist Party Australia (CPA), a feminist and dedicated community worker. She was also wife to Charlie Silver, who she met when helping form Friends of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and mother of Peter, Lloyd, Michael and Bronwyn.

Olga and Charlie were both members of the Communist Part of Australia and remained active most of their lives.  Olga was an active opponent of war and worked hard to support organisations she was a part of, whether it was political or her children’s school.

In the 1940s when the CPA had been made legal again, following an earlier ban by Menzies, Olga organised benefit events. Around the same time she was busy working to have combustion heaters installed in her children’s school.

Historian and author Carmel Shute wrote in an article for Labour History Melbourne, that:

This sort of political work, making real changes in ordinary people’s lives, was to be one of the enduring characteristics of Olga’s life. She read and thought a lot and always contributed to debates, but was never an ego-driven speech-ifyer. Between work, politics and family, Charles and Olga lived a packed and passionate life. At their large Edwardian house, Olga created an impressive garden and threw wonderful Christmas garden parties for the Hawthorn CPA Branch. Olga was a mainstay of the annual Tribune Fair, churning out bottles of much sought-after lemon butter and potting much of the stock for the plant stall.
 
To read Carmel Shute’s full account

Photo: Olga Silver. Image from Carmel Shute’s article, About History Melbourne.

“Our home has always been a place where family and friends are welcome.  Our cottage at Rushall Park is no different and the community of friends here is important to us and that’s why their work is part of my art box,” Jennifer Barden said.

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