Litany For The Women’s Liberation Switchboard: Call Me


Little Latrobe Street

LOCATION: Former Women’s Liberation Switchboard, 11 Little Latrobe Street, Melbourne

Back in 1972, the Melbourne’s Women’s Liberation Office was located at 16 Little La Trobe Street, although meetings moved to bigger premises at 50 Little La Trobe Street a few years later. Here, feminists produced the newspaper Vashti’s Voice, which covered issues such as equal pay and abortion. The services of the Women’s Liberation Switchboard were as diverse and essential as women’s concerns at the time, and laid the foundations for many of the women’s phone and referral services that continue to this day. From domestic violence and rape to medical services and female carpenters, the Switchboard tackled legal, social and sociological issues that often fell outside of the remit (or attention) of mainstream services.

Izzy Roberts-Orr calls on the American poet, Anne Boyer, to open her poem “Litany for the Women’s Liberation Switchboard: Call me” and – with a Gertrude Stein-like insistence, not repetition – reminds us of all the times and ways and reasons we have had to call on services like the Switchboard. More importantly – she also reminds us of all the difficult, complex and wonderful stereotypes, challenges, celebrations and powers that collective action has delivered. We owe a debt to those who have come before, even as we are also in the middle of “unfinished business”. There is more yet to come.

Apologies that this site is likely to be under construction until 2021!



I watch the girls I watch conspire as they play and this is the seed of the crowd that could become later revolution or a party.
– Anne Boyer, ‘The Crowd’

Call me anytime
Call me to hold the picket line

Call me take back the night
Call me if you want to join the fight

Call me hurt and call me broken
Call me brash and too outspoken

Call me close, down to the wire
Call me darling to conspire

Call me summer, autumn, winter, spring
Call me opening your mouth to sing

Call me morning sun and freedom bird
Call me with the latest word

Call me a revolution, and call me a party
Call me when things are just getting started

Call me bossy and call me boss
Call me in the face of blinding loss

Call me battleaxe and call me bloody
Call me control over my own body,

Call me access to abortion, call me a force,
Call me no more rape and call me divorce

Call me the personal is political,
Call me intersectional or don’t call me at all

Call me straight, bi, queer and gay
Call me fair labour and equal pay

Call me ancient, call me heart,
Call me when you’re torn apart

Call me, call me, hear me roar
Call me numbers too big to ignore

Call me organised and call me wild
Call me equal education for every child

Call me trans, gnc and non-binary
Call me to knock down the patriarchy,

Call me goddess, call me 50 feet tall,
Call me if you need me to break your fall

Call me yes means yes however I dress,
Call me no means no wherever I go,

Call me anger, call me trust
Call me nothing about us without us,

Call me riveter, engineer, pilot driver,
Call me powerful, call me survivor,

Call me matriarch and call me witch,
Call me marching signs and banner stitch

Call me unfinished business,
Call me the future

This work is a part of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre collaboration, Silence Speaks, for Feminist Journeys, featured as a part of the 2020 Feminist Writers Festival.


Izzy Roberts-Orr

Author: Izzy Roberts-Orr

Izzy Roberts-Orr is a poet, writer, broadcaster and arts worker raised on Arrernte Country (Alice Springs) and Wurundjeri Country (Footscray) currently completing a book of elegiac poetry, Raw Salt. Izzy works in Maribyrnong with local artists, is a Co-Director of Broadwave podcasting network, and advocates for artists on the Collingwood Yards Board and Moreland Arts Advisory Committee. Izzy is a 2020-2021 recipient of the Australia Council Marten Bequest Scholarship for Poetry.

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