Quote taken from The Age Green Guide March 24 2005

…the story of the op-shop ladies is a thoroughly engaging half-hour that avoids didacticism and lets the story unravel with a minimum of fuss.

Review from
By Mark Freeman

The Op Shop Ladies of Emerald Hill
But whilst The Silent Scream typified the problems some had with finding a particular focus or story, these were in the minority. For the most part, St. Kilda featured a range of assured, confident and provocative documentaries, the best being The Meat Game (Shannon Sleeth, 2001), Breath of Fresh Air (Antony Balmain, 2002) and The Op Shop Ladies of Emerald Hill (Cath South and Stewart Carter, 2003). Here were three documentaries that took their basic subjects – slaughterhouse workers, chroming and the running of an Opportunity Shop respectively – and found greater narratives within, beneath, around them. While Ozolins' The Collection gives us a woman's obsession with videotape and leaves that as the only entry point, these others found a range of problems to face and issues to unearth. The Meat Game takes its central subject, a young boy earning a living at the meatworks in Poowong, and slowly uncovers a story far richer than we might expect. Less an investigation of a gruesome occupation, The Meat Game spreads out to take a snapshot of a small town community that is essentially trapped by its own size. Both Sleeth and the directors of The Op Shop Ladies work to create communities, a sense of place, and find the core of their subjects by pushing beyond the obvious attraction of their surfaces.

Review taken from
The Communist Party of Australia

TV Programs worth watching

The Op Shop Ladies Of Emerald Hill (ABC 8.00pm Tuesday) is a different kettle of fish altogether. An affectionate study of two women who have given 40 years of service in their local charity shop, it is tinged with bitterness and anger as the gentrification of South Melbourne places the shop's continued existence under threat.

The area may have gone upmarket, but as the current manager points out, cutbacks to social security and other government policies of a like nature mean that there is greater call for the charity's services than ever before.

The Op Shop belongs to the Community Chest, a charitable organisation with no equivalent in Sydney as far as I know. The Community Chest raises money which is dispersed annually to local groups — a kindergarten, a group providing meals for the needy, etc.

It is downright offensive to hear the "advisers" called in by the local Council telling the Op Shop ladies they must run the shop as "a business". Significantly, the ladies later comment on the way people are shocked at how much the shop's prices have gone up.

Return to Op Shop Ladies Intro Page

Stewart Carter & Cath South

Director of Photography: Stewart Carter

Sound Recordist:
Cath South

Rod Quantock


ATOM Award Best Human Story Documentary 21st ATOM awards.

Winner Highly Commended Award at the 2005 Flickerfest International Short Film Festival

IF Audience Choice award at the 20th St Kilda Film Festival


The Age 24 March 2005

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