Paper industry a family affair for the Donoghues

The Donoghue family has more than 120 years of combined service at the mill. Pictured are Greg, Allan, Ben, Chris, Jamie and Neil. photograph hayley mills

The Donoghue family has more than 120 years of combined service at the mill. Pictured are Greg, Allan, Ben, Chris, Jamie and Neil. photograph hayley mills

Six members of the Donoghue family walk into the board room and take a seat around the table at Australian Paper's Maryvale Mill.

They're having a laugh at the time Greg – a brother and uncle to the five other men in the room – missed his first day on the job at the mill after becoming a little too "intoxicated" during his 21st birthday celebrations.

Greg's now 59.

Then there's Neil – the oldest of the brothers present.

He's only a few weeks away from retirement and close to clocking off after 39-and-a-half years' working at the mill.

Opposite Neil are brothers Jamie, 28, and Ben, 25 – the sons of middle brother Chris who is sitting next to the youngest of the four adult-aged brothers Allan, 48.

Between the six men, they have clocked up 120 years' service at Australian Paper's Maryville Mill – a remarkable achievement when you consider the mill has only been operating for 81 years.

Perhaps what's more peculiar is the fact all of the six Donoghue men work in different areas of the mill and rarely see each other while on the job.

Some work shift work, others work 9-5. From the outset, you can hear the passion these men have for the mill – a place which has supported their family since their father Tom moved the family to the Latrobe Valley to take up a job at the mill when they were kids.

If you were to include their father's time employed at the mill, the Donoghue family has contributed almost 13 decades of continuous service.

"It's good to see a place like Australian Paper that has provided an opportunity for us," Neil said.

"We moved to Traralgon when dad got a job here. We were down at Lang Lang so we moved up here ... and that opportunity has been forthcoming for the rest of the family.

"We've only got three brothers (out of seven) who haven't worked here."

Reflecting on their experiences, it is obvious the men have been proud to call the mill their place of work.

"It's provided us with a very comfortable lifestyle. We've been able to provide a lot of things for our kids that we as kids weren't fortunate enough to enjoy," Neil said.

While the Donoghue name is synonymous with the mill and its history, perhaps the tradition may continue in years to come.

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