The conductress is lowering the pole that connects the tram to the overhead electric wires and with the driver seated and ready to go, with the rear pole presumably raised to the overhead wire by the driver. It looks awfully like a propaganda photo. Note the covering over the headlight, so that the tram would not be a illuminated target for German or Japanese strafing or bombing during the 'brownout' war years. In my memory, when the trams of years ago stopped at the terminus, driver and conductor both jumped out at more or less the same time to change the poles. The driver would not be seated and ready to go as the conductor lowered the pole. Also note the mass of telephone wires, something which is all now underground, and the side destination on the tram, which is not in my memory, although that model of tram is.
Route 27 has long passed into history, but I remember seeing route 27 trams. There is a metal plate hanging in the window to the left of driver. The H on the plate denoted that the tram was operated by Hawthorn Tram Depot, and guess what the depot is now? Yep, smart apartments, but with a small tram museum still there.
It wasn't until the mid 1970s that women were allowed to drive trams, and R knew the first female driver, who was not of a marrying or child rearing kind, and she certainly wore very sensible shoes. To quote the first female Melbourne tram driver, I don't need a penis to drive a tram, and given the number of female tram drivers Melbourne now has, she was quite right.