- Religious organisation, Lobby group and Women's Rights Organisation
The first local Union in Queensland was formed in Brisbane in September 1885, inspired by the visit of Mary Leavitt, the world missionary of the American Union. Mrs W. Steele was elected first president. The following year The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Queensland was formed at the first Colonial convention. The Union is primarily dedicated to promoting total abstinence from alcohol and other harmful drugs and all members sign a pledge to this effect. However, under its broader agenda of 'home protection' and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, and in its belief that the dangers of alcohol could not be tackled in isolation, the group has pursued a very wide-ranging reform agenda mostly relating to the welfare of women and children. Importantly, influenced by its sister organisation in the United States, the Union became a major supporter of the campaign for women's suffrage in Australia as it was believed that power at the ballot box was the only way to achieve their goals. At its first meeting in 1886 various Departments of work were formed around Scientific Instruction, Sabbath Schools, Literature Distribution, Hygiene and Press. By 1890 the group had joined the campaign for women's suffrage and a Suffrage Department was formed. While at its most influential in the years up to WWI, the movement continues today.
Sources used to compile this entry: Pargeter, Judith, For God Home and Humanity: National Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Australia: Centenary History 1891-1991, National Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Australia, Adelaide, 1995.