Australian Women's Register

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    Portrait of Ruby Florence Hutchison, MLC, April 20 1964, courtesy of SLWA Catalogue record 086553PD.


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Hutchison, Ruby Florence (1892 - 1974)

15 February 1892
Footscray, Victoria, Australia
17 December 1974
Shenton Park (Perth), Western Australia, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Herbert, Ruby Florence (birth name)


Ruby Hutchison was the first woman elected to the Legislative Council in Western Australia, and the first to take her place in any Australian Council. She was the only female member of the Chamber during this period. Her work enabled the introduction of the first law to enable women to serve on juries, and she founded the West Australian Epilepsy Association to fight discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.


Ruby Florence Herbert was born in Melbourne in February 1892, and came to the Murchison goldfields in Western Australia with her parents in 1896. While still in her teens she married Daniel Buckley, a miner. When the marriage later broke up, she was left to rear seven children alone, and supported her family by taking in boarders and dressmaking. She married Alex Hutchison in 1941, and attended business college and summer schools at the University of Western Australia.

She contested her first election in 1950 at the age of 58, having joined the Australian Labor Party (ALP) decades earlier. In 1954 Hutchison became the first female member of Western Australia's Legislative Council, and throughout her seventeen-year parliamentary career campaigned tirelessly for the Council to be substantially reformed, or abolished. She successfully fought for the right of women to sit on juries, and consistently attempted to secure compulsory voting and adult suffrage for Legislative Council elections. Hutchison received international recognition for her work on behalf of epilepsy sufferers, and was a founder of the West Australian Epilepsy Association. She also fought to ensure that those afflicted with intellectual disabilities did not suffer discrimination. Hutchison retired from politics in 1971 at the age of 79. She died at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in 1974, and is burried in the Karrakatta Cemetery.

Sources used to compile this entry: Black, David and Bolton, Geoffrey (eds), Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia, Vol. 2, 1930-1990, Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Perth, Western Australia, 1990; Black, David and Phillips, Harry, 'Making a Difference: Women in the West Australian Parliament 1921-1999', Parliament of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, 2000; Watson, Judyth [ed.], We Hold Up Half the Sky: The Voices of Western Australian ALP Women in Parliament, Australian Labour Party, Perth, Western Australia, 1994.

Related entries

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  • Elliott, Lyla Daphne (1934 - )

    Elliott was first elected to the Legislative Council (LC) for the North-East Metropolitan Province, succeeding Ruby Hutchison (the first woman elected to the LC) when she retired in 1971.

Digital resources

Portrait of Ruby Florence Hutchison, MLC
April 20 1964
State Library of Western Australia
SLWA Catalogue record 086553PD


Lisa MacKinney

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