We are delighted to announce that a past Australian Women’s Archives Project Committee of Management and National Foundation for Australian Women board member, Professor Patricia Grimshaw, has been recognised with an Order of Australia on the 2017 Australia Day Honours list. Given the extent of her ‘distinguished service to the social sciences and to the humanities through researching, documenting and preserving Australian history, and the roles of women in society’ it amazes us that it has taken so long. Professor Grimshaw has been inspiring scholars, awakening them to how structural inequity works and encouraging activism through experience and scholarship for four decades. Not one to blow her own trumpet, we are delighted that someone else has done it on her behalf!
While it is pleasing to see our deserving friends recognised for their achievements, there is still much to do to ensure women’s public contributions are better recognised. Men still far outnumber women in awards lists, but if women are nominated, they have a very good chance of being awarded.
The recently announced Victorian Government Gender Equity Strategy understands that recognising and promoting women’s public contributions, past and present, is an important step in creating a more equitable society. We need to speak up and nominate women who inspire us to be better people so that we can create a more just society. Get cracking, and start nominating!
Our warmest congratulations go to Shirley Stott Despoja! Of twenty-one people in the media category to receive an Australia Day Honour, only three of them are women and she is one of them. The citation, which simply reads, ‘for service to the print media as a journalist’, buries the lede somewhat! Shirley was a trailblazing woman in an industry that did not always value her worth. And when they did, they wished she wasn’t the person attached to the skills. In an interview with Matt Abram on ABC Radio (Adelaide) Shirley recalls how employers often ‘wanted her writing, but they didn’t want me’.
Shirley Stott Despoja was the first woman to be employed in the general news room at the Adelaide Advertiser. She was that paper’s first ever Arts Editor, appointed at a time when the arts were of enormous political and economic significance in South Australia. She has been variously described as ‘an inspiration’, ‘a pioneer’, ‘gutsy’, ‘an arts editor who changed the city’ (Adelaide) and ‘a great lady of a great age of print’. You can read more about Shirley Stott Despoja on the Australian Women’s Register.
The Invisible Farmer is the largest ever study of Australian women on the land. It will combine personal narratives and academic research to map the diverse, innovative and vital role of women in Australian agriculture. You can find out more about the project here.
The project has funding to support two PhD scholarships and we would like you to circulate this news widely throughout your networks! One scholarship – The History of the Australian Rural Women’s Movement – will address the urgent need to document and interview women involved in the Australian Rural Women’s Movement. It will make an important contribution to the re-framing of the history of rural Australia.
The second scholarship – The Contemporary Role of Women in Agriculture – will contribute research intended to support government initiatives to increase the participation of women in decision making and leadership in agricultural and rural communities.
Both scholarships will involve a significant oral history component.
Position descriptions and selection criteria for both scholarships will be available shortly. In the meantime, we are seeking expressions of interest from graduate students who may be interested in applying, once the applications are open.
Please register your interest with Dr Nikki Henningham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The community of Australian historians is in mourning after the passing of Jill Roe on 12 January 2017.
Jillian Isobel Roe, best known for her biography of Miles Franklin published in 2008, was a distinguished historian, admired locally and abroad. Described as ‘both a feminist and a historian’, her contributions to Australian feminism and history cannot be over-estimated.
A social justice warrior for all her life, she will be sadly missed by all who knew her. You can read more about her in the Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia.
Victoria’s new gender equality strategy recognises the importance of heritage and cultural activities.
On 5 December 2016, The Victorian state government announced a series of landmark reforms to support women and girls to be be safer and stronger in their homes, workplaces and communities. Safe and Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy is one response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence that found gender inequality to be one of the key drivers behind family violence.
There are many reforms and initiatives listed in the strategy document, including programs to combat inequality in grassroots sporting programs, a review of laws against sexist advertising and gender based hate speech, and a new Gender Equality Act.
We are delighted to see that the promotion of women’s history, heritage and cultural programs is included in this strategy. Funding has been made available to establish HERplace – A Women’s Heritage Centre. The board of management will combine the talents of the committees of management of two pre-existing organisations; Women’s Heritage Centre Victoria (WHCV) and HER PLACE Women’s Museum.
AWAP staff and volunteers, as supporters of WHCV and now the newly established HERplace Women’s Heritage Centre, are excited to be involved in this important initiative and look forward to providing you with more news throughout 2107.