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Shirley Stott Despoja, journalist, awarded an OAM on Australia Day 2017.

Date: 27 January 2017

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: Exciting Postgraduate Opportunity

Date: 23 January 2017

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


Vale Jill Roe (1940 – 2017)

Date: 18 January 2017

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.

Date: 10 January 2017

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.

Susan Kiefel becomes Australia’s first female High Court chief justice

Date: 29 November 2016

Susan Kiefel has been named as the next Chief Justice of the High Court, the first woman to take on the role. She replace Chief Justice Robert French who will stand down in January, ahead of his 70th birthday and in order to allow his successor to be in place for the start of the new year sittings on January 30.

Justice Kiefel was appointed to the court in September 2007, having already served as a judge in the Federal Government and the Supreme Court of Queensland. She was also the first woman in Queensland to be appointed Queen’s Counsel.

“The High Court remains as relevant today to Australians as it did at Federation. The issues that come before the High Court affect many aspects of the life of the nation,” Justice Kiefel said in a statement.

“It will be a privilege to walk in the footsteps of the eminent jurists who have been appointed Chief Justices since the Court was established in 1903.”