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Imperial Honours System

The Imperial System of Honours and Awards is a scheme of honours bestowed on citizens or foreigners by the British monarch. This system has a long history, rooted in Roman traditions of awards for military service. Over the twentieth century the honours system has gradually evolved to recognise civilian service and other achievements.

Until 1975, the British Imperial system was the only system for recognition of the service of Australian citizens to Australia. Today, the Imperial system has been largely replaced by the Australian system, established in 1975. Imperial Honours continued to be awarded to Australians on the recommendation of some States until 1989. The Queen still bestows some honours personally.

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Women in Sport

Much like the online exhibition She’s Game: Women making Australian sporting history, this entry ‘pays tribute to the many Australian women over time and across the country who have played, coached, volunteered, administered and supported sport, at all levels.’

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Olympic Games Gold Medallists
(1912 – )

Australian women did not attend the Olympic Games until the Stockholm Games in 1912. Sarah (Fanny) Durack won gold in the 100m freestyle at the those Games. Another Australian woman did not win a gold medal until the 1932 Los Angeles Games, when Clare Dennis won the 200m breaststroke.

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Paralympic Games Athletes

The first official Paralympic Games was held in Rome in 1960. Daphne Hilton was the only woman on the Australian team at the 1960 Games.

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Commonwealth or Empire Games Gold Medallists
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Dance
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Female Mayors and Shire Presidents
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Film
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History and Historians
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Explorers and Adventurers
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Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science

Peak Body

The Australian Academy of Science was founded on 16 February 1954 by Royal Charter. Each year, twenty Fellows are elected to the Academy by their peers.

Currently, women make up only 14% of all living Fellows. In order to address this imbalance, the Australian Government asked the Academy, with the support of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, ‘to provide a 10-year roadmap for achieving sustained increases in women’s STEM participation and retention from school through to careers’. The Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Decadal Plan was released on April 1, 2019.

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Women and Botany

The contribution of Australian women to botany has been significant. Whether as botanical scientists, botanical artists or botanical collectors, women have made, and continue to make, an everlasting impact in this field.

This entry is an ever-growing record of resources and entries on women and botany in the Register.

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Women’s Non-party Political Organisations
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Women and Religion in Australia
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Women at the National Gallery Art School, Melbourne

By the turn of the twentieth century women were visible and active participants in all major Australian art schools, including the National Gallery School in Melbourne, where female students far outnumbered males.

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Women in Radio
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Environment Movement

Women have been active in seeking protection of the environment since before the Federation of Australia in 1901.

To read more about women in the environment movement visit our sister publication The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia.

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Women in Politics

Australian women have had an active role in Australian politics since Henrietta Dugdale formed the first Australian women’s suffrage society in 1884. Just over ten years later, in 1895, South Australian women became the first Australian women eligible to vote. When the Commonwealth Franchise Act was passed in 1902, all women (except for Aboriginal women) were eligible to vote for, and sit in, Federal Parliament.

In 1921 Edith Cowan became the first woman to be elected into any Australian Parliament when she was elected to the Legislative Assembly as a member for West Perth. In 1943, Dame Enid Lyons and Senator Dorothy Tangney became the first women elected into the Commonwealth parliament, with Lyons to the House of Representatives as a member of the United Australia Party and Tangney to the Senate as a member of the Australian Party.

As of January 2019, there are 45 (30%) women in the lower house and 30 (39.47%) in the upper house, meaning women only make up a third of all people in the Commonwealth Parliament.

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Women in Politics: Australian Labor Party

After suffering an electoral defeat in the 1970s, the Australian Labor Party recognised the need to attract more women to the party. Thus, in 1981 ‘the party endorsed a quota requiring that women hold 25 per cent of all internal party positions’ and in 1994 the party also adopted an Affirmative Action Rule, with the aim of ‘achieving preselection of women for 35 per cent of winnable seats at all parliamentary elections by 2002.’

In 1996 the Australian Labor Party established the National Labor Women’s Network and, in the same year, EMILY’s list was formed by a group of Labor women.

‘Between 1994 and 2010 the preselection of women candidates increased from 14.5 per cent to 35.6 per cent.’ In addition, in January 2012 the party has adopted a 40:40:20 quota system, meaning 40 per cent of seats must be filled by women.

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Women in Politics: Minor Parties
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Women in Politics: Australian Greens

Formed in 1992, the Australian Greens adopted gender equity as a founding principle. At the 2010 federal election, the Greens ‘reached a record high for any party… with women comprising 71.4 per cent or more than two-thirds of their total candidates.’

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Women in Politics: Liberal Party of Australia

Since its formation in 1944, the Liberal Party has ‘inherited a tradition of women’s political activism’ and offered a women’s policy statement in both the 1946 and 1949 elections.

A Federal Women’s Committee was established in 1945 and incorporated in the party’s constitution the following year. Since then, ‘The Committee has had representation on the Federal Executive… and the party’s federal Constitution requires the vice-president of the party to be a woman.’

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Women in Politics: Independents
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Education
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made a significant contribution to their countries and communities that have often gone unacknowledged.

This entry is an ever-growing record of resources and entries on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Register.

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Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives Exhibition
(2001 – 2001)

To mark the centenary of Australia’s Federation in 2001, the Victorian Women’s Trust curated an exhibition entitled ‘Ordinary Women, Extraordinary lives’. The exhibition showcased the lives and stories of many influential Victorian women.

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Australian women’s archives