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First International Women in Agriculture Conference
(1994 – 1994)


The First International Women in Agriculture Conference was held from 1 to 3 July 1994, at the University of Melbourne in Victoria. It attracted over 850 participants from 33 countries, and was the largest agricultural conference held in Australia. It was a pivotal moment in the women in agriculture movement and in the process of securing a voice in decision making for rural women, nationally and internationally.  The conference was organised by women who were active in the movement, from farmers to their supporters and advisors in government departments and non-government rural organisations. Its aims reflected the concerns of women in agriculture: to raise the profile of rural women, to increase awareness of the economic, social legal and cultural factors affecting their status, and to provide learning opportunities to develop new skills and access to information and networks. Its focus reflected women’s concern with the social, environmental and cultural dimensions of agriculture, as well as the economic and production aspects, and their desire to develop and capture opportunities in world markets

Jean Arnot Luncheon
(1994 – )

The inaugural Jean Arnot Luncheon was held at Parliament House, Sydney, on 8 April 1994, and originated from Jean Fleming Arnot’s 90th birthday celebrations a year earlier at the same venue.

Australian Bicentenary 1988
(1988 – 1988)

Australian State and Federal governments named the festivities around the Bicentenary of the invasion of Australia on 26 January 1788 by the British the ‘Celebration of a nation’. Various communities took a dissenting view, notably many Indigenous groups who united on 26 January 1988 to stage the largest Indigenous protest in the history of colonised Australia. This took the form of a peaceful march of 100 000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Sydney. It was part of a history of Indigenous observation of this day inaugurated by the 1938 Day of Mourning. As the Indigenous poet and campaigner Oodgeroo Noonuccal asked at the time of the Bicentennial, ‘from the Aboriginal point of view, what is there to celebrate?’. In 1987, Oodgeroo returned her MBE in protest against the upcoming 1988 Bicentennial celebrations.

Commonwealth Games (12th: 1982: Brisbane)
(1982 – )

Held in Brisbane in October 1982, the 12th Commonwealth Games attracted demonstrations from Aboriginal people and supporters, part of the campaign for land rights.

Referendum 1967
(1967 – )

In February 1967, Prime Minister Harold Holt agreed to hold a national referendum in May 1967 as the result of a sustained campaign by the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI) which was agitating for amendments to the constitution. There were two changes proposed, both of which were accepted by a vast majority of voters: (1) to remove a discriminatory clause in Section 51 (xxvi) which had prevented the Federal Government from legislating for Aboriginal people. This clause had meant States could enact their own laws relating to Aboriginal people; in this way Aboriginal people had been discriminated against and excluded from social services under State law; (2) Section 127, which excluded Aboriginal people from being counted in national censuses, was deleted.

Despite legislation enacted on 10 August 1967 as a result of the referendum, the effects of the constitutional changes were not immediate; some States were reluctant to repeal discriminatory laws, and did not do so for many years. The federal government was slow to act on its new powers. The ‘yes’ vote had also been concentrated in certain areas leaving a substantial ‘no’ vote in other areas.
The 1967 referendum has nevertheless been mythologised in Australia’s history as a high-water-mark of popular support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, and reflects the sustained efforts of generations of Indigenous advocates.

Sources: Horton (ed), 1994, Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia.
McGinness, 1991, ‘What FCAATSI fought for’

Dame Marjorie Parker Memorial Awards


The scholarship Dame Marjorie Parker Memorial Awards are open to all students who have completed at least one year of post-secondary study or training and who are continuing their studies in Tasmania. The scholarship is for $1,000. The Awards are conducted by the Soroptimist International of Launceston. For further information contact the President, Soroptimist International of Launceston, PO Box 381, Launceston Tas. 7250.

National Labor Women’s Conference
(1981 – )


The National Labor Women’s Conference brings together Labor women from around the country to discuss issues facing women and to consider Labor’s policy position on these issues.

Composing Women’s Festival
(1991 – 1991)

The inaugural Composing Women’s Festival was held in Adelaide in September 1991. The Festival was founded by composer Becky Llewellyn and it brought Australian female composers together for the first time.

Clare Burton Memorial Scholarship
(2002 – )

The Clare Burton Memorial Scholarship commemorates Dr Clare Burton, a leading researcher, public sector administrator, academic, consultant and writer on employment equity, who died suddenly in August 1998. The $10,000 scholarship provides funds to support post-graduate research into gender equity. The scholarship was established by the five universities of the Australian Technology Network, which includes Curtin University, Queensland University of Technology, RMIT University, University of South Australia and University of Technology, Sydney.

Broken Hill Strikes
(1889 – 1920)

Between 1889 and 1920 miners at Broken Hill took part in four major strikes, always with the strong support of Broken Hill women. In 2001, a memorial was erected in the centre of the city to acknowledge the role of women in the development of the city and particularly in the resolution of industrial disputes.

Kitty McEwan Victorian Sportswoman of the Year
(1974 – )


The Kitty McEwan Sportswoman of the Year award was established in 1974 and named in honour of Kitty McEwan, a journalist and women’s right activist who did much to promote women’s sport in Australia

Sydney Empire Games
(1938 – 1938)

Sports Event

The Sydney Empire Games were planned to form part of the celebrations for the sesquicentenary of the foundation of the City of Sydney, which also marked 150 years of white settlement in Australia. The celebrations went for three months between January 26 (Australia Day) and April 25 (ANZAC Day). The Games were held during the week of 5-12 February.

98 Australian men (68) and women (30) competed with athletes from fifteen Empire countries in seven sports (athletics, boxing, cycling, lawn bowls, rowing, swimming (including diving) and wrestling. Women could only compete in two of those categories (athletics and swimming). Of the 16 medals won by Australians in the pool, women won 9. Of the 29 won on the track, they won 10, 5 of them gold medals to Decima Norman. She was the unrivalled star of the games.

Revolution and Reform – 1975 and Beyond
(1970 – )

On August 6 2005 hundreds of women (and a few men) from all around Australia gathered in Canberra to celebrate the 30th anniversary of International Women’s Year (IWY) and the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration on Women in the United Nations Charter.

Organised by the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW), UNIFEM Australia, the Jessie Street Trust, and the Jessie Street National Women’s Library, and supported by a host of sponsors the event celebrated 30 years of achievements by women and for women, in Australia and worldwide. Participants got a centre stage view of IWY events, including the Mexico Conference, and some keyhole glimpses of how that year and what flowed from it has changed the lives of women around the world.

Highlights of the day included ‘snapshot’ talks with Sara Dowse and other speakers, recreating the events of IWY and reflecting on the present and future. Australian journalist Maxine McKew compered the formal reception and Elizabeth Reid, who led the Australian delegation to the 1975 Mexico Conference, reprised the speech she gave to that historic conference.

Migrant Women Workers Project
(1974 – 1975)

The Migrant Women Workers Project was, arguably, the first occasion when feminist concerns combined with ethnic rights multiculturalism to highlight the precarious position of women of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and the inadequacy of settlement services to assist them. The report produced by the project, ‘But I wouldn’t want my wife to work here…’: a study of migrant women in Melbourne Industry, drew attention to the plight of migrant factory workers in a sustained fashion that had hitherto been unseen. It also served as a vehicle for further involvement from the union movement in the struggle for equity for migrant women workers.

Review of Post Arrival Programs and Services to Migrants
(1977 – 1978)

Government review

The review of Post Arrival Programs and Services to Migrants was established by Cabinet decision and announced by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Malcolm Fraser, on August 31, 1977. Established in order to ensure that the changing needs of migrants were being met by available resources, the review was conducted under prime ministerial authority in order to circumvent some allegedly obstructionist senior bureaucrats in the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. The first meeting of the Review Group, which was chaired by Mr Frank Galbally, C.B.E, was held on 1 September 1977. The committee of review consulted widely, seeking submissions from individuals and organisations, government and non-government. Advice from migrant community groups was actively sought.

The report brought down by the review group, Migrant Services and Programs, was submitted to
the Prime Minister on 27 April 1978 and tabled by him on 30 May 1978. It was made available in Arabic, Dutch, English, German, Greek, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese. In it, the Review Group came down with a total number of fifty-seven recommended improvements to
programs and services involving expenditure of about $50 million in such areas as initial settlement and education, especially the teaching of English, with emphasis placed on the role of ethnic communities themselves, and other levels of government, to encourage multiculturalism.

Of particular significance to migrant women was recommendation number 43, which stated ‘the implementation of the general recommendations of the Report, which have been framed in recognition of the special problems of migrant women, should take particular account of their needs’.

Conducted at a time, according to the committee, when Australia was ‘at a critical stage in the development of a cohesive, united, multicultural nation’, the Galbally review of Post Arrival Programs and Services to Migrants marks an important development in the evolution of Australian official policy towards settlers from one of assimilation to multiculturalism. Its pointed reference to the needs of women also marked a moment when ethnic and gender politics connected.

Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Speakout

In 1982, Jenny Ow, of the Australian Council of Churches, organised the first Immigrant Women’s Speakout. Opened by Franca Arena a New South Wales parliamentarian, the speakout attracted 200 women from around the country, with the aim of encouraging them to speak out loud about the problems that migrant women confronted. Similar occasions followed in other capital cities around the country.

Two very important organisations grew out of this occasion. One was the New South Wales Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association, the other was the New South Wales Immigrant Women’s Resource Centre, which was established in 1985.

Eldridge Award
(1998 – )

Writing Award

The Marian Eldridge Award is a national award to encourage an aspiring female writer to undertake a literary activity such as a short course of study, or to complete a project, or attend a writers’ week or a conference. There is no age limit.

The award was established in 1998 under the auspices of the National Foundation for Australian Women, as a legacy of Marian Eldridge (1 February 1936 – 14 February 1997), an acclaimed short story writer, a novelist, poet and teacher who spent most of her creative writing years in Canberra, where inter alia she was instrumental in establishing the ACT Writers’ Centre.

In the last months of her life she planned a gift to establish a professional development award to nurture writers. She said that the recipient should not be established but someone whose writing showed promise, and that the writing need not be fiction. Marian said that “when trying to assist aspiring writers ‘every little bit helps’ and that such recognition would be an important milestone in a developing literary career.

An Advisory Group selected by Marian Eldridge’s family decides each year on guidelines for applicants, assesses applications and selects the recipient of the award.

The first four competitions ($1000 cash prize) were confined to residents of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales (NSW), and brought in a total of 78 applications. The winners of those competitions of were:
•Sarah St Vincent Welch (1998)
•Julie Simpson (1999)
•Rose de Angelis (2000)
•Elanna Herbert (2001)

A wider Advisory Group has since been established, which now includes representatives from the National Library of Australia, the School of Creative Communication at the University of Canberra and the ACT Cultural Council. From its fifth year, the award was open to applicants throughout Australia. National competition winners have been:
•Annah Faulkner (2002/2003)
•Caroline Lee (2005).

The award amount is currently $1500.

(This entry is sponsored by generous donation from Christine Foley.)

The Australian Women’s Conference for Victory in War and Victory in Peace
(1943 – 1943)

Conference, Feminist conference

The Australian Women’s Conference for Victory in War and Victory in Peace was held in November 1943, organised around the theme ‘A War to Win, a World to Gain’. In a feat of organisational excellence, given the restrictions placed on interstate travel during war time, ninety-one women’s organisations from around Australia met in Sydney, Australia, to discuss post war reconstruction and the ‘problems that will effect women and children in the post war period.’ The Australian Women’s Charter, which documents the resolutions brought forward during the conference and is considered a landmark feminist manifesto, was an important outcome of the conference.

Australia Day Women’s Ceremony


Since 1961 the National Council of Women of Victoria Inc (NCWV) and the Australia Day Council (Victoria) have come together to conduct a ceremony to honour the Pioneer Women of Australia and in particular, Victoria.

The Ceremony has been held in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden in King’s Domain each January. Guides Victoria have generously provided a Colour Party for the raising and lowering of the Australian Flag. The Australia Day Council has undertaken to see to the music, microphone and flowers for the Guest Speaker. NCWV has undertaken to arrange for chairs to be placed in the garden, the sheaf of flowers for the Memorial Plaque as well as in discussion with the Australia Day Council (Victoria) to invite a Guest Speaker. The City of Melbourne through its Parks and Garden Department has assisted in many ways over the years as without their invaluable assistance it would not be possible to hold the Ceremony in these Pioneer Women’s Gardens. The Minute’s Silence was introduced to honour all pioneer women at the request of the Australian Church Women.

Jobs for Women Campaigns

The first Jobs for Women Campaign in Wollongong, New South Wales commenced during the early 1970s. At the time mining companies of the area traditionally employed men. The women of Wollongong campaigned for the right to be employed in the steelworker positions at Australian Iron and Steel, a subsidiary of BHP. During the campaign women chained themselves to the fences of the steelworks, distributed leaflets and dressed as men to complete a shift. The campaign set a precedent for the employment of women in all non-traditional areas of work, when BHP commenced employing women in the industry.

The economic circumstances of the 1980s made the women launch the Jobs for Women Action Campaign. Once again they circulated leaflets – in six languages, established a “Tent Embassy,” appealed to the NSW Counsellor for Equal Opportunity and won a court case under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act.

Waitresses’ strike – Refreshment Services Branch
(1925 – 1925)

Industrial action

On Friday, 11 September 1925 in response to the statement made about them by retired naval officer Captain Oswald Carter, the waitresses of the Refreshment Services Branch of the Victorian Railways went on strike. Carter held a senior post in the railways and reported to the chief of the Refreshment Services Branch that he found [the staff] ‘lazy, dirty and unmanageable’. He further added: ‘I propose to get in touch with the Immigration Authorities with a view to ascertaining the possibilities of getting suitable servants. I do not think that girls from Melbourne are likely to give satisfaction.’

The waitresses demanded an apology and went on strike until they received one. The male leaders of the Australian Railways Union – Victorian Branch commenced negotiations on behalf of their members and after two days a satisfactory settlement with management was arranged when an apology was obtained.

Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work 1907
(1907 – 1907)


Held at the Exhibition Buildings Melbourne from 23 October 1907 for five weeks.
Visitors of the exhibition were able to view a display of arts and crafts including: paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, pottery, needlework, leatherwork, woodwork, spinning and weaving. Exhibitors from Australia, Britain, Europe, North and South America, India and Africa contributed to the exhibition, which was the inspiration of Lady Northcote, wife of the governor-general.

University of Melbourne Women Graduates Centenary Committee
(1983 – )


To celebrate the centenary of the graduation of the first woman graduate (Bella Guerin, 1883), the University Council appointed a Committee, chaired by Dame Margaret Blackwood, with the responsibility of arranging various appropriate events in 1983.

(Source: Historical Note University of Melbourne Archives

Pauline Toner Award


La Trobe University, Melbourne established the Pauline Toner Award to honour the late Pauline Toner MP, a former student and notable citizen.

National Women’s Round Table
(1994 – )

The National Women’s Round Table is an annual meeting convened by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. The Round Table was first held in 1994. It replaced the National Women’s Consultative Council as the primary direct mechanism for women’s input into government. For the first three years, the Round Table was held twice each year for one day, with just over 50 organisations represented. Meetings were held in Parliament House during sitting weeks to facilitate participants’ access to Parliamentarians.

In 1997, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Jocelyn Newman, changed the arrangements to two day meetings, once each year.

Sources: and

Women’s Constitutional Convention
(1998 – 1998)

The Women’s Constitutional Convention met at Parliament House, Canberra, 29-30 January 1998. Discussions included whether or not Australia should become a republic, women’s place in politics and the status of women in Australia.
Source: RAAM

Clare Burton Award


Named in memory and celebration of the life and work of Dr Clare Burton, The Clare Burton Award is directed to a particular work area within the University that has made the most outstanding contribution towards progress in equal opportunity, or has achieved significant success in the promotion of an environment for staff where human diversity is valued.