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Lee, Elizabeth
(1979 – )

Fitness instructor, Lawyer, Politician

Elizabeth Lee became Leader of the Opposition in the ACT Legislative Assembly in October 2020. She was first elected to the Assembly in 2016, representing the Canberra Liberals in the electorate of Kurrajong. Lee was the first Asian-Australian to be elected to the Assembly and the first person of Korean heritage to be elected to an Australian parliament. She is the first Asian-Australian to lead a major political party. Before being elected, Lee practised as a lawyer in government and private practice and was a law lecturer at the Australian National University and the University of Canberra. She has also worked as a fitness instructor.

Elizabeth Lee was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2016.

Hain, Gladys Adeline
(1887 – 1962)

Barrister, Lawyer, Solicitor, Women's rights activist

Conway, Helen
(1953 – )

Businesswoman, Chief Executive Officer, Lawyer, Public servant

Helen Conway is a lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in business and, more recently, in the public sector. She spent ten years in private legal practice, including seven years as a partner in a major law firm in Sydney, and then moved into the corporate sector where she worked as a lawyer, company secretary and senior executive in the insurance, transport, energy, retail and construction industries for eighteen years. At the same time, she undertook various directorships in the health, transport and superannuation sectors.

Giddings, Larissa Tahireh
(1972 – )

Electorate Officer, Lawyer, Parliamentarian

Bassat, Nina
(1939 – )

Campaigner, Chairperson, Community activist, Community advocate, Community Leader, Jewish community leader, Lawyer, President, Solicitor, Teacher

Nina Bassat is a Holocaust survivor and former lawyer who was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List ‘for service to the community as an executive member of a range of peak Jewish organisations and through the promotion of greater community understanding’. The first woman to be president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, she also served as president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry – the first Holocaust survivor and first woman lawyer to attain that position.

MacTiernan, Alannah Joan Geraldine
(1953 – )

Lawyer, Mayor, Parliamentarian, Partner, Solicitor

Alannah MacTiernan was elected to the Thirty-Fourth Parliament of Western Australia as the Australian Labor Party member for the East Metropolitan Region (Legislative Council) on 6 February 1993 for a term commencing on 22 May 1993. She resigned on 21 November 1996. She was then elected to the Thirty-Fifth Parliament for Armadale on 14 December 1996 in succession to Hon Elsie Kay Hallahan (retired). MacTiernana was re-elected 2001, 2005, and 2008. She served as the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure from 16 February 2001 – 6 September 2008.

Walker, Susan Elizabeth
(1951 – )

Lawyer, Parliamentarian

Sue Walker was elected as an Independent candidate to the Legislative Assembly in the Parliament of Western Australia for the electorate of Nedlands in June 2001. She was re-elected in 2005, and contested the general election as an Independent for the electorate of Nedlands in 2008 and was defeated by William Richard Marmion.

Anwyl, Megan Irene
(1962 – )

Advisor, Lawyer, Parliamentarian

Megan Anwyl was elected to the thirty-fourth Parliament of Western Australia for Kalgoorlie at the by-election on 16 March 1996, representing the Australian Labor Party. The election was held to fill the vacancy consequent upon the resignation of Hon. Ian Frederick Taylor. Anwyl was re-elected in 1996, and defeated on 10 February 2001.

Edwardes, Cheryl Lynn
(1950 – )

Attorney General, Lawyer, Parliamentarian, Solicitor

Cheryl Edwards was a Liberal Party of Australia member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly. Elected to the Thirty-third Parliament of Western Australia for Kingsley (new seat) on 4 February 1989, she was re-elected in 1993, 1996, 2001. She did not contest the general election of 2005.

McWhinney, Agnes
(1891 – 1987)

Lawyer, Solicitor

Following the introduction of the Legal Practitioners Act of 1905, Agnes McWhinney became the first Queensland woman to be admitted as a legal practitioner in 1915. Agnes was also the first female solicitor to practise in Queensland.

Prentice, Una Gailey
(1913 – 1986)


Una Prentice (nee Bick) was the first woman law graduate admitted to the Bar of the Queensland Supreme Court, first woman admitted to the Bar of the High Court, and first female Commonwealth Prosecutor.

Forde, Mary Marguerite Leneen
(1935 – )

Commissioner, Governor, Lawyer, Solicitor, University Chancellor

Mary Marguerite Leneen Forde was admitted as a solicitor in Queensland in 1970, one of only six women in her graduating class. After a distinguished legal career, she was appointed Governor of Queensland a position she held from 1992 until 1997. When she was appointed, she was only the second woman to hold the position of governor of an Australian state and the first to take on the role in Queensland. In 1998 Forde was appointed to Chair the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions. Her report was handed down in May 1999.

Go to ‘Details’ below to read an essay written by Leneen Forde for the Trailblazing Women and the Law Project.

Campbell, Enid Mona
(1932 – 2010)

Academic, Lawyer, Professor

Professor Enid Campbell, a leading Australian scholar in constitutional law and administrative law, was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) on 16 June 1979 for services to education in the field of law. Campbell, who was the first female dean of a law faculty in Australia, was bestowed with the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa by the University of Tasmania in 1990.

Cowan, Edith Dircksey
(1861 – 1932)

Community worker, Lawyer, Magistrate, Political activist, Politician, Public servant

Edith Cowan, the first woman to be elected to an Australian parliament in Western Australia in 1921, was described in her entry in Australian feminism, a companion, as ‘a committed, tireless and public campaigner for women’s and children’s rights from the early twentieth century’. Married at the age of seventeen to James Cowan, registrar and master of the Supreme Court, they had five children. She was the founding secretary in 1894 and later president of the Karrakatta Club, a women’s club in Perth, which campaigned for female suffrage. Her commitment to women’s well-being resulted in her active involvement in the establishment of the Western Australian National Council of Women in 1911. She was a foundation member of the Children’s Protection Society in 1906 and the first woman to be appointed to the Children’s Court bench in 1915. She became a Justice of the Peace in 1920. In the same year her work was acknowledged with her appointment to the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to the Western Australian division of the Red Cross Society, of which she was a founding member in 1914.

A clock tower at the entrance to King’s Park in Perth was erected to her memory in 1934 and in 1995 her portrait was printed on the Australian fifty dollar note.

Hallenstein, Phillipa May
(1918 – 1994)

Community worker, Lawyer, Solicitor

In 1972, Phillipa Hallenstein was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the community and to women’s organisations.

Zelling, Sesca Ross
(1918 – 2001)


Sesca Zelling was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1960 in recognition of her service to women and the community of South Australia.

McClemans, Sheila Mary
(1909 – 1988)

Director, Lawyer, Servicewoman

Sheila Mary McClemans pioneered entry into the legal profession for Western Australian women. Throughout her life, in addition to her legal career, Sheila held a range of high-level positions, including director of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, and became the role model for many Australian women inside and outside the armed forces. During her lifetime Sheila’s efforts never received the full recognition they deserved within the legal profession. She was denied the traditional rewards of QC, Judge or Dame. The Commonwealth, however, recognised the value of her service to the law and women’s affairs, appointing her an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1951 and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1977. She was also awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal (SJM) in 1977.

Miller, Mabel Flora
(1906 – 1978)

Barrister, Lawyer, Politician

Mabel Miller, who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) during World War II, was an active public figure in Hobart for twenty years. She was the first woman to be elected to the Hobart City Council in 1952 and later, in 1955, one of the first two women to be elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly as the Liberal member for Franklin. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for distinguished public service on January 1st, 1967.

Mitchell, Roma Flinders
(1913 – 2000)

Governor, Judge, Lawyer, Queen's Counsel

The Honourable Dame Roma Mitchell was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order on 1 January 2000. During her life Dame Roma achieved a number of firsts. She was the first woman Governor of an Australian State (South Australia, 1991-1996), the first woman Chancellor of a university in Australia (University of Adelaide, 1983-1990) and the first Australian woman Queen’s Counsel (1962).

Ashmor, Kate
(1980 – )

Business owner, Community Leader, Lawyer, President

When Kate Ashmor was young, a family member advised her that the best way for her to channel her argumentative tendencies while earning a living was to become a lawyer. She took this advice and now Kate runs her own practice, Ashmor Legal. She has previously worked in a variety of government and corporate settings.

As well as running her own business Kate has a variety of community interests, applying the skills she has in her professional toolkit to leadership in not-for-profit and voluntary organisations. She is Chair of the board of Caulfield Park Bendigo Bank and has served on the boards of Alola Australia and Project Deborah. She is a Past Convenor of Victorian Women Lawyers (2010-2011) and a Past President of Australian Women Lawyers (2012-2013). She served as an elected Councillor in the City of Glen Eira from 2005-2008.

She combines all this with family life, but hastens to add that she doesn’t want to intimidate others with her level of activity. ‘I’ve always felt – and it’s difficult for non-Jewish people to understand this – that there is a motivation that comes from deep within,’ she says. ‘It is like a compass – something that gets me out of bed, and navigates me through tough times. It is an obligation to those who didn’t make it.’ She carries that obligation, ‘in the choice I have made in life to pack in as much as I can, in the types of things I’ve chosen to pack in and in the career risks I’ve chosen to take.’ By ‘packing it in’ she doesn’t assume or expect that others must do the same, but she does hope her example, and some lessons she has learned along the way, will inspire other women to take risks, take leadership opportunities and get involved.

Her view is that if we are going to address the structural issues that work against women, then we need voices that are influential who can stand up and speak. ‘There are a hell of a lot of these voices,’ she says, ‘but they are pushing through each day on a few hours’ sleep, trying to be a million things to a million people, working full time or running their own businesses with a child on their hip.’

Many of them are well educated, and that education creates opportunities. ‘The most powerful tool that a Jewish woman can have, she says, ‘is what is in their head, not what is on their fingers. Stuff just comes and goes. But the legacy you can leave by using your education is what’s important to me, as a Jewish woman. It can’t be taken away.’

Who knows what lies ahead for Kate Ashmor? She certainly won’t waste time moving onto it if the calling comes:

There are those who want to get involved to enjoy the status quo, there are those who want to change it to improve the lives of others. My adult life is to help advocate on behalf of others… I see myself as a problem solver and a change maker. I want my epitaph to be ‘I did the best I could.

Szalmuk-Singer, Simone
(1968 – )

Community Leader, Lawyer, President

Simone Szalmuk-Singer, a lawyer by profession, has been a leader in Jewish communal organisations in Australia for nearly a decade. Her first communal leadership position was as President of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Victoria and National Vice-President of JNF Australia. In her early 40s, at the time, Simone was considered to be a relatively young leader of a major Jewish organisation. Says Simone, ‘I didn’t appreciate that it was a big deal to become President in my early 40s until I was congratulated by others who pointed out that I was both ‘young’ and ‘female.”

A member of a new, young generation of leadership, Simone used the skills she developed in the corporate world to evolve and develop governance and innovative leadership in the Australian Jewish community. Mentored by a wonderful woman, Sara Gold, Simone now fosters young leaders, women and men, and encourages them to take up leadership opportunities in the Jewish community.

Simone is currently Co-Chair of the Australian Jewish Funders, the network of philanthropists committed to inspiring effective philanthropy and strengthening Jewish community. She is also a board director at Jewish Care Victoria – the largest Jewish services organisation in Victoria. Simone co-founded and co-edits Jewish Women of Words – an online writers’ platform for emerging and established Jewish women writers. In 2017-18, Simone is a fellow in the prestigious Schusterman Foundation Fellowship program, a global leadership development program for senior Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders.

Simone does these things while managing the responsibilities of family and home life; experiencing the dynamic challenges posed by that juggling act along the way. In the communal space, Simone has found that she can have meaningful and profound impact on the sector whilst still able to retain work-life balance.

Judd, Kerri Elizabeth

Barrister, Lawyer, Queen's Counsel

Kerri Judd is the first woman to become the Director of Public Prosecutions for the state of Victoria. Prior to this appointment, Judd served as a Senior Crown Prosecutor, an Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor, a judge’s associate, a defense barrister, and also represented the state at the royal commission into the Black Saturday bushfires and child sexual abuse. She also spent a year as a Senior Legal Officer with the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Fitzgerald, Deidre


Deidre Fitzgerald received a Commonwealth scholarship to attend the University of Melbourne during the 1950s. She graduated with a law degree in 1957 and, after receiving her articles the following year, went into practice in 1959.

In 1962, Deidre was approached by fellow graduate Lillian Cooney to become a partner in her father’s law practice, as he had just passed away. Deidre accepted and took up the position in November, remaining at the firm for twelve years. This was the first female law partnership in Melbourne.

Deidre was a member of the Women Lawyers Association (known as the Legal Women’s Association prior to the 1960s) and later became their president. She was also the first female representative of the Law Institute Council.

In 1975 Deidre was elected to the position of deputy registrar of the new Family Court of Victoria and for a time she was also employed as the chairman of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Board.

Dodds-Streeton, Julie Anne

Academic, Judge, Lawyer, Lecturer, Tutor

The Honourable Justice Julie Anne Dodds-Streeton was educated at University High School and graduated with First Class Honours in history from the University of Melbourne. After working as a tutor in the History Department, Justice Dodds-Streeton completed an Honours degree in Law and for a time was employed as a senior lecturer at the Melbourne Law School.

Justice Dodds-Streeton took silk in 2001 and in July 2002 she was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Alongside Marilyn Warren and Rosemary Balmford, the three women sat together as Australia’s first all-female Full Court. She served as a judge in the Trial Division for over five years and as a Judge of Appeal for more than two years. In February 2012 Justice Dodd-Streeton was appointed a judge in the Federal Court of Australia. She retired from the Federal Court on April 1, 2014.

Justice Dodd-Streeton is currently the Judge in Residence at the Melbourne Law School and the Reserve Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Winters, Sylvia

Barrister, Feminist, Lawyer

Sylvia Winters was a barrister at the New South Wales Bar. Winters worked as a barrister for the Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) in 1992-1993 in the National Wage Case engaged on their campaign over the implications of enterprise bargaining on women.

McPhee, Nancy

Barrister, Lawyer

In 1935, Nancy McPhee became the first Tasmanian woman to be admitted to the bar.

Hall, Elizabeth

Lawyer, Legal officer, Magistrate, Solicitor

Elizabeth Hall was one of two women (the other being Judith Hoare) to become the first women lawyers appointed to the Queensland Solicitor-General’s Office as legal officers. Appointed on 17 June 1976, she worked in the Conveyancing Branch. She was later appointed magistrate.