Sort by (Relevance)
Henderson, Robyn Lyn
(1947 – )

Administrator, Politician, Women's rights activist

Robyn Henderson is a feminist activist, former politician and public sector manager who has devoted many years to reducing inequalities in Australian society through her work in both non-government and government agencies. She was elected to the ACT House of Assembly in 1979, serving until 1985, and was very active in the development of abortion counselling, family planning and women’s refuge services in the ACT. She has worked in many areas of social policy and public administration in the NSW State and Commonwealth governments, and on aid projects in Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

Davidson, Emma

Community activist, Politician

Emma Davidson was first elected to the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory as a Member for Murrumbidgee in 2020, after a career in software development, social research and advocacy in the community sector. She was appointed a Minister in the Labor-Greens Government, holding portfolios in Mental Health, Population Health, Corrections and Justice Health, and Community Services.

Andrew, Rose
(1910 – 1998)

Community activist

Rose Andrew was elected an independent member of the sixteenth ACT Advisory Council in September 1961. She served one three-year term during which she supported community development such as proposing a heated swimming pool be built in Canberra. One of two female members of the Council, she did not seek re-election in 1964. Prior to being elected to the ACT Advisory Council she was President of the Canberra branch of the Country Women’s Association of Australia (CWA) in 1959.

Musa, Helen Margaret OAM
(1948 – )

Arts advocate, Critic, Drama teacher, Dramaturg, Editor, Journalist

Helen Musa enrolled in theatre studies at the University of New South Wales in the early 1960s and spent the subsequent twenty years teaching drama at secondary and tertiary level, including in Malaysia, while involving herself in theatrical productions of all sorts. In 1990 she became the editor of Muse, a monthly arts magazine, later becoming the Arts Editor for The Canberra Times and the founder and convenor of the Canberra Critics Circle. In 2015, she received a Medal in the Order of Australia for her service to the performing and visual arts as a critic and magazine editor and, in 2020, she was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll for her advocacy for the visual and performing arts in Canberra and Australia.

Helen Musa was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2020.

Reed-Gilbert, Kerry
(1956 – 2019)

Activist, Artist, Consultant, Educator, Writer

Kerry Reed-Gilbert was an Aboriginal author, editor, educator and activist. A number of books of her poetry were published in her lifetime. She also compiled and contributed to numerous anthologies, and produced non-fiction related to her work as an educator and consultant. Her memoir, The Cherry Picker’s Daughter was published in 2019, shortly after her death. Her friend and fellow Wiradjuri writer, Jeanine Leane described her as ‘the matriarch of First Nations’ Writing in Australia’.

Kerry Reed-Gilbert was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2019.

Taverner, Leslie Ellen
(1925 – )

Homemaker, Pool Manager

Leslie Taverner was recognised, together with her husband Owen and son John, for her contribution in managing and conserving the buildings and grounds of Manuka Pool in the Australian Capital Territory from 1955 to 2012 by their inscription on the ACT Honour Walk in 2016.

Leslie Taverner was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2016 following the Taverner family inscription on the ACT Honour Walk.

Waterhouse, Dawn OAM
(1923 – )

Community Historian, Homemaker, Laboratory assistant

In her long life since her birth in 1923, Dawn Waterhouse has been a participant in the development of the Canberra community and the city’s evolution as the National Capital from the transfer of the Commonwealth Parliament to Canberra in 1927 to the present day.

Dawn Waterhouse was inscribed on the ACT Honour Walk in 2019.

Whetnall, Tracey Fowler
(1963 – 2019)

Public servant

Tracey Whetnall’s lifelong dedication to making a difference through supporting Aboriginal people was recognised by her inclusion on the ACT Honour Walk in 2020. She had been appointed the first Indigenous Official Visitor to the Alexander Maconochie Centre in 2011 and also conducted many cultural awareness workshops for staff of the Australian Federal Police and ACT Corrective Services.

Tracey Whetnall was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2020.

Gallagher, Evelyn Melita
(1877 – 1946)

Army Nurse, Nurse

Evelyn Gallagher served from 1916 to 1919 with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) in World War I in India, Egypt and England. She was one of three female Gallagher family members from Browns Flat, a farming settlement between Queanbeyan and Bungendore in New South Wales later part of the ACT, who served overseas as nurses in World War I. After the war she was matron of a private hospital at Nowra.

McKnight, Alma Alberta
(1886 – 1967)

Army Nurse, Nurse

Alma McKnight served overseas with the Australian Army Nursing Service in Egypt from 1917 to 1919. Before enlisting she had nursed briefly at Duntroon Military College Hospital Canberra after training at Dubbo Hospital.

Boelke, Grace Fairley
(1870 – 1948)

Doctor, Surgeon

Grace Boelke was one of the first women medical graduates of the University of Sydney. Founder of the Professional Women’s Association, she was a strong advocate of improved conditions for women.

During her lifetime, Boelke held positions in a variety of community organisations, including:

  • Vice-President, Town Planning Organisation of New South Wales
  • Convenor, Standing Committee on Health, National Council of Women of New South Wales
  • Vice-President, Australian League of Nations (New South Wales branch)
Brewer, Ilma Mary
(1915 – 2006)

Academic, Botanist, Educator

Ilma Mary Brewer studied and later taught botany at the University of Sydney. She developed new methods of teaching based on the principle that a student learnt more by working at their own pace and through self-instruction. She outlined her methods in Learning more and teaching less: a decade of innovation in self-instruction and small group learning, published in 1985.

As well as working in academia, Brewer also spent time working for the Australian military and in private industry in the United States.

She attended North Sydney Girls’ High School before enrolling at the University of Sydney in the 1930s.

Gale, Kathleen Windeyer
(1890 – 1976)

Headmistress, Teacher

Kathleen (Winnie) Windeyer Gale established the Audley Girls’ School in Killara in the late 1920s.

O’Reilly, Susannah Hennessy
(1881 – 1960)

Medical practitioner, Obstetrician

Susie O’Reilly was a popular family doctor and renowned as an obstetrician. She was co-founder of the New South Wales Association of Registered Medical Women in 1921 and became life governor of the Rachel Forster Hospital for Women and Children in 1959.

Browne, Ida Alison
(1900 – 1976)

Academic, Geologist, Palaeontologist

Ida Alison Browne lectured in palaeontology at the University of Sydney from 1935 to 1950, before working jointly with her husband, William Rowan Browne, a renowned geologist.

She was educated at Fort Street Girls’ High School in Sydney, before attending the University of Sydney where, in 1922, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science, with First Class Honours. She was awarded the University Medal in geology. In 1932, she was awarded a Doctorate of Science.

Later in her career, she served as a Member of the Australian National Research Council.

Bembrick, Amy Glenthora
(1893 – 1949)

Army Nurse, Child welfare worker

Amy Glenthora Bembrick, born at Grenfell New South Wales, served with the Australian Army Nursing Service in World War I in Salonika. After her marriage to Charles William James Gumbley, an Anglican Minister, she was active in Adelaide during the Second World War as ‘camp mother’ for disadvantaged boys.

Boon, Gladys Elizabeth Clare
(1891 – 1948)

Army Nurse, Nurse

Gladys Elizabeth Clare Boon served in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) at Salonika, Greece from 1917 to 1919 and then briefly in England before returning to Australia. Trained at Orange Hospital, she nursed at Bathurst District Hospital and Wallsend Hospital before her marriage to Arthur Firkin in 1925.

Gallagher, Flora
(1874 – 1938)

Army Nurse, Nurse

Flora Gallagher served from 1915 to 1918 as a nurse in World War I in Egypt, England and France. She was one of three female Gallagher family members from Browns Flat, a farming settlement between Queanbeyan and Bungendore in New South Wales, which later became part of the ACT, who served overseas as nurses in World War I.

Gallagher, Janet Isobel
(1880 – 1957)

Army Nurse, Nurse

Janet Isobel Gallagher was one of three female members of the Gallagher family who served overseas with the Australian Army Nursing Service during World War I. She was a niece of Flora Gallagher and Evelyn Gallagher and like them was born at Browns Flat, a farming settlement near Burbong between Queanbeyan and Bungendore in New South Wales, now within the eastern border of the Australian Capital Territory. She enlisted in 1916 and spent most of the War nursing in India with service also in Egypt and England.

Edna Ryan Awards
(1998 – )


The Edna Ryan Awards were established in 1998 by the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW. The Awards honour Edna Ryan’s life and work and are awarded to women who have made a feminist difference.

Mayo, Florence Josephine
(1886 – 1965)

Single mother, War widow

During World War I, Queanbeyan citizens, at a public meeting held soon after news that her husband, Private John Charles Mayo, had been killed in action at Bullecourt in 1917, decided to provide a home for Florence Mayo and her two young daughters. Raising money proved more difficult than expected and Florence, described as ‘a plucky woman’, partly financed her land and weatherboard cottage by taking out a mortgage. She lived in Queanbeyan for the rest of her life.

Read a longer essay on Florence Mayo in the online exhibition War Widows of the ACT: A Forgotten Legacy of World War I.

McKean, Isabella
(1869 – 1939)

Poultry farmer, War widow

Isabella McKean was widowed when her husband, Scottish-born David Thornton McKean, was killed in action while serving with the AIF on the Western Front on 14 November 1916. For a few years before World War I, McKean worked as a plasterer with the Department of Home Affairs. In 1913, Isabella moved to Canberra from Weddin, where she had been active in church and social events, to join her husband but had trouble finding accommodation. She was living in Berowra when her husband was killed. In 1919 she married a former AIF solider and partly supported herself keeping poultry.

Read a longer essay on Isabella McKean in the online exhibition War Widows of the ACT: A Forgotten Legacy of World War I.

Bridges, Edith Lilian
(1862 – 1926)

Mother, War widow

Lady Bridges was the initial president of the Friendly Union of Soldiers’ Wives and Mothers, set up by her friend Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, wife of the Governor General, early in World War I to provide support for families of soldiers of the first AIF. The shock of the death of her husband, Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges, Commander of the first AIF, less than a month after the landing at Gallipoli and the prolonged and very public commemorative ceremonies associated with the return of his body to Australia and his reburial in Canberra, affected her health to the extent that the following year she retired from public life.

An adopted child, Edith’s life was punctuated by tragedy including the loss of her first-born son soon after birth, the drowning of one of her seven-year-old twin girls in a boating accident on Sydney Harbour and the death of a 17-year-old son at boarding school in England. During World War I in addition to the loss of her husband, she worried constantly about her son Major Noel Bridges DSO, who fought at Gallipoli and the Western Front and was wounded in Flanders in 1918. Born Edith Lillian Francis in 1862 near Moruya, Lady Bridges died in Melbourne in 1926, aged 64, and was buried in St John’s Churchyard, Canberra.

Read a longer essay on Lady Bridges in the online exhibition War Widows of the ACT: A Forgotten Legacy of World War I.

Jackson Pulver, Lisa Rae
(1959 – )

Academic, Advisor, Educator, Researcher

Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services, at Sydney University in September 2018.

Bishop, Clare
(1945 – )

Public servant

Clare Bishop graduated in catering and hotel management before joining the Department of Immigration in Canberra in 1970, serving in London 1971-74, Edinburgh in 1975-77 and New York 1977-80. After helping organize the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Melbourne in 1981, she was sent to Cologne to process refugees from Poland, and to the Philippines to process spouse applications. From 1984-86 she was First Secretary in the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, then Consul in New York to 1990. From 1993 until her retirement in 2000, she was responsible for overhauling all the Department’s forms.

Bennett, Portia Mary
(1898 – 1989)


Portia Bennett was born in Sydney in 1898. In 1913-14 she attended classes under Dattilo Rubbo at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, then won a scholarship to Julian Ashton’s Sydney Art School, where she studied at night between 1915-1919. During the day she attended the Blackfriars Teachers College, where she taught art from 1921-5. In 1925 she married William Wallace and moved to Queensland and then, in 1932, came to Perth, Western Australia. Bennett helped found the Perth Society of Artists, working with Muriel Southern, Florence Hall and Margaret Johnson to establish a place for women artists in Western Australia.

Bennett’s preference for architecture over painting as a career is reflected in her fascination with the city and modern recently constructed buildings, and she painted many watercolour studies of the architecture around Perth. This was also in keeping with a Modernist aesthetic – the city as centre for commerce, leisure and display – and a concomitant rejection of traditional pastoral landscapes as subjects for study. Bennett also used conventions of perspective but chose unusual vantage points, which allowed the foregrounding of certain objects which added an abstract quality to works that were highly realistic. As Dr. Sally Quin, curator of the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, observed, “Portia Bennett claims a unique place as observer and interpreter of the city.” Bennett died in Perth in 1989, aged 91.

Constable, Hon. Dr. Elizabeth
(1943 – )


Dr Elizabeth Constable was an independent candidate elected to the Thirty-Third Parliament of Western Australia for the Legislative Assembly seat of Floreat at a by-election on 20 July 1991 held to fill the vacancy consequent upon the resignation of Hon Andrew Mensaros. The electorate was abolished in the redistribution of 1994. She was then elected to the Thirty-Fifth Parliament for Churchlands (new seat) on 14 December 1996. She was re-elected in 2001, 2005 and 2008.