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Concept
Women in the development of Canberra’s sporting history

Historical Theme

The City of Canberra is home to elite sportswomen, such as champion basketballer, Lauren Jackson and influential administrators like Heather Reid, CEO of Capital Football. It is represented at a national level by teams like the Canberra Capitals in the Women’s National Basketball League and the Canberra Darters in the Australian Netball League. But perhaps, more importantly, Canberra is home to the largest number of ordinary weekend warriors in all Australia. According to an Australian Bureau of Statistics report, published in 2012, 78.8 % of Canberra women regularly participate in Sport and Recreation, 9.7% more than the nearest ‘rival’ Tasmania at 69.1%. If we combine this record with the important role that Canberra has played as a developer of elite talent, through the Australian Institute of Sport, and the development of policy to promote and encourage women in sport through the Australian Sports Commission’s Women’s Sports Unit, then it most certainly is not overstating it to say that women have been very important in putting Canberra on the map of the sporting world.

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Women’s Golf in Canberra

The history of golf in Canberra is as old as the history of the city itself and women’s involvement features almost from the outset.

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Aussie Stingers

Commonwealth or Empire Games Gold Medalist, Olympic sports team, Sports Team

The Aussie Stingers, officially the Australian Women’s Water Polo team, won gold at the Sydney Olympic in 2000 and bronze, in a tense shoot out against Hungary, at Beijing in 2008.

The Stingers are a team with an incredible record of success, having place regularly at both the regularly held World Cup and World Championship events.

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Aussie Spirit Softball
(1965 – )

Olympic sports team, Sports Team

Aussie Spirit Softball, the nickname for The Australian Open Women’s softball team, is one of Australia’s most successful sporting teams. Since softbal1996, Australia has medalled at all four events with Bronze in Atlanta (1996) Sydney (2000) and Beijing (2008) and Silver in Athens (2004).

Australia won the first ever International Softball Federation’s Women’s World Championship in 1965.

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Deaconess Orders

Although their story is old as the Christian Church and as varied as the denominations of that church, deaconesses have always been associated with outreach work aimed at offering spiritual an pastoral guidance. Protestant equivalents of the Catholic sisterhood, deaconesses in the modern era are trained and paid Christian workers who assist in the ministry of the church. Although duties and training have varied across denominations and historical and cultural settings, there has been one constant theme. Historically, deaconesses in Australia have brought the gospel of Jesus Christ and provided Christian care to disadvantaged people.

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Broken Hill Union Ban on Married Women Working
(1930 – 1981)

For over fifty years, union policy in Broken Hill prohibited married women from taking on paid employment unless they were professionally trained. Clerical and retail positions were to be kept open for young unmarried women or widows.

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Australian Opals

Commonwealth or Empire Games Gold Medalist, Olympic sports team, Sports Team

The Australian Opals is the Australian National Women’s Basketball Team.

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The Hockeyroos

Commonwealth or Empire Games Gold Medalist, Olympic sports team, Sports Team

The Hockeyroos are one of Australia’s most successful sporting teams. Their three gold medals from the past four Olympic Games, two World Cups, six Champions Trophies and two Commonwealth Games golds highlights the team’s outstanding run of success. The Hockeyroos have been crowned Australia’s Team of the Year five times and were unanimously awarded the Best Australian Team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

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Australian Netball Team

Commonwealth or Empire Games Gold Medalist, Sports Team

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The 1956 Australian Netball Team
(1956 – 1956)

Sports Team

The 1956 Australian Netball was the first team to ever beat England on home soil. The team revolutionised the way the sport was played and the tour was important to the establishment of an internationally consistent set of rules.

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Netball
(1900 – )

Sport

Netball is said to be the largest participant sport for girls and women in Australia, with four hundred thousand players registered with the All Australia Netball Association by the late 1990s, and an estimated further three hundred and fifty thousand not registered. It was a foundation sport of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in 1981. Ian Jobling and Pamela Barham suggest that the popularity of netball among women can be attributed to its versatility (it can be played on all surfaces at all age and skill levels), and its organisation by women for women.

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Hockey
(1900 – )

Sport

The game of hockey was brought to Australia by British Naval officers stationed around the country in the late 1800s. By 1900, according to Hockey Australia, the game was being played in private girls’ schools. Being a non-contact team sport, it was considered ideal for women. The first women’s hockey association was formed in New South Wales in 1908. Two years later, women’s clubs from Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia were competing alongside clubs from New South Wales at an interstate tournament at Rushcutter’s Bay, and from this tournament came the establishment of the Australian Women’s Hockey Association in July 1910 – fifteen years before the Australian Hockey Association (AHA) was formed in 1925. State hockey associations for men had been formed in South Australia, 1903; Victoria and New South Wales, 1906; Western Australia, 1908; and Queensland, 1920s. This division in the administration of men’s and women’s hockey continued in subsequent years. The Australian Women’s Hockey Association affiliated with the All England Women’s Hockey Association, and joined the International Federation of Women’s Hockey (IFWH) in 1927.

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Softball
(1939 – )

Sport

Invented in Chicago in 1887 and derived from the game of baseball, softball was introduced to Australia in 1939 when Canadian Gordon Young became director of physical education in New South Wales and promoted the game in schools. The game found its way to Victoria during the Second World War, when U.S. Army Sergeant William Duvernet organised softball as a recreational activity for U.S. nurses stationed there. Another American, Mack Gilley, brought the game to Queensland in 1946.

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Tennis
(1904 – )

Sport

Tennis Australia began as the Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia in 1904, when it was housed in Sydney, New South Wales. At this time, the Association was affiliated with New Zealand for the purposes of organising the Davis Cup and the Australasian Championships, but the two national bodies separated in 1922. In 1926, the Association moved to Melbourne where it became the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia and was presided over by (Sir) Norman Brookes until 1955. Following a worldwide growth in open tennis in the 1970s and 1980s, the Association became a company in 1984 and was renamed Tennis Australia in 1986.

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Lawn Bowls
(1845 – )

Sport

In 1990, the Australian Bowls Council (now Bowls Australia Inc.), the national administrative body for men’s bowling, was affiliated with 2,225 clubs. The Australian Women’s Bowling Council was parallel, with 2,185 affiliated clubs. By the late 1990s, Australia could boast 43% of the world’s bowling population.

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Italy Born Community of Australia

In the nineteenth century Italians priests performed missionary work in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and the Italian linguist Raffaello Carboni played a significant role in the Eureka Stockade revolt of 1854. Small Italian communities catered to miners on the goldfields of Victoria and Western Australia. In 1885 a group of some 300 migrants from northern Italy established a traditional Italian community called ‘New Italy’ in northern New South Wales (NSW). Italian fishermen also established communities along the south coast of NSW, Port Pirie and Fremantle. During this period Italian labourers arrived in Queensland to work on the cane fields. By the late 1930s, one third of all Australia’s Italian migrants lived in the cane-growing regions of Queensland. Italians also became involved in market gardens, comprising about 40 per cent of Queensland’s
market gardeners.

In 1947 the population of the Italy-born was 33,632 persons and by 1971 the number had increased to 289,476 persons. Most of the Italian migrants came from Sicily, Calabria and Veneto and settled in metropolitan areas. Italy experienced economic buoyancy after 1971, and this prompted many Italians to leave Australia and return to Italy. This led to a decline in the size of the Italian population in Australia. The 1996 Census recorded a drop in the number of Italy-born persons to 238,216.

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Lithuania Born Community of Australia

Lithuanians came in large numbers to Australia in the late 1940s and early 1950s as part of the wave of refugees from the Soviet-occupied Baltic states.

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Philippines Born Community of Australia

While most Philippines-born settlement in Australia is comparatively recent, contact between indigenous Australians and Filipino sailors in the north of the continent extends back well before Europeans arrived. Early census data shows that some of the sojourners stayed for good: there were approximately 700 Philippines-born persons in Australia at the turn of the century, mainly in Western Australia and Queensland.

The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 led to the introduction of policies excluding non-Europeans from entry to Australia (colloquially known as the ‘White Australia Policy’). This resulted in a significant decrease in the number of Philippines-born settlers in Australia. The number of Filipinos was down to 141 at the time of the 1947 Australian Census, and it was not until the 1950s that the population began to increase.

Significant numbers of Filipino students were allowed entry to Australia under the Colombo Plan and many chose to stay after graduation. An immigration policy reform in 1966 allowed well-qualified non-Europeans to immigrate to Australia. The Filipino population approximately doubled between every Census (every 5 years) to 1991, making it one of the fastest growing overseas-born populations in Australia.

The final repudiation of the ‘White Australia Policy’ and the declaration of martial law in the Philippines in 1972 led to rapid growth in the Philippines-born population in Australia over the next two decades. During the 1970s, many Filipino women migrated as spouses of Australian residents. Since then, most of the Philippines-born settlers have been sponsored by a family member.

Most Filipino migration occurred during the 1980s, peaking in 1987-1988. In the 1990s, settler arrivals began to decline and the growth in the Philippines-born population slowed. The 1991 Census recorded 73,673 living in Australia.

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Estonia Born Community of Australia

Most Australians of Estonian origin came here because of upheavals that occurred between 1940-50. During this time something like one in five Estonians was deported or forced to flee as a direct result of the Nazi and Soviet occupations and the associated military campaigns. Most Estonians in Australia were part of, or descended from, that group that fled westward.

The first Estonian Displaced Persons arrived on the ship the General Stuart Heintzelmann in 1947. This boatload, of whom 142 were Estonian, had been carefully chosen to show Australians that Baltic Displaced People were blond, blue-eyed and thoroughly assimilable. Young and well educated, they were determined to do well in Australia but equally determined to preserve their culture. They made a conscious effort to do so and established the Estonian Archives in 1952.

Prior to the mass migration period that directly followed the second world war, very few Estonian migrants to Australia lived outside New South Wales. Their numbers were sufficient enough, however, to form organisations and provide community support to the post-war Displaced Person community that grew after 1947. After this time, significant communities grew up in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Most of this scattered but well organised population came about as the result of a burst of immigration between 1947 and 1952, with a small number arriving until 1958, but very few after that time.

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Netherlands Born Community of Australia

There is a long history of contact between Holland and Australia. In early 1606, William Jansz of Amsterdam, captain of the Duyfken (Little Dove) landed on Cape York Peninsula. A number of Dutch ships sank off the Western Australian coast in the 1600s and survivors reportedly established relationships with local Aborigines. By 1644, Abel Tasman had completed a partial circumnavigation of Australia which revealed, for the first time, the size of the continent. The resulting incomplete map of New Holland was not superseded until the arrival of Captain Cook in 1770.

During the 1850s gold rushes Dutch merchant ships continued to visit Australia but immigration of the Netherlands-born remained negligible. Until 1947, when the Census recorded 2,174 Netherlands born, the number of people arriving from the Netherlands were offset by a large proportion of departures of Netherlands-born from Australia. This trend has continued to the present day, apart from a period of high migration during the 1950s and 1960s.

After the Second World War, many Dutch people suffered severe economic and social dislocation in Holland. With an already high population density, a relatively small land area and the highest birth rate in Europe, the Netherlands faced a severe housing crisis and rising unemployment, due mainly to the mechanisation of agriculture. Dutch authorities actively supported emigration as a partial solution to the problem of overcrowding.

Meanwhile, immigration policy change meant that Australia was looking for acceptable migrants from non-British sources. The hard working rural Dutch, with their linguistic and cultural affinities with the Australian population, were seen to be ideal immigrants. Both the Australian and Netherlands Governments contributed to the cost of passage, while the Australian Government accepted the responsibility for assisting settlement. As a result, during the 1950s Australia was the destination of 30 per cent of Dutch emigrants and the Netherlands-born became numerically the second largest non-British group. Their numbers peaked in 1961 at 102,134.

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Greece Born Community of Australia

The experience of Greek-Australians is an integral part of Australian History. Since first arriving in the late 1810s, Greeks have made significant contributions to the nation’s cultural diversity and prosperity. Today, descendants of the earliest arrivals, immigrants, and their Australian-born children inhabit vital communities throughout the country, the inheritors of a vigorous Greek culture secured through the determined efforts of their forebears.

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Latvia Born Community of Australia

Although there was some Latvian migration to Australia in the aftermath of the abortive 1905 revolution against Tsarist Russia, the most significant wave of Latvian emigrants arrived after the second world war. During the war Latvia was under Soviet occupation and the Latvian people were subjected to oppression and mass deportations. By 1945, 156,000 Latvians had escaped to western Europe. They were among the 12 million war refugees awaiting resettlement in Displaced Persons camps. Approximately 20,000 Latvians arrived in Australia between November 27, 1947, and the end of 1952.

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Ukraine Born Community of Australia

Ukraine is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea in south-eastern Europe. The area of present-day Ukraine was populated only by Scythian nomads until the 6th century AD, when Slavic people begin to settle in the area. An organised political entity, known as Rus, evolved around Kyiv. (Russia, which later evolved around the principality of Moscow, did not yet exist).

In the fifteenth century Ukraine became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and then of the Polish-Lithuanian ‘Commonwealth’ (Rzeczpospolita), until the eastern half of the country was finally annexed by Muscovy in the seventeenth century. With the annexation of the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth by Russia in 1795, the whole of Ukraine came under Russia’s rule until 1918.

Ukrainians managed to establish an independent Ukrainian state in 1918, but it could not withstand simultaneous attacks by Poland from the west and Russia from the east. Ultimately the fighting ended in the partition of Ukraine between Poland and the USSR. Ukrainians suffered greatly under Stalin’s repression during the inter-war period. An artificially-induced famine, in which Ukrainians estimate about six million
people died, was used by Stalin to forcibly implement the collectivisation of agriculture in Ukraine. Ukraine remained occupied by the USSR until 1991, when the latter was dismantled.

It is believed that prior to World War I up to 5,000 Ukrainian workers had settled in Australia. Ukraine was a major area of conflict in World War II and many Ukrainians fled to Western Europe, where they were interned as Displaced Persons (DPs). The first Ukrainians began arriving from the refugee camps in late 1948. They came to Australia on assisted passages which included two-year work contracts with the Commonwealth Government. Among the migrants were priests, lawyers, doctors and engineers, but the vast majority were people from a rural background.

The 1947 census did not list Ukraine as a birthplace, but the 1954 Census recorded 14,757 Ukraine-born. After that the number of migrants from the Soviet Ukraine was negligible, apart from some Ukrainian Jews. There was also limited migration of Ukrainians from communities in Poland and
Yugoslavia. Migration from Ukraine has only been significant since independence in 1991. The 1996 Census recorded 13,460 Ukraine-born people resident in Australia (up from 9,051 at the 1991 Census). Most live in Victoria and New South Wales.

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Poland Born Community of Australia

The first contact between Poland-born people and Australia occurred in 1696, when several citizens of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth were included in the crew of Captain Willem Vlamingh’s Dutch expedition which explored the Western Australian coast. The first Polish settler in Australia was a convict who arrived in 1803 and became a successful wheat farmer in Tasmania.

Later arrivals included a group of Poland born people who established a community in South Australia which grew to about 400 people by the 1880s. Some Poles joined the goldrush to Australia in the 1850s. The 1921 Australian Census recorded 1,780 Poland born residents and by the 1933 Census their number had almost doubled.

Following World War II, many Polish refugees came to Australia and during the period between 1947 and 1954, the Poland born population increased from 6,573 to 56,594 people. Many refugees worked under a two-year contract in unskilled jobs and continued in similar work for a period after their contracts ended. There was further emigration from Poland to Australia after the Polish government relaxed its emigration laws with almost 15,000 Poland born people coming to Australia between the years 1957 and 1966. By the 1966 Census, the Poland-born population had reached 61,641 people.

In the early 1980s there was further Polish emigration from Poland to Australia. The emergence of the Solidarity trade union movement and the declaration of martial law in Poland at the end of 1981 coincided with a further relaxation of Polish emigration laws. During the period 1980-91 Australia granted permanent entry to more than 25,000 Poland-born settlers, many arriving as refugees. The Poland-born population of Australia peaked at 68,496 at the 1991 Census. Since then the improvement in living conditions in Poland, as well as more stringent migration criteria, have significantly reduced the levels of Polish migration to Australia from the high levels of 1981-85.

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Youth and Multicultural Affairs, Australian Red Cross Victoria

The Victorian Junior Red Cross began under a Central Committee in 1921-1922, following the New South Wales Division in 1918. Between the two world wars, the Junior Red Cross was a major part of the peacetime programme of the Victorian Red Cross. In World War II, the Victorian Division’s Junior Red Cross restructured, sponsored by local Red Cross branches, companies and Links of Service. From the 1950s, Junior Circles again formed in schools. In the 1970s, its overall name became Red Cross Youth. In the 1990s, it expanded programs as Youth and Education Services (YES), becoming Youth and Multicultural Affairs in 2003.

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Branches and Regions, Australian Red Cross Victoria

Initially, major cities were represented on Victoria’s Provisional Committee for the Red Cross, and branches sprung up across the State. Branches reported to the Victorian Division, and Annual Reports. As many began to disband in peacetime, branches were reviewed in the mid-1920s. In World War II, they were boosted when Philadelphia Robertson became Director of Branches, with other prominent appointments following, and a greater regional focus in the 1960s. By the late 1990s, branches, and six administration zones, came under Services and Membership. In 2003, development of Membership and Volunteers warranted a separate section. Branches have been particularly active in local fundraising and community services.

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International Humanitarian Law, Australian Red Cross

As the International Committee of the Red Cross has been the ‘guardian’ of the Geneva Conventions on armed warfare, International Humanitarian Law is the basis of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. As a result, Australian Red Cross national Presidents and other leading women, such as Philadelphia Robertson, have been prominent in this field and in international conferences of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.