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Galbraith, Jean
(1906 – 1999)

Author, Botanical collector, Botanist

Galbraith, a prominent Victorian naturalist, joined the Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria in 1923 and in 1970 was awarded their Australian Natural History Medallion. In 1950 she published Wildflowers of Victoria which by 1970 had gone to three editions.

Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia
(1972 – )

Lobby group

The Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) was established in Melbourne in 1972 by Beatrice Faust. She was inspired by feminists in the United States who had been rating presidential candidates. The organisation quickly spread to Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra and in 1978 WEL Australia was formed as a coalition of state, territory and regional groups. Primarily a women’s political lobby group, WEL surveyed political candidates and their policies affecting women, wrote submissions and developed media skills for women to lobby for the inclusion of women in the area of government policy. Originally the WEL campaign was based on six demands: equal pay, equal employment opportunity, equal access to education, free contraceptive services, abortion on demand and free 24-hour childcare.

Reid, Elizabeth Anne
(1942 – )

Consultant, Educator, Political scientist, Public speaker, Researcher

In 1973 Elizabeth Reid became the first adviser on women’s affairs to a head of state, being appointed in this capacity for Australian Labour Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Reid went on to work as an adviser, administrator, consultant, educator and researcher in an international setting on issues of women and development, health and population. She is currently based in Canberra, a Visiting Fellow, State, Society and Governance Program, College of Asia and the Pacific, at the Australian National University, and an analyst, programmer, consultant and trainer in development and humanitarian assistance.

Ryan, Edna Minna
(1904 – 1997)

Activist, Feminist, Trade unionist, Writer

Edna Ryan was a leading figure in three eras of feminism in the 20th century. As a feminist and labour activist she is credited with achieving equal pay for women, maternity leave and work based child care. Ryan wrote numerous articles, conference papers, submissions to government and two books, Gentle invaders (1975) and Two thirds of a man (1984).

Hunter, Thelma Anna Carmela
(1923 – 2016)

Academic, Political scientist, Women's liberationist

Dr Thelma Hunter was a feminist political scientist, whose academic career was mostly spent at the Australian National University (ANU). She described herself as a teacher, scholar and writer. As well as teaching university students, she worked in schools, in adult education and in preparatory courses for mature age non-matriculants seeking university entry. Before establishing her academic career, she contributed occasional articles to UK newspapers, and was later a regular contributor to the Canberra Times. A hobby artist, she offered drawing workshops to staff and students at ANU, having earlier studied art in evening classes in Sydney and at Dartington College, Devon.

For Thelma Hunter the personal was political; her academic interests in women’s employment, the status of women and the obstacles arising from combining work with marriage and family reflected her own experience. Growing up in an Italian family in Scotland, and later migrating with her family to Australia, Thelma Hunter also identified as a migrant.

Owen, Mary
(1921 – 2017)

Trade unionist, Women's liberationist

Mary Owen was founding Coordinator of The Working Women’s Centre Melbourne, 1975-1986, when it was absorbed into the Australian Council of Trade Unions. She was a staff member of AAESDA (Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors & Draughtsmen of Australia), 1965 -1975 and a member of La Trobe University Council 1983-1990. She was appointed Deputy Chancellor of La Trobe University 1989. A founding member of Emily’s List, Mary Owen was also a Member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) for over forty-three years. She represented WEL on many Government committees, making a significant impact on policies advancing the status of women, especially the fight for equal pay.

In 1986 the first Mary Owen Dinner was organised in Melbourne to celebrate Mary’s retirement. Held annually, the event lasted twenty years. There was always a female keynote speaker and the audience, normally in the order of 600 women, wearing the feminist colours of purple, green and white, was a sight to behold. The last dinner was held in 2005.

Mary Owen was a very early supporter of the Australian Women’s Archives Project, which began as a community based organisation’s response to a request from Mary Owen for help with conserving the records of her long and varied contribution to public life.

Born in 1921, Mary was a woman who effected change – and made Australia a better, more equal place for all of us coming after her. She died 23 March, 2017.

Street, Jessie Mary Grey
(1889 – 1970)

Feminist, Suffragette

Jessie Street was recognised nationally and internationally for her activism in women’s rights, social justice and peace. Street campaigned for equality of status for women, equal pay, the appointment of women to public office and the election of women to parliament. Co-founder of the New South Wales Social Hygiene Association (1916) and Co-founder (1928) and President of the United Associations of Women, she was the only woman on the Australian delegation to the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945 and established the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Charter of Women’s Rights.

Ryan, Lyndall
(1943 – )

Academic, Educator, Feminist, Historian

Lyndall Ryan was a member of the first Sydney Women’s Liberation Group in 1970. In 1974 she joined the Commonwealth Public Service as a policy analyst on women’s health and child care. She became an academic in 1977 and has held positions in Australian Studies and Women’s Studies at Griffith and Flinders Universities. She was appointed to the position of Foundation Professor of Australian Studies and Head of School of Humanities at the University of Newcastle in 1998.

Cultural Artefact
Australian Women’s Charter
(1943 – )

Feminist Manifesto

The Australian Women’s Charter was a program of reforms put forward by women for incorporation into government planning of postwar reconstruction. Described as ‘the feminist agenda for postwar reconstruction’ and ‘a landmark feminist manifesto’, the charter documented a wide range of issues and objectives that were discussed at the Australian Women’s Conference For Victory in War and Victory in Peace, held in Sydney in November 1943. It ranged over a series of issues – women’s right to paid work, the necessity for adequate child care, the particular needs of rural and Aboriginal women amongst them – and reflected the conference participants’ agenda for women in the post war world, an agenda that was influenced heavily by women’s wartime experiences. A series of publications, programs and follow-up Charter conferences were organized to plan and campaign for the implementation of its aims.

Coleman, Marie Yvonne
(1933 – )

Educator, Feminist, Journalist, Medical Social Worker, Public servant, Researcher, Social activist, Statutory Office Holder

Marie Coleman was the first woman to head a Commonwealth Government statutory agency, and the first woman to hold the powers of Permanent Head under the Public Service Act. She was founding Secretary of the National Foundation for Australian Women, one of the NFAW Board of Directors who worked to establish the Australian Women’s Archives Project (AWAP), and remains active in community organisations and public life in her retirement. She was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1989 for contributions to public administration. In 2001 she was awarded the Centenary Medal. In 2011 she was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia.