1.   overwork, economic deprivation and ill–health
2.   1880’s melbourne tailoresses strike
3.   and also …
4.   1885 the victorian lady teachers’ association
5.   1895 anti sweating leagues
6.   1895 “our opponents”  betrayal
7.   the public service act  betrayal

8.   1903 women in politics
9.   1904  victorian employers federation betrayal
10. 1907 the harvester decision  betrayal
11.1910-11 other pre-war actions
12. 1911 'the match girls' strikes
13. 1911 factories and shops acts  betrayal
14. 1912 justice (?) higgins  betrayal

15. 1912 equal pay for teachers betrayal
16. the women's political association supported the teachers
17. 1913 lady teachers’ association resolution
18. the clerks’ wages board determination 
20. 1914 teachers’ equal pay claim betrayal
21. 1914 war - 'the wicked waste of life'  betrayal

22. 1915 food prices up, unemployment, poverty
23. 1915 wpa (women’s political association) women's labour bureau
24. victorian association of benevolent societies betrayal
25. response from the women’s political ass.n
26. women’s labour bureau defunded  betrayal
27. 1915 agitating and lobbying - unemployed women
28. not only women

29. australian women’s national league (awnl) opposed the wpa betrayal
30. 1915 the women's rural co-operative
31. the international congress of women
32. prime minister's visit to london  betrayal
33. declining birthrate blamed on women  betrayal
34. 1915 cost of living demonstrations
35. 1915 unemployment and the women's labour councils
36. equal pay provision broken down betrayal

37. nursing in war
38. salaries cut  betrayal
39. the commonwealth clothing factory  betrayal
40. 1917 'we want work adjourn the house'
41. more anti feminist betrayal
42. peace has come betrayal


43. living standards falling
44. 1918 returned nurses' conditions betrayal
45. 1916-18 muriel (heagney) had got a job
46. 1919 the basic wage betrayal
47. a “where is the bachelor tax”? betrayal
48. 1925–6 women’s activism
49. shall not by sex or marriage

50. 1926 the clothing trade union claims
51. unemployment in the depression
52. 1930 the heagney-riley report on unemployed women
53. 1930 unemployed girls' relief movement
54. the communist party of australia  betrayal?
55. 1932 nationalist party  betrayal
56. miss heagney ceases work?  betrayal

57. social insecurity – wages cuts betrayal
58. 1930-1933 overwork, economic deprivation and ill-health again
59. the human right to decide for herself  betrayal
60. 1935 they worked for equal pay
61. 1937 they formed the council of action for equal pay (caep)
62. teachers’ conditions betrayal
63. recognising the service … and that men share the housework

64. wages for wives paid by husbands betrayal
65. 1941 muriel heagney's six point policy
66. 1941 women's cheap labour exploited 
67. 1941 1942 the australian women's land army (awla)
68. 1943 female rates betrayal
69. women's place in post-war reconstruction?
70. 1953 proposed wage reductions for women betrayal
71. equal pay rallies in 1955, and 1957
72. (premier?) bolte's response  betrayal
73. kath williams came out fighting


74. it all began – zelda d’aprano
75. 1968 equal basics wage case
76. 1969 equal pay case betrayal
77. the commonwealth government chain-up
78. police response
79. arbitration commission chain up
80. calling out slogans, waving banners
81. 1970 we earn 75%, we pay 75% the trams

82. what is women’s liberation?
83. woman is moving
84. background to equal pay demands
85. 1972 equal pay for work of equal value
86. 1972 childcare
87. 1956-75 women's struggle to become tram drivers in Melbourne
88. 1974 tramway women's struggle  betrayal
89. 1974 taking men's jobs? (again) minimum wage case

90. women who work in shops protest 91. women picket everhot
92. women’s action alliance et al betrayal 
93. “not wishing to help asio further …”
94. religion – catholic action - national civic council betrayal
95. women members of national civic council betrayal
96. 1974 waa “homemaker's allowance” betrayal
97. i am not a housewife
98. social welfare cuts betrayal
99. whose right to choose?
100. beyond equality

1919 the zurich women’s international conference
APPENDIX 2 join the council for women in war work
APPENDIX 3 the 1946 australian women’s charter
1978 waa women's report to national civic council melbourne
APPENDIX 5 the women’s liberation manifesto


22-28 on this page


Patricia Gowland:
By August 1915 food prices were up 41%, according to the Commonwealth statistician. Unemployment and poverty was a real problem for many women. Vida Goldstein became bitter at public indifference to the suffering of unemployed women:

"Collect in the streets for Belgium and eight thousand, eight hundred pounds is the result; collect for unemployed women - ten pounds sixteen."

Women, Class and History ed. Elizabeth Windschuttle, Fontana 1980 p.266

The number of necessitous women on our books grows daily, and those who are working here are very inadequately helped. We see them growing thinner and shabbier every day, and it is of the greatest moment that the well-to-do should assist us in our work.

We hear complaints by women that the Government is slow to utilise their services for the prosecution of the war, and to them we say: "The most valuable munitions of war are men who bear arms and the mothers who bear children. Every hour sees the birth of potential men and women, under conditions which make it impossible for them to live to maturity. Surely it is women's duty to provide for these future citizens.

Instead of knitting and sewing for the soldiers, let the Government provide all that is necessary for the troops, paying fair wages for the work - and pay your income tax without complaint. Surely you will forego luxury, that others may have men and women worthy of your race in the future. Do not make shirts and socks at home or in the trams and trains, but pay for them to be done by those who need the work.

Six hundred mothers here are starving for what you will not give. Is this your patriotism - that you will see your own fellow women, of your own blood, starve? If you want to sew, make us a maternity set, which will clothe a naked baby, and a suffering woman to whose mother's agony is added cold, hunger and despair.

Help the women and children of Australia who are the backbone of the British race. Women, your country needs you. Stop knitting and send in your orders for socks at once. God save Australia's people.”

Woman Voter, August  26th 1915 University of Melbourne

(Vida Goldstein) responded indignantly to the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Daniel Mannix, who had criticised women for the declining birth-rate. Although she had been addressing the issue since 1901, the war heightened her passionate defence of women's right to choose not to have children.

"Women are not going to be made breeding machines for the god of war ... for women will increasingly refuse to give life that men may take it ..."

Janette M Bomford That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman Vida Goldstein Melbourne University Press 1993 p.166


Distress in Melbourne –

A Scheme to Help Unemployed Women ... We want to take some practical steps. Charity is useless and harmful. The WPA, therefore, will attempt to organise the women workers in industries from which they themselves will draw the sole profit.

For this purpose we are asking for:-
1. The names and addresses of all unemployed women.
2. The names and addresses of wives of unemployed men.
3. Suggestions from members and friends with regard to work that might be carried out by women on a co-operative basis.

We call the earnest attention of our readers to this project, for it is of the utmost importance to the movement and the State.

Woman Voter 23 Feb 1915 December 15 1914

WOMEN SEEKING WORK Housewives enquire - Apprised by a statement from Miss Vida Goldstein of the Women's Political Association appearing in these columns yesterday, that the services of charwomen could be obtained through the association's employment bureau, several housewives made application today, and were supplied with the help needed.

Miss Goldstein is of the opinion that if housewives will make a practice of applying to the association in this way, many distressed women will be able to earn enough money to keep the wolf from the door. Even if a housewife needs a woman for an hour only, she need not hesitate to apply. Arlington Chambers, 229 Collins St., Melbourne Central 8013

The Herald February 18 1915


The Victorian Association of Benevolent Societies seemed to think this was a good opportunity to find cheap servants:

To the Editor, Sir, The question of finding work fork for women is receiving much thought at the present time. It were wise that women would realise that we are at war, and, like men, play their part. We know that many opportunities are offering in the domestic sphere… At this time, all honest work is work done for the country...

When peace comes, I think we shall find ourselves little the worse for wear for our experience in manual work, though we may not have been able to command the same return. We shall feel all the better, realising that we have assisted our country by solving a problem which women alone are able to do. Let us accept this as our part in the national burden.

Find all the work possible, and let the unemployed accept it in the spirit in which it is found, even if it be less remunerative, and not as congenial as that to which they are accustomed. I suggest they (unemployed women) register with the Ladies Benevolent Society ...Yours etc. Jessie I Henderson, President, Victorian Association of Ladies Benevolent Society, 89 Harcourt Street, Hawthorn.

The Argus February 22 1915

(The Ladies Benevolent Society still existed when Edith Morgan was working as the first social worker at Collingwood Council in the1970’s).

Edith Morgan:
By the time I came to Collingwood Council Singleton's Health Clinic  was run by the Ladies' Benevolent Society and I saw some horrific things happening.

There was a man who was sent home without treatment. He was found sitting at home, dead, a week or so later.

The gangrene in his leg was so bad he hadn't been able to leave the chair since he crawled back from Singleton's.

Women's Web - Women's Stories, Women's Actions www.womensweb.com.au


Woman Voter, 23 February 1915 p.3:
Sir, your plea on behalf of unemployed women will, we hope, result in something practical being done immediately. We have urged at the outset that the employment problem intensified by was should be dealt with by a central board ... subsidised by the Commonwealth and State governments ...

It is futile to think that the unemployment problem as it affects women will be solved by offering them domestic service.

The majority who are suffering most severely are widows, or deserted wives with young children dependent on them, or married women whose husbands are out of work or unmarried women who have not the physical stamina necessary for domestic service ...

If employers will take women with one or two young children, we can supply any number of them from our Women's Bureau. The women want work, not charity.

For Love or Money a pictorial history of women and work in Australia
Penguin 1981 p.69


Patricia Gowland:
The government granted 45 pounds per week to the (women’s labour) bureau, until July 1916 when the pacifism of the Women's Political Association became intolerable in the atmosphere of wartime hysteria. The bureau was forced to close and its activities taken over by the establishment-endorsed "Ladies Benevolent Society."

Women, Class and History ed. Elizabeth Windschuttle, Fontana 1980


The Women's Political Association held a meeting on unemployed women's situation on 22 February 1915. Women's Political Association:

At a meeting of the Women's Political Association held last evening at 229 Collins Street the question of unemployment was discussed. Miss Vida Goldstein presided.

The need for immediate organisation of the forces endeavouring to find work for the unemployed, and to give relief in cases of great distress was emphasised, and the following concrete proposals were agreed to:

1. That the Commonwealth and State Governments be asked to co-operate in meeting the problem of unemployment.

2. That a control board of men and women be appointed by the Governments to organise all those seeking to alleviate the conditions of the unemployed.

3. That a policy of decentralisation be entered upon.

5. That the work should be financed by a graduated tax, starting at 5% on incomes of and over three hundred pounds per annum.

6. That facilities be provided for training women to domestic science, farming etc.

Argus 23 February 1915

The Woman Voter 3 June 1915:
The procession created a sensation, as this was the first time in history women had made any sort of political demonstration in defence of their own rights.

Then the speakers, unemployed women, spoke of their situation: "Dear Sir, we are here because we want work, not charity. My father wouldn't let me learn a trade or go in for any profession, because, he said, the home is the women's place, but I lost my home because the landlord doubled the rent ...

For those of us who have no other source of income, two days’ work is not enough."

For Love or Money a pictorial history of women and work in Australia Penguin 1981 p.70


During the wharf labourers strike the Women's Political Association established a commune, supported by donations, to help the strikers' families. Kitchens, a restaurant, boot shops, barbers, grocers and baker shops were established by voluntary help. Boots were mended and hair cut free. Over 1,500 meals were supplied and 5,000 people were given groceries.

Woman Voter No 268 4/10/17 and 273 18/11/1

Day’s End - Lesbia Harford

Little girls -
You are gay,
Little factory girls
At the end of day.

There you stand
Huddled close
On the back of a tram,
Having taken your dose.

And you go
through the grey
And the gold of the streets
At the close of the day.

Blind as moles:
You are crude,
You are sweet – little girls -
And amazingly rude.

But so fine
To be gay,
Gentle people are dull
At the end of the day.


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