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Page 9 B. RECOVERING FROM WAR, MORE WAR, MORE RECOVERING -
THE TIMES OF MURIEL HEAGNEY
57-63 on this page
57. SOCIAL INSECURITY – WAGES CUTS BETRAYAL
Also, Victoria's Minister for Sustenance declared in 1932 that:
"while domestic work was available at any wage, under any conditions, anywhere in the State, jobless women would be denied public assistance!"
And: In August Victorian employers cut wages by 15%. This was in addition to the 10% across-the-board cut for all workers two years previously.
Women in Australia, working class history ed Sandra Bloodworth and Tom O'Lincoln Interventions Melbourne 1998
58. 1930-1933 OVERWORK, ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION AND ILL-HEALTH AGAIN
At that time in the Women's Hospital in Melbourne Between 1930 and 1933 inclusive, the hospital treated 4424 women for abortion, of whom a massive 1069 were septic ... No-one who ever saw a woman die of Cl. welchii infection ever forgot the horror of it ... The Women's was the place where 'all the abortions went', where 'they all died from gangrene'. The smell of the septic ward was notorious: all public hospitals had stinking gangrene wards, but only the Women's was talked about.
The Queen Victoria Hospital treated septic abortions also, but its image was always was always more ladylike and respectable. The abortion victims were all assumed to be 'tarts' or unmarried girls who had been tragically seduced; but most were married women who could not afford either financially or personally to have another baby.
59. THE HUMAN RIGHT TO DECIDE FOR HERSELF BETRAYAL
Maternity can only be fairly and effectively protected when a woman is left in full possession of her rights as an adult human being. Neither marriage, nor pregnancy, nor childbirth, nor nursing a child are reasons for depriving her of the human right to decide for herself.
Muriel Heagney papers, State Library of Victoria
60. 1935 THEY WORKED FOR EQUAL PAY
Muriel Heagney said the reason she wrote Are Women Taking Men's Jobs, 1935, was to respond to ‘the current propaganda against women in industry, implying that women and girls were taking men's jobs and thereby becoming a contributory factor in general unemployment'.
61. 1937 THEY FORMED THE COUNCIL OF ACTION FOR EQUAL PAY
It activated the union movement and was instrumental in organising the first International Conference on Equal Pay (1938). Delegates to the Council of Action for Equal Pay (CAEP) sponsored Conference on Women and Children in Industry in Wartime, in August 1940, expressed strong disapproval of the emphasis that the Commonwealth Government was placing "on the need for voluntary unpaid work of women and girls in war services of an industrial character, whilst, at the same time, all our legislative and judicial authorities are completely ignoring the new special problems inherent in the socially necessary paid work of women and youths."
Elizabeth Windschuttle (ed) Women, Class and History Feminist Perspectives on Australia 1788-1978 Fontana/Collins 1980
The objective of the Council was "advocacy of the rate for the job irrespective of the sex of the workers, the elimination of sex differentials in legal industrial standards, the achievement of equal status and equality of opportunity for workers of either sex".
Edna Ryan and Anne Conlon, The Gentle Invaders Australian Women at Work 1788-1974 Nelson 1975 p.122
62. TEACHERS’ CONDITIONS BETRAYAL
(For women) promotions were blocked; positions were withheld, status was lowered - their social standing as teachers was nil. At times it appeared to be a deliberate process of elimination of the woman teacher.
Peacock's response was that far from supporting the principle of equal pay, he declared that "the need for the male mind and spirit and personality is so vital and urgent that a wise administration will seek to increase rather than decrease the present inequality of pay".
The Department responded "the tenure of service of woman teachers is uncertain"; that women resign on account of marriage (catch-22 here - they had to) that women do not have the same family responsibilities as men and so equal pay would give them an "unequal standard of comfort".
A Biography of Doris McRae 1893-1988 PHD University of Melbourne
Mrs Mary Leigh applied in 1940 for a job as a wartime pilot. "When I wrote to the Ministry to enquire how women pilots would be used in the war, I was told we were being trained only to attract more boys to flying! That made me mad."
Vashti's Voice July '73
63. RECOGNISING THE SERVICE RENDERED TO THE COMMUNITY … AND THAT MEN SHARE THE HOUSEWORK
With over two decades experience in trade union agitation for improved living conditions for all workers to supplement personal experience, I am convinced that family life will never reach the ideal standard we desire until the economic value of the services of the woman in the home is recognised by a special allowance from the State ...
At the first ACTU Conference held in Melbourne in 1921 I moved a resolution which still summarizes my view on the matter. The resolution was seconded by Mr J M Badderly, representative of the Miners' Federation, and was carried unanimously. It reads:
"That this Congress endorses the principle of the endowment of motherhood and childhood, thereby recognising the service rendered to the community by the mother in the care and nurture of the child, such payment to be a charge on the whole community, and be recognised as an individual right, and not associated in any way with the economic circumstances of the husband or father."
The system of child endowment instituted by the Commonwealth Government is along these lines and if extended until the inherent right of every child to access the best social opportunities available combined with a special allowance for the mother were recognised, the community would benefit immeasurably.
You will observe that I have made no provision for the childless married woman. I do so advisedly. My plan for special allowances for women is based not on their sex but on the service rendered to the community in the upbringing of a family... The household chores could be shared by both husband and wife.
Muriel Heagney Notes, State Library of Victoria
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