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


64-73 on this page


The anti-feminist Australian Women's National League (AWNL) had argued for a wage for wives paid by husbands - "Wages for Women".


In 1941, Muriel Heagney put to the ACTU a six point policy for women workers:

1. Right of women to earn a living in industry at a rate of pay based on the job itself rather than the sex of the worker

2. Equal access to occupational training

3. Removal of regulations restricting the entry of women into certain jobs

4. Right of women to economic independence…

Also in 1941:

- The Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress adopts Equal Pay Principle and the first conductresses were employed on Melbourne trams.
- Child Endowment was achieved.

- On 13 March a man was jailed for 6 months for having and distributing Communist papers containing matters advocating unlawful doctrines.

- 9 June - Many undernourished in State Schools - 17% in 80 metropolitan State Schools.

Yvonne Smith Taking Time a women's historical data kit Union of Australian Women  

- There are women in the community with all kinds of varying responsibilities – to husbands, children, parents, sisters and brothers – and women with none.

Among them are many who cannot meet their expenses or those those of their dependents without doing paid work – just as there are in peace time, and especially in “depression” time; but more than ever now when so many suffer a severe cut in income through male members of the family joining the forces.

Australian Women at War ed.Mollie Bayne: Research Group of the Left Book Club of Victoria 1943


On 13 December 1941, five days after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the new Labor Minister for War Organization of Industry told Cabinet that:

"It seems probable that necessary supplies of female labour can be obtained without offering men's wages, particularly if appeal is made to patriotic sentiment where women are required for the services and uniforms provided where possible.

It is probable also that a substantial supply of female labour could be secured for munitions and other industries without departing from the present principles regarding the payment of females."
Carmel Shute Balaclavas & Bayonets, Women Class and History ed Elizabeth Windshuttle Fontana Collins 1980 p.383

BETRAYAL... in 1942 the Women's Employment Board was set up to ensure that the entry of women into men's jobs did not undercut the eventual position of men in the post-war labour market.

Women at Work - Kaye Hargreaves Penguin 1982


(During WW2) Australia had a higher percentage of the population in uniform than all other countries except Germany, New Zealand and Yugoslavia ... Approximately 35% of men between 18 and 35 enlisted for military service.

On 27 July 1942, a national organisation, the Australian Women’s Land Army (AWLA) was established and reported to the Director-General of Manpower.

The aim of the AWLA was to replace the male farm workers who had either enlisted in the armed services or were working in other essential war work such as munitions.

The AWLA was not an enlisted service, but rather a voluntary group whose members were paid by the farmer, rather than the government or military forces. Membership of the AWLA was open to women who were British subjects and between the ages of 18 and 50 years. Women could serve for twelve months or the duration (of the war). Housed in hostels in farming areas, members were given formal farming instruction and initially supplied for all their own needs i.e. uniform, bedding etc. Members were not engaged in domestic work rather they undertook most types of work involved with primary industries.

It established precedents for women being employed permanently rather than seasonally on mixed farms, orchards and market gardens. It set women in positions previously always held by men, such as herd testing.

Australian Women's Land Army 1942-5 Thesis Amanda Bede Ms 12138

A community ... cannot afford to allow idle time and talents in men or women, cannot afford a submerged half of females, a subject race within its borders.

So it is that when we discuss the future of women in Australia we cannot separate it from the general question of how things are going to be done after the war. If we fall back into the unplanned scheme of things in which only 'profitable' businesses are undertaken and social services languish and slums flourish, women will fall back too.

If we take our destinies in hand and use the money and facilities and abilities and social controls initiated in war in the causes of peace women must play a full and understanding part - a citizen's part.

Australian Women at War ed.Mollie Bayne: Research Group of the Left Book Club of Victoria 1943


The equal pay question challenged the entire rationale and structure of wage fixing through the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Female rates were awarded at 50;% to 53% of men's on the basis that women could somehow live more cheaply and had fewer dependents. Child endowment was viewed as a form of compensation.

Rather than attack this established procedure, the Federal Government established the Women's Employment bureau (WEB) in May 1942 ...

The WEB awarded wages for women taking over male occupations at a level that was not less than 60% and not higher than 100% of the male rate ... women actively agitated against WEB awards.

In the Small Arms Ammunitions factory in Footscray, a pre-war employer of women, the pay rate was considerably lower than in other munitions factories because the work was seen as female.

In protest, several thousand munitions workers, both male and female, called a stop work meeting ... and demanded that females in small arms munitions also receive the 90% rate.

More than 2,000 women from government factories and annexes went on strike, but despite discussion in Federal Cabinet, the Arbitration Court ruling against higher wages for traditional pre-war women's work stood firm.

Later, 150 women from Simmonds Accessories, government contractors for aeroplane engine parts at South Melbourne, went on strike from May to August 1943 before receiving the 90% award.
Kate Darian-Smith On the Homefront Melbourne in Wartime 1939 - 1945 Oxford University Press 1990

Ruth Crow:
"To live independent lives women needed independent incomes. But how could they earn them when they were expected to be responsible for raising children?

If child care became not just an individual woman's responsibility but a community responsibility, then women would be on the road to equality...

I was inspired by the republican women in the Spanish Civil War. They organised child care services so that they could support the elected government that offered them the opportunity to participate in public life."

In 1943 Ruth Crow organised in Brunswick Australia's first Federally funded child care centre for women working in war production...

"Child care met women's needs, parent's needs, children's needs and society's needs."

A proposal was made from Sydney that an all-Australian conference should be called to deal with the position of women in war work, and to inquire into the effect of the war in general upon women, both in and out of the service.

The Women's International League (for Peace and Freedom) was asked to take part in this and some members attended one or two of the earlier meetings.

But it was found that the Council of Women in War Work had set itself the task of securing 80,000 more women for military service within six months, and of facilitating the entry of married women into work connected with the war.

This was, of course, completely contrary to the principles of the Women's International League, who withdrew from the movement.

Eleanor Moore The Quest for Peace As I Have Known It In Australia pp.143-4 Appendix 2


As early as 1941 Muriel Heagney, in an unpublished paper, asked: Women's Place in Post-War Reconstruction - Restoration of the status quo or a more equitable social system?

The right to work is not the prerogative of men alone. One third of the workers in industry, commerce and services of all kinds are women... unless all sex differentials are eliminated from the recruitment, training and pay in wartime industry, new problems of post war reconstruction will be inescapable and devastating...

Glance around and see what are the results of the present social system with its sex-discrimination and underprivileged masses.

Hospitals filled with cases of preventable diseases, orphanages crowded with lovely children for whom no home life is available, child delinquency rampant, prostitution a menace in all cities, prisons full, and a large section of the community harassed and worried by financial troubles due to inadequate and intermittent income, and general social insecurity.

Muriel Heagney papers State Library of Victoria

So it is that when we discuss the future of women in Australia we cannot separate it from the general question of how things are going to be done after the war. If we fall back into the unplanned scheme of things in which only “profitable” businesses are undertaken and social services languish and slums flourish, women will fall back too.

If we take our destinies in hand and use the money and facilities and abilities and social controls initiated in war in the causes of peace women must play a full and understanding part – a citizen’s part…

The claim has several times been repeated by some union representatives and by employers’ representatives that women are only in these new and more skilled forms of work for the duration of the war. There have also been the various efforts to translate this desire into some form of compulsion.

Against this, lovers of justice and all who are truly interested in a fair opportunity for talent should be vigilantly on guard…

Opposition to equality in choice of work chiefly comes from those who agitate themselves about the birthrate and Australia’s “great empty spaces”…

Our hope is that Australian women will not be the neutral background of the design, but bold and imaginative designers, equal partners, courageous and happy in work, leisure and home.

Australian Women at War ed. Mollie Bayne: Research Group of the Left Book Club of Victoria 1943

The Australian Women’s Charter or “The Australian Women’s Conference for Victory in War”.

During the 1940's, in all large cities throughout Australia women gathered together to write what became known as the Women's Charter.

Ninety (or 91) organisations were represented at the Conference, including women's organisations which work for the improvement of the status and opportunity of women, philanthropic and patriotic bodies, church societies, trade unions and political parties.

See Appendix 3


Wage Reductions for Women:  "This meeting of Melbourne men and women gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day March 10th 1953 endorses the principle of equal occupational rates for men and women and registers its emphatic protest against proposed reductions in present rates of pay for women which:

(a) would lower their living standards and reduce their purchasing power, and

(b) would promote a pool of cheap labour and constitute a threat to men's employment ...

It calls upon all organisations to protect women's rates of pay by urging the Federal Govt. and all State Govt's to intervene in the case at present before the Arbitration Court in order to oppose the reduction in women's wages sought by employers."
Action for Adequate Child Care

Bon Hull papers, Melbourne University


There were equal pay rallies in 1955, and 1957, an equal pay petition that attracted 40,000 signatures in 1956, and the Roy Morgan Gallop Poll of June 6 1956 "stated that public opinion was in favour of equal pay.
Zelda D'Aprano www.womenworkingtogether.com.au


Yet (Premier?) Bolte's response was clear. He said the State Government would not legislate to give women public servants the same salary as men.

The Herald reported him as saying that equal pay for the sexes would have a tremendous effect on Victoria's economy:  

"Other Ministers said equal pay now would force up the cost of living to a dangerous level...”

Zelda D'Aprano Kath Williams The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay p.104


How long does Mr Bolte think his or any government is going to buck the demands of over three quarters of a million women wage and salary earners, backed by the trade union movement, and becoming more aware every day of the rank injustice of paying them less for their labour than men?

She (Kath Williams) wrote of the difference in salaries of women and men in the postal service, female and male clerical assistants in the public service and female and male doctors in hospitals, and suggested women should march on Parliament as they had in England.

Zelda D'Aprano Kath Williams The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay

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