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


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There never was any opposition from the men in Victoria, as a whole, to women having political equality with themselves.

The opposition came from only a few conservative men, from a section of the press, and, for a brief period, from a few sheltered women, who, immediately after the women were enfranchised for the Commonwealth in 1902 were induced by those same conservative gentlemen to form a political organisation to work in the interests of the Conservative party.

At first these women had only male speakers at their meetings for they still considered it "unwomanly" for women to speak in public. But gradually they got over that, and cheerfully took on the hitherto masculine prerogative of political oratory.

Vida Goldstein The Struggle for Woman Suffrage - summary of the Suffrage Movement in Victoria presented to the WCTU Melbourne 1947 in Isabel McCorkindale ed Pioneer Pathways Sixty Years of Citizenship 1887-1947 Morris and Walker 1948

Vida Goldstein's admirable poll of 51,497 votes in her 1903 campaign had shown the potentiality of the women's vote. Her success, however, aroused fear in the opposite political camp.

The result was the formation of the Australian Women’s National League (AWNL). Despite its claims, the AWNL was not formed by women but by men. On 10 March 1904, at a meeting called by the Victorian Employers' Federation at the Melbourne Town Hall, and attended by forty ladies, the AWNL was formally launched…

(It was) never feminist ... and hostile to the Women's Political Association ... (it) considered it immoral. The hostility was mutual.

Janice N Brownfoot Women's Organisations and the Woman Movement in Victoria 1890-1908 1968 SLV


Judith Smart:
A women's league had been mooted by the Victorian Employers' Federation in June 1903, and at the end of September over two hundred women gathered to discuss the suggestion in the Cliveden ballroom, on the invitation of Lady Clarke ...

The first object of the Australian Women’s National League (AWNL) was, not surprisingly, "Loyalty to the Throne".

Double Time Women in Victoria - 150 Years Marilyn Lake, Farley Kelly Penguin 1985 p.181

The men behind the formation of the AWNL envisaged the women's organisations as adjuncts to the male Australian National Leagues, which were concerned with electing right-wing Liberal men to Parliament, but the movement quickly took on a life of its own ...

By September 1905 (only eighteen months after its formation) it had eighty-three branches, providing social activities for its 10,000 members as well as working for the party ...

Speakers at its meetings, she went on, were men, "all of whom bitterly opposed the granting of the franchise to women, and are opposed to it still".

Audrey Oldfield Woman Suffrage in Australia A Gift or a Struggle? CUB 1992 p.155


She (Vida Goldstein) then set out a list of weekly expenses for a married man with five children - "Rent 10/-; bread 5/-; milk 4/-; butter 1/3d; meat 7/-“ etc.

She listed 24 items altogether totalling two pounds eighteen and sixpence and added:

"A man on this standard can't belong to a union, or take a daily paper, or have any amusement. He can't afford to get ill because, though he would have free hospital treatment, his family would starve. He can't save for old age, and must be prepared to take charity when he can no longer work. This is all due to the competitive system and the drive for profits."  

Vida's article appeared while Mr Justice Higgins was hearing the Harvester Case in the Arbitration Court, and it was the reading of this list which led him to have working men and women brought before him to give evidence as to the living expenses of the working community.

Life and Work, Leslie Henderson State Library of Victoria

In November 1907 Justice H.B. Higgins handed down a judgement that wages at the Sunshine Harvester works were not fair and reasonable. He had been required to do this under the Excise Tariff Act of 1906. This act offered Australian employers substantial tariff protection if they paid their employees "fair and reasonable" wages.

Federal Parliament did not define what it meant by fair and reasonable, and Higgins was left to decide this. The decision was widely supported in that it acknowledged that workers had a right to a living wage, but it was a disappointment in its treatment of women."

Such was the beginning of the famous Arbitration Court awards based on the normal needs of a working man and his family.

Vida Goldstein Life and Work, Leslie Henderson State Library of Victoria

The wages log prepared by the Clothing Trades' Congress has been published. The weekly minimum wage for women employed in the same branch as men is to be two-thirds of the women's wage.

Woman Voter March 1911 University of Melbourne


- Mass Meeting of Women Engaged in the Bookbinding Trade was held in the Trades Hall, Carlton on Monday 17th October 1910 at 8pm for the purpose of taking steps to form a union of women in connection with this class of employment. The object is "Preservation of a uniform scale of wages, weekly work, and to promote the interests of the trade in its moral, social and industrial aspects.”

Miss Mulcahy, Delaney, Townsend, Collins, McGrath, Triffle, Cohen, McLean. State Library of Victoria MS 11550

Widows of Miners and other workers in Victoria will find their positions improved by two Acts passed last year. The Wrongs Act 1910 enables the widow of a man killed through the negligence of another person to sue the negligent person for the pecuniary loss sustained by her husband's death. Till last year, the action could be brought only by the executor or administrator of the dead man. The Residence Area Act 1910 ... the holder's widow can apply to the Warden of the Court of Mines for an order permitting her to hold the residence area (of the miner's right).

Woman Voter March 6 1911

Dr Georgina Sweet, the first woman to win a science degree in our university, has proved that her knowledge is not all book learning. This year, against all comers, she carried off the David Syme Research Prize for brilliant research work ...

Woman Voter May 1 1911

The WPA has decided to invite delegates from all women's Associations, professions, and trades, to co-operate with it carrying on a special equal pay for equal work campaign.

Woman Voter September 10, 1912


Jennifer Feeney:
By November 1911 shoulderers - young women at Bryant and May Melbourne factory who put the cardboard inside box into the matchbox - struck for pay increases to 2s a crate (4,000 boxes) from 1s 8d. They said their wages were not adequate to self-support.

The management said they were well paid - they could earn 20s a week, and that shoulderers could be easily replaced if they were unable to reach that amount. It was argued that "they had homes and fathers, brothers and mothers to keep them, and plenty of their own sort could instantly be found to take their places"

The matchworkers’ union had been formed in 1910 and the average wage of women factory workers in Victoria in 1911 was half or less that of male workers ... The strike was of short duration, but by their industrial action the matchworkers’ demonstrated that solidarity of women workers could achieve success.

Double Time - Women in Victoria - 150 Years Marilyn Lake and Farley Kelly Penguin 1985 p.261, 266


The Law of the Land: The two Factories and Shops Acts of 1910 repeat the blunder of 1897, by permitting Wages Boards, in determining the wages of apprentices and improvers, to take into consideration the sex of the person concerned.

Woman Voter March 6 1911


In June 1912, twenty year old Miss Olive Gray took the witness stand in the Mildura Courthouse and gave evidence at the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court hearing for the Rural Workers Union.

She had packed dried fruit for the Mildura Co-op Fruit Company for five years. She came from a rural worker's family and her father who was a labourer had died. Olive supported not only herself but her mother and three younger siblings.

Facing cross-examination by the growers' solicitor and questions from Justice Higgins, president of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, when asked if she was “perfectly satisfied” with the wages of 4/6 a day, Olive hesitated.

After ascertaining that the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the factory where she worked was present, Higgins said:

"Tell me frankly whether you are satisfied with the 4/6 or not ... I shall see there is no injury to you from the answer".

Olive replied: "No, I am not satisfied ... Because it does not seem enough. It would be if I only had myself, but I have others to support".

Higgins dismissed her challenge to his concept of the "woman worker" as a secondary earner, which was central to his notion of male workers receiving a family wage:

"I cannot fix different wages for those who have others dependent on them and those who have not".

Ruth Ford, I am not satisfied DOI:10:2104/HA040007

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