Profiles

Bid O'Sullivan MBE and the Queensland School-of-the Air

Courtesy: State Library of Queensland (166302)

1960

Bid O'Sullivan MBE and the Queensland School-of-the Air

On 25 January 1960, Bridget ('Bid') O'Sullivan – the first teacher of the newly established Queensland School-of-the-Air – delivered its first broadcast to 14 boys and girls from remote stations across the state using two-way radio communication. The broadcast was delivered from the Royal Flying Doctor Service residence in the North Queensland town of Cloncurry. The aim of the school was to help overcome the loneliness and shyness of outback children in addition to providing basic education to complement correspondence lessons. Through Bid's efforts, 74 children were enrolled in the school by the end of 1960, and this increased to 153 in 1963, only 30 of which Bid had actually met face-to-face. In 1963, Bid was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her "…outstanding services and devotion to the children of Queensland in the field of education".

Source: McKerrow, H 1985, Over to you: the first 25 years of the School-of-the-Air in North-West Queensland, Mt Isa School-of-the-Air P &C Association Publishers, Mt Isa.

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The 'pill' first became available in Australia

Copyright: Newspix / Drew Ryan

1961

The 'pill' first became available in Australia

Australia's introduction of the combined oral contraceptive pill in 1961 gave women additional control over their fertility and allowed for greater sexual freedom. Since its inception, more than 200 million women throughout the world have used the pill.

Source: Feldman, R 2002, 'A Pill a Day', ABC Science, viewed 5 December 2008, <http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/thepill/default.htm>.

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Indigenous Australians were given the right to vote in federal elections

"Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander peoples - Teaching Aboriginals to vote, 1962" - Image Courtesy of National Archives of Australia (A1200:L42366)

1962

Indigenous Australians were given the right to vote in federal elections

Prior to 1949, several states had given Indigenous people the right to vote, however exclusions still existed at a federal level. In 1949, amendments to Commonwealth legislation granted suffrage to those Indigenous people who had served in the defence forces or who already had state level voting rights. This right was finally extended to all Indigenous women and men in 1962 at the federal level and in 1965 at the state level in Queensland.

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Dr Margaret Mittelheuser AM

Courtesy: Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, University of Queensland

1964

Dr Margaret Mittelheuser AM

In 1964 Margaret Mittelheuser secured a place in Australia's financial history when she earned a partnership in the stockbroking firm, Ralph W King & Yuill, becoming Australia's first female stockbroker. Margaret's contribution to finance and the stockbroking industry has been recognised by the award of Membership of the Order of Australia (AM) and with Honorary Doctorates from the University of Queensland and Griffith University. A prestigious prize in her name is awarded every year to the top graduating MBA student at the University of Queensland. Her successful career continued over 50 years and raised many millions of dollars for government and private organisations and she advised many clients on their investments. She retired in 2005 but still likes to maintain a close eye on the market.

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Women allowed in Queensland public bars

Ro Bogner (L) and Merle Thornton chained to the bar at the Regatta Hotel. Copyright: The Courier-Mail

1965

Women allowed in Queensland public bars

One of Queensland's most renowned acts of civil disobedience occurred on 31 March 1965 when Brisbane women, Merle Thornton and Rosalie (Ro) Bogner, chained themselves to the front bar of Toowong's Regatta Hotel. At the time, public bars only allowed male patrons, relegating women to secluded Ladies Lounges. Publicans who served women faced fines between 10 and 20 pounds, however, that didn't stop male sympathisers from buying beers for Ro and Merle. Police were called to cut through the chains and attempted to send the women on their way voluntarily but, failing to do so, they eventually left the women in the bar. The events of that day led to a growing female presence in Queensland public bars, finally becoming legal in 1970. As a result of their actions at the Regatta Hotel, Merle and Ro became known as the 'bar-room suffragettes'.

Source: Grant, H 2005, Great Queensland Women, State of Queensland (Office for Women), Brisbane.

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Merle Thornton

Copyright: Michael Sullivan

1965

Merle Thornton (1930 - )

Merle Thornton has campaigned for women's rights for more than 40 years. In addition to gaining the right for Queensland women to enter public bars, Merle also established the Equal Opportunities for Women Association (EOW) in April 1965 - a precursor of the Women's Liberation Movement. EOW fought to abolish the ban on married women being employed as permanent officers in the Commonwealth Public Service, resulting in the amendment of the Public Service Act in November 1966. The amendment allowed married women to serve as public servants and provided them with maternity leave. This was the first maternity leave legislation passed in Australia with state changes soon to follow. Seven years later, in 1973, Merle introduced the teaching of Women's Studies into the University of Queensland's sociology department. She lectured at the University of Queensland for 20 years before turning to creative writing as a way to encourage lasting social change. As well as penning numerous academic articles, she has written television drama, a successfully produced play, a novel (After Moonlight, 2004), and has written and produced a number of documentaries.

Sources:

  • Grant, H 2005, Great Queensland Women, State of Queensland (Office for Women), Brisbane.
  • Heywood, A 2008, The Australian Women's Register, Thornton, Merle (1930 - ), viewed 19 January 2009, <http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0613b.htm>.
  • Thornton, M 2009, personal biography, 23 February 2009.

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Professor Joyce Ackroyd

Courtesy: National Archives of Australia (A1501:A5992/1)

1965

Professor Joyce Ackroyd (1918 - 1991)

Born in Newcastle, Joyce Ackroyd worked as a research fellow, senior lecturer, and associate professor of Japanese at the Australian National University between 1952 and 1965. In 1965, she became a professor of Japanese language and literature at the University of Queensland, holding this position for more than 17 years. Under her leadership, her department grew to become the largest of its kind in Australia and played a pivotal role in introducing Japanese language studies into the country's schools. Her significant contribution to the Japanese language was recognised in 1983, when she received the Japanese Order of the Precious Crown.

Thorpe, DW 1996, A sense of purpose: great Australian women of the 20th century, Reed Reference Australia, Australia.

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Queensland lifted the ban on married women as public servants

1966

Queensland lifted the ban on married women as public servants

The Queensland Public Service Acts, 1922 to 1924, effectively forced women to resign from permanent public service roles upon marriage. Though they were permitted to take up temporary roles, these positions were limited, offered reduced superannuation, and were the first to be targeted for redundancy. It was thought that married women had more important priorities with home and family. The marriage ban was finally lifted in Queensland in 1969.

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Dr Margaret Valadian AO, MBE

Courtesy: M Valadian, Private collection

1966

Dr Margaret Valadian AO, MBE (1936 - )

Dr Margaret Valadian has dedicated her life to improving the education and development of Aboriginal Communities. Margaret was the first recognised Indigenous graduate from the University of Queensland, achieving her Bachelor of Social Studies in 1966. She continued on to the University of Hawaii where she completed a Masters of Education and then to the State University of New York where she earned a Masters of Social Work. Margaret returned to the University of Hawaii, where she became the first woman (and first Australian) president of the university's East-West Centre Student Association. Her work has won her awards from the University of Queensland, Macquarie University and the inaugural BHP Award for Excellence in Community Services. She has been named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) and an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her service to the community, particularly in the field of aboriginal education and culture. Her long-standing commitment to providing education for social and economic development for Aboriginal communities over many years has placed her in high regard within Indigenous communities in Australia and overseas.

Pearce, S 2006, Who's Who of Australian Women: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Australian Women 2007, Crown Content, North Melbourne.

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Australians voted 'Yes' in a referendum to alter sections of the Constitution which discriminated against Indigenous Australians

'Yes' for Aborigines poster – Referendum, 27 May 1967. Copyright: FCAATSI

1967

Australians voted 'Yes' in a referendum to alter sections of the Constitution which discriminated against Indigenous Australians

In 1967, an overwhelming 90.77% of Australians voted 'yes' in a referendum to change two sections of the Australian constitution which discriminated against Indigenous people. It was the largest 'yes' vote recorded in any federal referendum and the subsequent alterations allowed for the inclusion of Indigenous Australians in the census. It also gave the Commonwealth the power to legislate for them (which had previously been undertaken by individual states). This meant that all Indigenous women and men now held the same citizenship rights as all other Australians.

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Dr Joan Innes Reid

Courtesy: Bill Lavarack, photographer

1967

Dr Joan Innes Reid (1915 - 2001)

Joan Reid spent her early life in country Victoria, raised by her mother and a large extended family. She graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1936 with a Bachelor of Arts before moving to Canada where she studied social work and completed her Masters thesis. Upon returning to Australia in 1953, Joan assumed the role of medical social worker at Townsville General Hospital. She was the only medical social worker practising north of Brisbane where she serviced a population of over 250,000. Joan worked with the Queensland Country Women's Association, helping to fill the needs of homeless women - particularly those who were pregnant and unmarried. She also made fortnightly trips to Cairns to visit thoracic patients, running art and craft lessons as a form of occupational therapy. When hospital authorities observed the success of her methods, an official occupational therapy unit was established. Joan was also a major player in the 1957 creation of the North Queensland Subnormal Children's Welfare Association (later known as Endeavour). Frustrated by not being able to meet community needs quickly, Joan decided to run for Council, becoming Townsville's first female councillor in 1967; a part-time position so she could continue her hospital work. In 1973, she became Deputy Mayor and a year later, was appointed Townsville Council's first Social Worker - her proudest achievement. The arts remained her greatest passion, helping to establish the Civic Theatre, an art gallery, and the Townsville Museum. In 1976, she devoted her attention to teaching a new generation of social workers, joining James Cook University where she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters for her contribution to her profession.

Grant, H 2005, Great Queensland Women, State of Queensland (Office for Women), Brisbane.

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Nellie Robinson

Courtesy: National Archives of Australia (M2127:5)

1967

Nellie Robinson

Nellie Robinson held a number of roles with the Women's Voluntary Auxiliary during World War II, from teacher to radio presenter to driver. In 1961, she was elected as Alderperson to the Toowoomba Council and, in 1967, became Queensland's first female mayor, serving the state for 14 years.

Toowoomba Regional Council, 2003, Nellie E. Robinson - Queensland's First Lady Mayor, viewed 24 November 2008, <http://www.toowoomba.qld.gov.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=416&Itemid=691>.

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Dr Jo Mackerras

Courtesy: Australian War Memorial (ART24395)

1967

Dr Jo Mackerras (1896 - 1971)

Born Mabel Josephine Bancroft, Jo developed an interest in science at a young age while assisting her father with his plant, animal and insect research projects on the family property at Deception Bay. After studying at Brisbane Girls Grammar School and the University of Queensland, Jo joined the Australian Army Medical Corps as a captain in 1942. With 25,000 servicemen suffering from malaria in the South-West Pacific Area, in 1943 a medical research unit was established in Cairns, where Josephine worked as an entomologist from mid-1943 before being promoted to Major in 1944. Her work with the unit played a critical role in reducing the incidence of infection in the armed forces and provided a secure scientific basis for studying the effects of drugs on mosquitoes. In 1947, Jo became a senior parasitologist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. In 1957, she was elected a member (and later fellow) of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia. She also presided over the Queensland Medical Women's Society and the Women Graduates' Association, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of science by the University of Queensland in 1967. Throughout her career, Jo's research has been recorded in more than 80 papers, advancing the fields of entomology, veterinary medicine and medical science. She also played an important role in encouraging young scientists in her profession.

Source: Williams, L 2006, Australian National University, Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition - Mackerras, Mabel Josephine (Jo) (1896 - 1971), viewed 6 January 2009, <http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A150734b.htm>.

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Eva Bacon

Copyright: The Courier-Mail

1967

Eva Bacon (1909 - 1994)

Eva Bacon, born Goldner, grew up in Austria. In her youth she was involved in Red Aid, helping victims of fascism including Spanish freedom fighters. In the late 1930s, Eva fled Austria and sought safety in Australia. Eva was passionate about working class women's rights, child welfare and peace. In 1950, the Union of Australian Women (UAW) was established, with Eva Bacon as a significant member. The establishment of this union meant that women, regardless of their social standing, marital or employment status, could feel united - providing an outlet for company and diversion from the home. By 1951, the UAW had eight branches in Brisbane with 560 members, and branches in Townsville and Cairns. The UAW campaigned against many things including the high cost of bread, poor-quality meats and faulty hosiery. (It was a workplace requirement that women wear stockings.) They marched on streets lobbying for free hospitals, an end to war in Vietnam, banning atomic testing and actively promoting reconciliation. Equal pay was also an important issue that UAW fought hard for. Eva remained passionate about children's rights and advocated work-based child care and after school care. In 1967, through the UAW, Eva argued to the Queensland Government that after school care was a legitimate need for working mothers. In 1971 the University of Queensland opened an on-campus kindergarten. Eva Bacon's name was also tantamount with International Women's Day (IWD) activities in Queensland. Eva remained secretary of the IWD committee between 1951 and 1974.

Source: Grant, H 2005, Great Queensland Women, State of Queensland (Office for Women), Brisbane.

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Patience Thoms

Courtesy: National Archives of Australia (1200, L47161 11408761)

1968

Patience Thoms

Patience Thoms was elected as the eighth president of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women in 1968. She was the first Australian to be elected to this position. The Federation works at giving women financial independence by advocating equal opportunity in the workplace.

Source: International Federation of Business and Professional Women, 2008, History: 1968 – 1971 Patience R. Thoms, viewed 5 December 2008, <http://www.bpw-international.org/index.php>.

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Did you know?

  • 1960 - The total population of females in Queensland was 735,838 (with a ratio of 104.2 males to 100 females)
  • 1961 - Oral contraceptives went on sale for the first time in Australia
  • 1961 - There were 69,726 females in Queensland who were aged 65 and over, about 9.4% of all Queensland females
  • 1962 - The life expectancy of females in Queensland was 74.1 years
  • 1965 - Queensland's first female uniformed police officers hit the beat
  • 1966 - Women comprised of 27.3% of the state workforce
  • 1967 - There were 13,634 marriages (with a ratio of 8 marriages to 1000 residents) and 1074 divorces (with a ratio of .63 divorces to 1000 residents) in Queensland
  • 1968 - There were 35,190 births in Queensland (with a ratio of 20.3 births to 1000 residents)
  • 1969 - The ban on married women as permanent employees in the Queensland State public sector was abolished

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Last updated 16 February 2011