Timeline of Women's status since 1788

1788

192 female convicts transported to Australia for petty crime.

1840

Deserted Women’s and Children’s Act (NSW) provides maintenance in the case of desertion.

1842

Caroline Chisholm opened the female immigrants home providing accommodation to new female arrivals.

1872

University Constitutional Amendment Bill, Victorian Legislative Assembly permitted women to attend university.

1883

Married Women’s Property Act, South Australia: allowed married women to own and dispose of property.

1885

First woman graduate from Sydney University.

1888

International Council of Women founded

1889- 1906

‘The Dawn’ (feminist newspaper) edited by Louisa Lawson produced for and by women

1890

Constance Stone become the first registered female doctor in Australia. She studied overseas as she had been refused entry to Melbourne University.

1894

South Australian women get the vote.

1901

Women’s only impact on the content of the constitution is the inclusion of ‘Almighty God’ lobbied for by the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement.
‘My Brilliant Career’ written by Sarah Miles Franklin aged 22 years.

1902

White women gain the right to vote in Federal elections.
Edna Evans graduated in law from Sydney University. She was not allowed to practice until 1918.

1903

Vida Goldstein was one of four women to stand for Parliament for the first time.

1907

Harvester case: Justice Higgins awards women 54% of male basic wage.

1908

International Women’s Day founded in the USA.

1912

Women doctors allowed to practice in a Sydney hospital.

1916

Testator’s Family Maintenance and Guardianship Infants Act: widow’s were allowed automatic guardianship of their children.

1921

Edith Cowan becomes the first woman in Parliament (WA Lower House).

1927

Child Endowment Allowance payable to mothers is introduced

1932

Married Women (Lecturers and Teachers) Act (NSW) Women had to resign from permanent teaching positions upon marriage. 220 women immediately dismissed from Dept of Public Instruction.

1936

Florence Cardell-Oliver becomes the first female cabinet minister (WA).

1942

Women’s Employment Board formed to draft women into essential war time work at higher rates of pay.

1943

Enid Lyons becomes the first woman elected to Federal Lower House of Parliament.

>> Return to top of page

1947

Married Women (Lecturer’s and Teachers) Act (NSW) repealed.

1950

Female basic wage set at 75 % of male wage.

1958

Concept of equal pay between the sexes to be implemented by 1963.

1961

Australian women get access to the Pill.

1963

First Women’s Bureau established in Dept of Labour and National Service.

1965

Rona Mitchell becomes the first female Supreme Court judge.

1966

Bar on employment of married women as permanent employees in the Commonwealth Public Service lifted.
Annabel Rankin becomes first woman Federal minister.

1967

A referendum is passed allowing Aboriginal women (and men to be citizens) = voting rights and Census.

1969

Concept of equal pay for equal work to be implemented by 1972.

1970

Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch is published.

1971

Judge Levine rules that abortion in NSW is not unlawful if it was necessary to preserve the life of the woman or if her physical or mental health was threatened.

1972

First rape crisis centre established.

1972

Equal pay for work of equal value to be phased in by 1975.
Federal Childcare Act begins Federal involvement in funding of child care.

1973

Supporting Mother’s Benefit introduced.

1973

Maternity Leave provisions for women in the Australian Public Service.

>> Return to top of page

1974

National Wage Case sets an equal female minimum wage.
Leichhardt Women’s Health Centre is the first women’s health centre to open.
Elsie Women’s Refuge was the first refuge to open.

1975

International Women’s Year.
Family Law Act brings in ‘no fault’ divorce.

1976

Criminal Law Consolidation Act makes rape in marriage a criminal offence.

1979

United Nations adopts convention on ‘elimination of all forms of discrimination against women’.
Debra Wardley won the right to be employed as a pilot with Ansett in the Victorian Equal Opportunities Board.

1981

Pat O’ Shane first Aboriginal barrister, becomes first woman to head a government department.

1984

Sex Discrimination Act passed by Federal Parliament.

1985

Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission affirmed equal pay case of 1972 but rejected the notion of comparable worth.

1986

Joan Childs becomes first female speaker of the Federal House.
Janine Haines becomes first woman to lead an Australian political party.

1987

Justice Mary Gaudron first woman appointed to the High Court.

1988

First female pilots in the RAAF graduated.

1989

First female head of state - Rosemary Follett in ACT.

1990

Joan Kirner (Vic) and Carmen Lawrence (WA) become first women state premiers.
World Health Organisation estimates that 3 000 000 women are HIV positive and expected to die by the year 2000.

1991

First female president of the Law Institute in its 132 history.

1992

Justice Elizabeth Evatt is the first Australian to be elected to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

1996

ALP introduces a quota of 20% by the year 2000.

>> Return to top of page