1834 to 1899
- 19 November - first landing of white settlers and stock at Portland Bay (Victoria). It was an illegal venture transgressing both Aboriginal law and that of an ineffectual colonial government. The genocide began. The Gurnditch'mara, whose territory included Portland, had been in contact with whalers and sealers for at least thirty years. These visits, although damaging in terms of violence and introduced disease, had only been sporadic.
- 6 June - John Batman signed a cynical treaty with members of the Dutigalla - two hundred pounds worth of blankets and other goods and a promise of yearly rental worth the same amount. Claimed title over vast area of land.
- White settlement at Port Phillip (Melbourne) - by 1850 the settler population was 77,000. The Aborigines defended their land and the land had to be taken by force. The myth of peaceful annexation gave the excuse of tacit consent and thus no compensation. 'Racial theory and economic interest was the excuse for the uncompensated alienation of aboriginal land'. M.F. Christie, Aborigines in Colonial Victoria 1835-86, Sydney University Press, 1979, p.55)
- By now only areas in north-west Victoria and south-east Gippsland were not in white hands. Newspapers of the day attest the 'shoot them dead' attitudes and actions of the settlers of this period. The Protectorate system set up in 1839 was never supported by the general public. The colonists saw it as misplaced sentimentality and a waste of money. Aboriginal views were never canvassed.
- Independence for Victoria. Reserve system introduced. Schools were set up to educate Aboriginal children 'away from the influence of their parents'. Thus began the kidnapping of children from their natural parents. The huge influx to the goldfields of the whites and shortage of labour gave some employment to the Aborigines but their condition continued to deteriorate due to the practice of paying with rum.
- Matrimonial Causes Act. This legislation discriminated heavily against women in divorce. For the divorce to be granted women had to prove repeated adultery on the part of the husband together with cruelty and desertion (men only had to prove one adultery against the wife.) page 9
- Aboriginal population had dwindled from at least 11,500 in 1834 to fewer than 2000, (historian Noel Butlin claims that the population would have been between 50,000 to 100,000 before white contact with the aboriginals reduced the numbers - Our Original Aggression, 1983, largely through smallpox and venereal disease.
- Victorian Local Government Act did not specifically exclude propertied women from voting in municipal elections. Under the electoral laws this automatically placed them on the colonial electoral roll, thus enfranchising them. This was repealed two years later when it was discovered that such a loophole existed in the Act.
- Aboriginal Protection Act legislatively enshrined the notion that Aborigines were socially children, incapable of determining their own futures. Men of the Coranderk Aboriginal Station were demanding wage payment for their labour and official tenure of the station.
- The first public demand for full citizenship rights for women was reported to have been made by Harriet Dugdale in a letter to the Melbourne 'Argus'.
- Young Women's Christian Association started in Victoria (Geelong). A Christian women's association, its purpose was to provide opportunities for women to develop their full potential and concern for the community in responsible action, and to strive to achieve peace, justice and freedom for all people.
- The first Victorian Factory Act was passed, setting out minimum hours and conditions for women and juveniles. There were no provisions for policing these conditions.
- Women first admitted to lectures and examinations at the University of Melbourne.
- University Act gave women the right to be admitted to the University of Melbourne.
- Coranderrk Aborigines organized and took their complaints of bad health conditions; lack of real wages; the imposition of compulsory Christian education; punishment by withdrawal of rations through to the parliamentary system by deputations and petitions.
- Melbourne Tailoresses' Union tailoress's strike against 'sweating' (forcing women to work overtime by taking work home to complete). Land granted for a building for women unionists.
- Public Service Act (Victoria) laid down discriminatory regulations preventing women's promotion. Set up separate rolls for men and women teachers with women's salaries at four-fifths of the male rate.
- Victorian Royal Commission on conditions of employees in shops established with particular reference to barmaids.
- First woman graduate from an Australian University - Julia Bella Guerin, B.A. degree and M.A. degree in 1885, University of Melbourne.
- First woman to enroll as a medical student in Australia at Sydney University. Forced by the hostility of the male students to complete her degree in London. Her name was Dagmar Berne.
- Married Woman's Property Act. Victorian legislation gave married women the right to own and dispose of property in their own right.
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Society formed 22 June by Henrietta Dugdale and Annette Bear. The aims of the society were to obtain the same privileges for women as were possessed by male voters: i.e. equal justice; no taxation without representation; equal privileges in marriage and divorce; rights to property and the custody of children in divorce. It had 195 male and female members by 1885, 298 by 1886 but lost most of its force by the 1990's.
- Victorian Lady Teacher's Association formed in December. It aimed to look at the situation of women engaged in primary teaching. It was formed by teachers who were indignant at the pitifully low rate of pay they received compared to the rates of male teachers.
- Amendment to Victorian Factory Act. Despite the Royal Commission in 1883, there was little change to the legislation.
- After much trouble and Aboriginal protest against the coercion practiced by managers and the Protection Board, a Royal Commission recommended that all Aborigines of mixed descent (except for young children) under the age of 34 be moved off the Reserves. Thus began the policy of assimilation which removed children from mothers without consent.
- Aboriginal Protection Act amendment excluded all part Aborigines under the age of 34 years from Aboriginal Reserves. This meant that children were torn from their mothers, relatives and culture.
- Women's Christian Temperance Society formed 16 November. As well as opposing alcohol they were active in the struggle for the vote for women. The society was morally feminist and sought social reforms which included protecting the home and the making of one standard of morals for both sexes. Hostel opened for girls in 1892 in Spencer Street. A kindergarten in Richmond which included a school for mothers - the forerunner of Baby Health Centres - was opened in 1909.
- 1888 First woman's newspaper, 'The Dawn' started by Louisa Lawson (mother of Henry Lawson, poet and novelist) employing all-female labour (NSW). First issue 15 May 1888. It continued for 17 years.
- The 'Dawn Club' was a 'Women's Reform Social Club' (NSW formed by Louise Lawson).
- Australian Women's Suffrage Society formed. First annual report presented 1889.) Its aims were to educate women and men about women's right to vote.
- Order of the Daughters of the Court formed 24 October by the Rev. and Mrs W D Bevan. Its aim was to help women realize their influence and favoured women's emancipation. It covered intellectual, sporting and leisure interests. It did not support change based on arguments of sex rights.
- Public Service Act No. 1133 Section 43, Victoria, made married women ineligible for appointment to the Public Service. Retirement compulsory on marriage (after passing of Act). Married women were retrenched during depression of 1890's and lost permancy rights of employment in the Public Service.
- Matrimonial Causes Act added desertion, drunkedness, cruelty etc. and imprisonment as grounds for divorce but left the double standard of adultery (insanity included in 1919).
- Australian Women's Franchise Society. Active in the 1890's. Its aim was to gain Parliamentary franchise for women. Participants included proffessional workers connected with the labour movement. The Committee (executive) included men and women.
- First woman doctor to practice in Victoria. Dr Emma Constance Stone was refused admission to University of Melbourne so studied in USA, Canada and England.
- Victorian Vigilance Society formed by Mrs Annette Bear-Crawford, Vida Goldstein and Constance Stone. It aimed to raise the age of consent from 14 years to 16 years.
- Women first admitted to the Victorian Public Service as receptionists and clerks, but no for other grades.
- Womanhood Suffrage League founded in April by the Women's Christian Temperance Society. Its aim was to obtain parliamentary franchise for women on the same terms that it was given to men.
- Womanhood Suffrage League (NSW) formed by Rose Scott.
- First women medical graduates from University of Melbourne: Clara Stone and Margaret Whyte.
- Women's Suffrage Petition with 30,000 signatures presented to Victorian Parliament by Women's Christian Temperance Union, Victorian Temperance Alliance and the three Suffrage Societies.
- Age of consent - Crimes (Sexual Offences) Act sets age at 16 (conduct cannot be condoned on the grounds that it was consented to by the child.
- First woman science graduate from University of Melbourne: Miss L. J. Little.
- Labor Party included women's right to vote in their official platform.
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (Dr Maloney).
- Women won the vote in South Australia.
- National Society for Woman Suffrage. It aimed to gain women's enfranchisement and hoped to become a Central Committee but failed in this and later merged with the United Council for Woman Suffrage.
- First Female Factory Inspector in Victoria and Australia - Margaret G Cuthbertson.
- Victorian Plural Voting Abolition and Women's Suffrage Bill (Mr G Turner)
- Factory Workrooms and Shops Act granted Royal Assent on 29 July. It set minimum conditions and brought in registration of outworkers, appointed inspectors and set up the Special (wages) Board (Royal Assent 29 July 1896).
- Women's Social and Political Crusade - aims included measures to provide: a Deceased Husband's Brother Bill (to permit marriage in such circumstances); public lavatories for women; a septicemia ward at the Women's Hospital and children's playgrounds.
- Queen Victoria Hospital opened in Little Lonsdale Street. It was the first women's hospital in Australia run by women for women. Money had been raised in 1897 by an appeal to every woman in Victoria to donate one shilling and three thousand one hundred and sixty two pounds eleven shillings and ninepence was raised. This appeal was held in connection with the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee celebration. In 1946 the hospital moved to Lonsdale Street.
- United Council for Woman Suffrage
re-formed. Originally formed in 1894, it was ineffective by the
year 1899. Its aims were: to coordinate and amalgamate suffrage
societies and to lobby members of parliament and municipal
councilors abort women's suffrage; to educate the public about
women's suffrage; to educate the public about women's suffrage; to
educate the public about women's suffrage and to train women
speakers to address meetings.
Those involved included representatives from suffrage societies, Women's Christian Temperance Union, Trades Hall, Vigilance Society and Annette Bear-Crawford. The Council formed the Women's Progressive League.
- Women won the vote in Western Australia.
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (Sir George Turner).
- Women's Progressive League - its aims were:
to secure for women sivil and political rights equal to those of men;
the general emanciptation and advancement of women;
the right for women to enter architectural courses and proposed State Agricultural Colleges.
General reforms included prison and factory legislation, health, and the establishment of Children's Courts. They ran discussion courses on cookery, literature and health, and also conducted house to house canvassing, deputations, petitioning and public meetings and also established suffrage literature.
The League was a branch of the United Council for Woman Suffrage but independent of it.
By December there were 32 societies making up the League.
There were strong connections with the labour movement and the socialists.
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (Mr McLean).
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (Mr H R Williams).
- First Free Kindergarten in Melbourne established in Baptist Hall, Carlton.
- Victorian National Council of Women formed 22
The four original affiliates were:
The Australian Salon of Music, Literature and the Arts;
Jewish Women's Guild;
Young Women's Christian Association and the
Women's Christian Temperance Association.
Its aim was to form a link between various societies so that they had an arena for co-operation on specific objectives, these being children's courts and playgrounds and a successful compaign for the establishment of police matrons.
They reported on the conditions of women in prisons and participated in a number of deputations urging that woman suffrage be made a government measure.
It had an all-woman executive and 28 affiliated in 1902 then 32 affiliates in 1904.
- Federation of Australian States and Territories.
- Women's Federation formed 26 November.
Its aims were: to organize women politically around all questions of social reform and matters affecting women in the home and at work; public lavatories for women; Infant Life Protection Act amendments.
They also took on charity projects.
There were strong connections with the labour movement.
- Women won the vote in New South Wales.
- Victorian Constitution Reform Bill section 25 - ''Women may vote at Assembly Elections'.
- Commonwealth Franchise Act (now the Commonwealth Electoral Act) gave women the right to vote and stand for office in federal parliamentary elections.
- The first woman to receive a law degree in Australia (Sydney University) was Ada Emily Evans, but she was unable to practice until 1921 after the enactment of the 1918 Women's Legal Status Act of NSW which Ada Evans proposed and for which she lobbied strongly.
- First federal election in Australia. Vida Goldstein
became the first woman in the British Empire to stand for
parliamentary election when she contested the federal
This was the first federal election in which women were eligible to vote and become a candidate.
She received 50,000 votes in a statewide contest in which the highest vote was 110,000.
- Women won the vote in Tasmania
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (No 1) (Dr Maloney).
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (No 2) (Mr
Mackinnon). page 53 31 March, Dr Maloney moved that the
following words be added to the motion -
'Provided that the clauses relating to Women's Franchise eliminated by the Legislative Council be reinstated'.
- Victorian Local Government Act amended to permit married women to vote in municipal elections under a property franchise.
- Victorian Legal Profession Act enabled women to practice in law (known as the 'Flos Grieg Enabling Bill').
- Melbourne Women's Political Association formed in
Its aim was to educate and to organize women to use the vote in federal elections.
It ran mock elections and parliaments to educate women politically.
Its political work included petitions for federal marriage and divorce law reform, deputations and test questions to parliamentary candidates.
The association also worked for Vida Goldstein's campaign as an independent candidate.
Vida Goldstein was strongly feminist, advocating sexual loyalty and exclusive women's interest.
She reorganised the Melbourne Women's Political League into the Melbourne Women's Political Association.
- Women's Political Association (formely Melbourne Women's Political Association) formed around 1904. Its aims were: to pursue interests of home, children, sound economy in state and federal governments, and to improve social and industrial conditions. The WPA ran a vigorous campaign for state suffrage in Victoria.
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (Mr Lawson).
- Australian Women's National Club formed in
Its aim was to promote the social side of political life.
It was the first women's political club in Australia.
- Australian Women's National League formed in
It was formed by men, notably, the Victorian Employers' Federation.
In 1905 they formed an anti-socialist alliance with the Farmers' League.
In 1907 they held the first Pan-Australian Conference of Anti-Socialist Women's Organizations (25 October 1907).
In September 1905 there were 10,000 members and 83 branches.
Its aim was to elect men of character to politics.
It espoused patriotism and the sanctity of the home. It was anti socialist in character.
It supported suffrage and higher education but did not favour widespread emancipation.
- Victorian Adult Suffrage Bill (Legislative Assembly) (Mr Prendergast).
- The first woman was admitted to the Bar in Australia - Greta Flos Matilda Grieg. She was admitted in August under the Victorian Legal Profession Practices Act.
- Victorian Women's Suffrage Bill (Mr Watt)
- Victorian Adult Suffrage Bill (Mr Prendergast).
- Harvester Judgement - McKay versus Harvester
works decision handed down on 12 November.
A basic wage based on the concept of a man, wife and three children was set by Judge Higgins.
This decision was to influence applications for equal pay until the introduction of the total wage in 1967.
- Victorian Adult Suffrage Bill No 1 (Mr
All the above attempts met with failure, most being passed by the lower house and rejected by the upper house.
- Victorian Adult Suffrage Bill (No 2) (Sir Thomas
Bent) passed both Houses on 24 November.
Women won the vote.
- Victorian Adult Suffrage Act was proclaimed (after royal assent was given).
- Victorian women win the right to vote, but not the right to stand for parliamentary elections.