“We Want You” says this well-worn T-shirt. These T-shirts were made for the 2000 National WEL Conference. They included the address of WEL–Australia’s website to encourage young people to join WEL. (T-shirt courtesy Merrindahl Andrew)
WEL banner on the National Day of Action that called for the exemption of sanitary products and lactation aids from the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Canberra, 25 February 2000. (Courtesy Erica Lewis)
Erica Lewis, WEL acting National Co-ordinator, speaking on the National Day of Action against the GST on sanitary products. Her T-shirt reads ‘I bleed and I vote.’ Canberra, 25 February 2000. (Courtesy Erica Lewis)
While demonstrations to exempt sanitary products from the GST were often colourful and original, such as this demonstrator dressed as a tampon, they were ultimately unsuccessful. Canberra, 25 February 2000. (Courtesy Erica Lewis)
T-shirt from the National Day of Action. With its red glitter it was made to create an impact on the day, not made to last as was the case with other WEL T-shirts.
WEL–ACT organized a breakfast to meet the women candidates for the 2001 elections for the ACT Legislative Assembly. The candidates signed this T-shirt. Four of these candidates were successful. Kerrie Tucker (Greens) was re-elected. Karin MacDonald (Labor), Roslyn Dundas (Democrats) and Katy Gallagher (Labor) were elected for the first time. Roslyn, an active WEL member, was at the time of her election the youngest woman ever elected to an Australian Parliament. Katy went on to become Chief Minister of the ACT, in 2015 she was appointed to the Senate and was elected in 2016. Canberra, 16 October 2001. (Photo Gail Radford)
WEL–NSW members supporting the campaign for paid maternity leave. L to R, Wendy Jowsie, Melinda Riches, Gina Andrews, Cate Turner, Sandy Killick, Anne Barber, on International Women’s Day 2002. (WEL–NSW Office)
Gail Radford and Liz Dawson at the WEL–ACT 30th Anniversary Dinner, Wall of Shame Dinner. Canberra Institute of Technology Restaurant, 11 April 2002. (WEL 2006 website)
Photo of ‘The Greg’. In 1999 WEL–ACT launched ‘The Gregs’, named after Legislative Assembly Speaker Greg Cornwell. They exposed sexist statements made by public figures. (Photo WEL 2006 website)
WEL–ACT founded a coalition of pro-choice groups, Options for Women. This successfully lobbied for the passage of legislation in 2002 that made the ACT the first jurisdiction in Australia to remove all references to abortion from its criminal code.
Eva Cox (Chair of WEL–Australia’s National Co-ordinating Committee) speaking at the launch of WEL’s 2004 federal election campaign. Parliament House Canberra, September 2004. (Photo Gail Radford)
L to R, WEL–ACT members Val Thomson, Christina Ryan and Margaret Ryan. Julie McCarron-Benson (WEL–ACT) made this banner. Parliament House Canberra, September 2004. (Photo Gail Radford)
L to R, Merrindahl Andrew, Erica Lewis, Gwen Gray, Diane Coward and Eva Cox at the launch of WEL’s 2004 federal election campaign. Parliament House Canberra, September 2004. (Photo Gail Radford)
L to R, Erica Fisher, back of Erica Lewis and Diane Coward. “No Respect No Vote” referred to the cancellation of a federal government domestic violence campaign called “No Respect No Relationship”. Parliament House, September 2004. (Photo Gail Radford)
Top: Mary Owen Dinner badge. The first Mary Owen Dinner was held in 1986 to celebrate Mary’s retirement and then annually until 2005. Lower left: International Women’s Year badge (1975). Lower right: WEL–NSW badge (early 2000s).
L-R, Kerry Lovering, Gail Radford and Fay Marles at the last Mary Owen Dinner. These dinners were held in packed town halls with the women attending wearing the feminist colours of purple, white and green. Melbourne, 29 April 2005. (Courtesy Gail Radford)
Still marching! Jenny Forster and Rhianna Keen carrying the WEL banner on International Women’s Day, Sydney 2006. (Photo Gail Radford)
Anne Barber (WEL–NSW) at ‘The Ednas’. The Edna Ryan Awards were first held in 1998, the year following Edna’s death. They were created by a group of friends and WEL–NSW to honour Edna’s lifetime involvement in campaigning for equal pay for women. Sydney, 11 May 2007. (Photo Gail Radford.)
Elizabeth Evatt selling wine at ‘The Ednas’. The annual Edna Ryan Awards are for women who have made a ‘feminist difference’. Sydney, 11 May 2007. (Photo Gail Radford.) Since 2012 the Awards have been supported and hosted by the Australian Services Union.
WEL–Victoria celebrated its 40th anniversary with a birthday party. L to R, Mary Owen, Barbara Cameron, Diane Alley, Arlie McQueen, Erin Lovering. Melbourne, 27 February 2012. (Courtesy Kerry Lovering)
Cutting the birthday cake are Iola Mathews, the longest serving member present, and Mary Owen, the oldest member present. Melbourne, 27 February 2012. (WEL–Victoria website)
Early WEL members at the party. L to R, Eve Mahlab, Mary Owen and Ann Morrow. Melbourne, 27 February 2012. (WEL–Victoria website)
L to R, Diane Alley, Arlie McQueen, Kerry Lovering (Convenor WEL–Victoria), Mary Owen. Melbourne, 27 February 2012. On International Womens Day, 8th March 2012, Federation Square in Melbourne showed a message wishing WEL a happy 40th birthday. (Courtesy Kerry Lovering)
WEL–Tasmania celebrated its 40th anniversary on 9 August 2012 in Parliament House in Hobart. L to R, Ann O’Byrne, Margaret Sing (Thurstans), Sophie Wilson (granddaughter of the late Elizabeth Dean WEL-Tas member), Helen L’Orange (WEL–NSW and Chair WEL–Australia). Julie Collins (Federal Minister for Women) and Cassy O’Connor (State Minister for Women). (Courtesy Glynis Flower)
This T-shirt was part of a display of memorabilia at the Tasmanian celebrations. The slogan “A woman’s place is in the House” was used by WEL members supporting woman standing for election, in Tasmania to the House of Assembly, and in Federal elections.
Many of the founding members of WEL in Tasmania were at the celebration. L to R, Margaret Sing (Thurstans) and Vicki Rutter. Hobart, 9 August 2012. (Courtesy Glynis Flower)
L to R, Austra Maddox, Kathryn Barnsley and Nancy Lee. Hobart, 9 August 2012. (Courtesy Glynis Flower)
Helen Prendergast was an early member of Women’s Liberation and WEL in Tasmania. She came to Canberra to work in the International Women’s Year Secretariat and stayed on to make a career in Equal Employment Opportunity and women’s affairs in the Australia Public Service. Hobart, 9 August 2012. (Courtesy Glynis Flower.)
Kim Boyer was a founding member of WEL–Tasmania and the first Women’s Adviser in the State. Hobart, 9 August 2012. (Courtesy Glynis Flower)
In 2012 WEL–NSW celebrated its 40th anniversary in the Strangers’ Dining Room in Parliament House Sydney on 17 October 2012. They also published a special edition of their newsletter ‘WEL-Informed’ listing women involved in the first year of WEL–NSW. (Courtesy Jarrah Backhouse)
“This is what a feminist looks like. Sarah Dingle in conversation with three generations of WEL members.” L to R, Wendy McCarthy, Melanie Fernandez and Jane Caro.” Sydney, 17 October 2012. (WEL–NSW website, courtesy Jarrah Backhouse)
“Feminism is alive and WEL.” WEL–NSW members L to R, Norma Ingram, Suzanne Marks, Wendy McCarthy, Jozefa Sobski, Melissa Ward, Corina Backhouse. Sydney, 17 October 2012. (WEL–NSW website, courtesy Jarrah Backhouse.)
WEL–ACT celebrated its 40th anniversary with a dinner at The Brassey of Canberra on 23 November 2012. This is a photo of those at the dinner who were WEL members in 1972/74. Standing L to R, John Woodrow, Robyn Henderson (Walmsley), Barbara O’Dwyer, Jean Norman, Louise Lake, Jan Morgan, Patti Kendall, Dorothy Broom (Darroch), Elizabeth Reid, Shirley Kral, Elizabeth Kentwell, Liz Dennis (Goldring), Margaret Bearlin, sitting L to R, Carmel Niland, Jayne Ross (Smith), Gail Freeman (Chandler), Gay Watt, Gail Radford (Wilenski), Susan Ryan. (Photo Roslyn Dundas)
L to R, Hazel Moir, Marian Sawer and Margaret Bearlin. Canberra, 23 November 2012. (Photo Elizabeth Kentwell)
L. to R, Val Thomson, Julie McCarron-Benson and Tui Davidson. Canberra, 23 November 2012. (Photo Elizabeth Kentwell)
Ann Smith and Gabrielle Watts. Ann is wearing a T-shirt made by WEL–Australia for the 1996 National WEL Conference. Canberra, 23 November 2012. (Photo Elizabeth Kentwell)
WEL Darwin reunion. L to R, Anne McCusker; Lucille Kidney; Judith Rivillard; Lenore Coltheart; Pam O’Neil; Gabrielle Kirby. Canberra, July 2013. (Courtesy Pam O’Neil)
WEL Darwin reunion. L to R, Anne McCusker; Lucille Kidney; Leith Cameron; Lenore Coltheart; Pam O’Neil; Gabrielle Kirby. Canberra, July 2013. (Courtesy Pam O’Neil)
International Women’s Day march, Sydney, Saturday 8 March 2014. Holding the WEL banner are (L to R) Lorraine Slade, Josefa Green, Laura Maclean, Ashleigh Lustica and Melanie Fernandez. (Photo Peter Boyle, Green Left Weekly)
IWD march, Sydney, 8 March 2014. Anne Barber (WEL–NSW) in the 2014 IWD march. The march had two central demands: “Equal Pay” and “Stop Zoe’s Law” (the introduction of a foetal personhood law in the NSW Parliament). (Photo Peter Boyle, Green Left Weekly)
Front row L to R, Jozefa Sobski, Convenor WEL–NSW Executive, Anne Summers, WEL member and journalist, Helen L’Orange, member WEL–NSW Executive. The women on the right were carrying signs protesting about the results of changed funding arrangements for refuges. Their signs read, ‘NSW Govt 2014 cut refuges run by women for women from 100 to 20. Shame Mike Baird. Shame Pru Goward.’ International Women’s Day march and rally, Hyde Park, Sydney, 14 March 2015. (Photo Anne Barber.)
WEL calculated that it would cost two cents a day per Australian for the Commonwealth to fund its share of the ‘Women’s and Children’s Safety Program’, a program prepared by WEL to ensure continuation and enhancement of women’s refuges and similar services. WEL asked parties and candidates for the 2016 Federal election to commit to funding its program. WEL also came up with the clever #my2centsworth campaign, where individuals ‘pledged’ on-line that they wanted the government to spend 2 cents a day of their money on the program. (Design of header: Libby Blainey)
A voter education session held at a Table Talk. Liverpool, NSW. (Photo Sandy Killick) WEL conducted Table Talks in marginal electorates to hear from women about issues that mattered to them in the 2016 Federal election and to discuss how to raise these issues with local candidates. Voter education sessions were held at these talks to help women make their vote count in the election.
WEL Volunteers, Sahra Elmi and Lisa Townshend, handout WEL’s Federal election scorecards outside a polling booth on Election Day. The scorecards set out WEL’s assessment of the responses by the Coalition, Labor, the Greens and the Xenophon Team to WEL’s questions about funding refuges. Parramatta, NSW, 2 July 2016
International Women’s Day 2015 protesting about the results of changed funding arrangements for women’s refuges. To celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2017 WEL produced a film about its history with an accompanying pamphlet. Both are called Making Women Count after the WEL history book published in 2008. The film can be viewed on the WEL website.
1993 – WEL–NSW stall on International Women's Day, Sydney; 2004 – WEL–ACT members with Eva Cox, Chair WEL–Australia, at the launch of WEL’s 2004 federal election campaign. Parliament House, Canberra, September 2004.
1974 – WEL–Darwin members modelling T-shirts; 2017 – Helen L’Orange (Chair, WEL–Australia) with WEL with WEL member Susan Price and her daughter Nicola Steels showing off their “pussy hats” at the Women’s March in Sydney on 21 January 2017. Originating in the USA, the Women’s March was a reaction to the election of President Donald Trump.
1975 – WEL members marching with their children, Sydney, International Women’s Day 1975; 2017 – L to R Sinead O’Connell and Cinzia Myatt at the Women’s March, Hyde Park, Sydney. On 21 January 2017 women from many countries marched in solidarity with those who marched on Washington DC.
In 2017 WEL launched its “Women Count Fund” to help it achieve the following aims: “Gain our reproductive rights”, “End violence against women”, “Empower women financially” and “Raise women’s voices”. For further details see the WEL website
Julie McCarron-Benson and Jayne Ross who organized a dinner to celebrate 45 years of WEL-ACT. There were lots of stories about the old days and Dorothy Broom spoke on “A Personal Sociology of Feminism, then and now”. The Asian Café, Canberra City, 17 October 2017.
Options for future action were discussed at the WEL–ACT dinner. This inspired some to get started right away by carrying the WEL banner at the "Say Yes for Marriage Equality Rally". L to R Kay Johnson, Margaret Ryan and Trish Saunders, marching down Bunda Street, Canberra City, 22 October 2017.
L to R Gail Radford, Kay Johnson and Margaret Ryan in Civic Square after the march. In reply to the question on the postal survey “Should the law be changed allow same-sex couples to marry?” seventy-four percent of respondents in the ACT replied “yes”.
L to R Blair Williams, Margaret Ryan and Patricia Saunders at the Reclaim the Night rally, Garema Place, Canberra City, 27 October 2017. Reclaim the Night is held every year in Canberra to raise awareness of sexual violence and the right to feel safe in public spaces.
2018 Pam Denoon Lecture. L to R Philida Sturgiss-Hoy and Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, who spoke on “Time’s up on sexual harassment”. The lectures are held in memory of Pamela Denoon, who was the WEL National Co-ordinator in 1982-84. Commencing in 1989, the lectures have been held regularly at the ANU in IWD week. Philida Sturgiss-Hoy was responsible for the organisation of many of these.