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Giles, Patricia Jessie (Pat) (1928 - )

The Honourable, BA, DUniv

16 November 1928
Minlaton, South Australia, Australia
Nurse, Political activist and Politician
Alternative Names
  • White, Pat (maiden name, 1928 - 1953)


Pat Giles commenced her working life as a nurse. After completing a Bachelor of Arts as a mature age student, she was an Organiser with the Hospital Employees Union of Western Australia from 1974 until 1981. In that year Giles was elected as an Australian Labor Party (ALP) Senator for Western Australia, and held the position for twelve years. During this time she was directly involved in the United Nations Decade for Women meetings, leading the government delegation to Nairobi in 1985.

Giles was a founding member and inaugural convenor of the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) WA in 1973 and was the first woman on the executive of the West Australian Trades and Labour Council. She was a member, later Chairperson, of the first Australian Council of Trade Unions Women's Committee. In 2004 Giles, who has continued to be a strong activist for women both within Australia and internationally, will complete her third and final term as President of the International Alliance of Women.



Obtained Certificate in General Nursing
Obtained Certificate in Midwifery
Obtained Certificate in Infant Welfare
Married Keith Giles (FFARCS, FFAARCS) (diss. 1976), they had four daughters
1971 - 1974
Vice-president of the WA Council of State School Organizations
1971 - 1981
Executive member of the Health Education Council of WA
1973 -
Inaugural convenor and member of WEL Perth
Graduated with a BA from the University of Western Australia
First woman to chair a committee on Discrimination in Employment & Occupation
1974 - 1981
Organiser of the Hospital Employees' Union WA
First woman elected to the executive of the WA Trades & Labour Council
1975 - 1980
Service industries representative on the WA Trades & Labour Council
1975 - 1981
Member of the Homeless Persons Advisory Committee in WA
1976 - 1979
Member of the Administrative Committee for the ALP (WA)
Member of the first ACTU Women's Committee
1978 - 1981
Member of the Review Committee for the WA Legal Aid Commission
First woman to argue an important general issue before the WA State Industrial Commission (Maternity Leave which was granted to women in private employment, January 1980)
1979 - 1981
Member of the Community Advisory Committee in Industrial Relations for the University of WA
1979 - 1981
ACTU representative member of the first tripartite committee on women's employment in Australia (sub-committee of the National Labour Consultative Committee on Women's Employment)
Western Australian delegate to the ALP National Conference
1981 - 1993
Sentator (ALP) for Western Australia
1983 - 1985
Junior Vice-President of the ALP
Temporary Chairman of Committees
1995 - 1996
Chaired the World Health Organisations's Global Commission on Women's Helath
7 May 2004
Speaker at the 19th Mary Owen Dinner

Sources used to compile this entry: Grahame, Emma, 'Giles, Pat', in Caine, Barbara (ed.), Australian feminism : a companion, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1998, p. 426; Lofthouse, Andrea (ed.), Who's Who of Australian Women, Methuen Australia, North Ryde (NSW), 1982, 504 pp.

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