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National Council of Women of Victoria (1902 - )

From
1902
Occupations
Voluntary organisation
Location
Level 1, 15 Collins St, Melbourne Vic. 3000

Summary

Officially founded in 1902, with Janet Lady Clarke as president, and continuing today, the National Council of Women of Victoria is an umbrella organisation for a large and diverse number of affiliated Victorian women's groups. It functions as a political lobby group, attempting to influence local, state and federal government. Like all National Councils of Women, it operates though a standing committee system whereby specific issues are brought before the Council and, if there is general agreement that a question should be taken up, a subcommittee is established to investigate the matter.
Until the 1940s at least, the Council was a major focal point for women's activism.

Its initial aims were:
1. To establish a bond of union between the various affiliated societies.
2. To advance the interests of women and children and of humanity in general.
3. To confer on questions relating to the welfare of the family, the State and the Commonwealth.'

While encompassing a diverse range of organisations, the Council emerged as a largely middle-class women's organisation especially in terms of its office bearers.

Although not always an overtly feminist organisation, the NCWV drew on the conviction that women had a special contribution to make to public life and the formulation of social policy. They were thus concerned with a wide array of social reform issues** as well as those more directly related to the legal and social status of women. It also drew on notions of gender unity and international sisterhood.

[Kate Gray, 'The Acceptable Face of Feminism: the National Council of Women, 1902-1918', MA thesis, University of Melbourne, 1988.]

Details

Women's organisations affiliated with the National Council of Women of Victoria have a wide range of goals and aims. Thirty five organisations were affiliated in 1902, and 139 by 1977 [Norris, p. 10-11]. These organisations include groups dedicated to philanthropic and reform causes, social and cultural societies as well as professional organisations. These included the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Australian Women's National League, the League of Women voters of Victoria, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Business and Professional Women's Club of Melbourne, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Union of Australian Women, the Royal Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch), the Right to Choose Coalition, the Victorian Association of Benevolent Societies, the Women's Electoral Lobby, the Family Planning Association and the Free Kindergarten Union of Victoria.

All National Councils of Women, and the International Council of Women, operate though a standing committee system. The process was for specific issues to be brought before the Council by individual delegates. Often the issues were of special interest to one or more affiliated organisations, who may have been working unsuccessfully on them for some time. Once it appeared from preliminary discussions that there was general agreement that a question should be taken up, a subcommittee was established to investigate the matter and draw up recommendations on which the Council could act. The first subcommittee formed in 1902 on the introduction of Police matrons in city and suburban lockups. Other early committees concerned themselves with the establishment of a colony for epileptics, with children playgrounds and with street lighting. Latter standing committees included: Arts and Letters; Child and Family; Education; Health; Home Economics; Internal Relations and Peace; Laws; Mass Media; Social Welfare; Women and Employment; Migration.

From at least 1919, they advocated equal pay for equal work - [Norris, p. 41] but it was not until 1954 that active steps were taken by the Council to promote wage equality for women [Norris, p. 46]

Related entries

Member

Secretary

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Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • National Council of Women of Victoria Minutes, 1904 - 1960, Mfm G 7541-7544; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • National Council of Women of Victoria, 1902 - ; National Council of Women of Victoria (1902 - ); State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details
  • Women Justices' Association of Victoria papers [manuscript], 1939 - 1974, MS 10773; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Dame Ada May Norris Papers, 1920 - 1980, MS90/109; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details
  • Edith Harrison Moore Papers, 1898 - 1960, 63/9; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Digital resources

Title
NCW Victoria presents a mobile unit to the Australian Comforts Fund, 1943
Type
Image
Date
1943
Creator
Herald Newspaper
Source
Australian War Memorial - http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/141967/

Details

Jane Carey

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124