Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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BPW Melbourne (1925 - )

From
1925
Occupations
Professional Association, Lobby group and Women's Rights Organisation
Alternative Names
  • Business and Professional Women's Club of Melbourne

Summary

The Business and Professional Women's Club of Melbourne was founded in 1925 - the first such Club in Australia. Miss Nellie C Martyn, Managing Director of the Steel Company of Australia (later to become BHP Billiton) was elected Inaugural President. Membership was open to women holding a responsible position in professional, business, industrial or educational organisation, and to women giving distinguished service to the community. The initial purpose of the Club was to 'give business and professional women the opportunity to meet in a friendly way and discuss questions of general interest to the community. Its more specific aims were soon defined as:
a) to develop a wider acquaintance between members of the community and to facilitate the exchange of ideas
b) to secure the recognition of the value to the community of women's work and service
c) to obtain the active interest of women in the civic, social, political and moral welfare of the community.

It was explicitly founded to provide a space for (largely elite) women's networking, and to work for their professional interests.
Subsequently it devoted itself more specifically to issues relating to the status of women, particularly in employment.
The Club continues to work to elevate the status of women generally, remove discrimination and to present the views of business and professional women to government. It still also operates to provide a space for women's networking.

Details

In April 1925, fifty leading business and professional women held a
meeting in the Young Women's Christian Association in Russell Street Melbourne. Margaret Cuthebertson, (Welfare Officer at Myers) chaired the meeting, while Alice Henry addressed the group on the importance of women's organisations. The result was the establishment of the first Australian BPW Club on 15 July 1925. Nellie Martyn (managing director of the Steel Company of Australia (now BHP Billiton)) was elected as founding president.

The group established its first Club House in 1929. This served meals and formal lunches and dinners were held with lectures and discussions. Other social and fundraising events were also organised. When the International Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs was formed in 1930 the Melbourne Club immediately affiliated with it. The Melbourne Club was also instrumental in establishing the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs in 1947. By this stage membership of the Club was 225.

Over its history, the Club has been involved with the Good Neighbourhood Council, UNICEF, the Traveller's Aid Society and the United Nations Association of Australia Status of Women Committee.

Sources used to compile this entry: http://www.bpw.com.au/.

Related entries

Archival resources

Noel Butlin Archives Centre

  • Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women Records, 1947 - 2004, N253 & Z517; Noel Butlin Archives Centre. Details

Jane Carey

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

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The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124