- Religious organisation, Lobby group and Woman Suffrage Organisation
The Sydney Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded in 1882, at a meeting hosted by Mr Eli Johnson, a visiting American temperance lecturer. From 1884, other local Unions were started in suburbs of Sydney as well as in country areas of New South Wales. In 1890, a Colonial Union, to be known as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of New South Wales, was formed to embrace the whole colony. The local Union, however, was to remain as the important unit of power.
The Union is primarily dedicated to promoting total abstinence from alcohol and other harmful drugs and all members sign a pledge to this effect. However, under its broader agenda of 'home protection' and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, and in its belief that the dangers of alcohol could not be tackled in isolation, the group has pursued a very wide-ranging reform agenda mostly relating to the welfare of women and children. Importantly, influenced by its sister organisation in the United States, the Union became a major supporter of the campaign for women's suffrage in Australia as it was believed that power at the ballot box was the only way to achieve their goals. While at its most influential in the years up to WWI, the movement continues today.