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Barry, Mary Kathleen (1925 - )

6 March 1925
Forest Lodge, New South Wales, Australia
Political candidate, Public speaker and Activist
Alternative Names
  • Barry, Mollie (also known as)
  • Meehan, Mary (Mollie) (maiden name)


Mollie Barry's varied career as an activist, ALP member and mentor for young people exemplifies the commitment to social involvement so common among her generation. She was an ALP candidate for Coogee in 1971.


Mollie Barry married Michael Oliver Barry in 1947. They had four children. She worked as a bank officer and interviewer for the Australian Bureau of Statistics Workforce Survey, Sydney, in the 1960s, after the births of her four children. She gained a real estate qualification and was the only female real estate sales representative for LJ Hooker in Sydney's eastern suburbs, 1971-73. She enrolled in an Arts degree as a mature age student, but did not complete the course.

An active member of the ALP with a lifetime interest in politics, she joined the South Pacific Toastmistress Club and became an accomplished public speaker. Mrs Barry noted that women gained confidence and a stronger sense of themselves as their ability to speak in public improved. She adjudicated youth debates and was a member of the Youth of the Year committee.

On a tour of parliament she was appalled at the low level of language and debate on the floor of parliament, and decided to stand for the ALP, against the speaker Sir Kevin Ellis, when she was approached by branch members. Her preselection for Coogee was opposed by Labor's Head Office, but she won convincingly. She was described in the Sydney Morning Herald as a "vigorous candidate". She lost the election but received the biggest swing to Labor in the metropolitan area.

Mrs Barry was a member of Christian Women Concerned, a multidenominational group of women working for social justice, and Labor Women's Organising Committee.

Sources used to compile this entry: Sydney Morning Herald, 22 January, 12 February 1971; Interview with Mollie Barry, November 2004.

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