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Women's Network (1984 - )

From
1984
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupations
Migrant Women's Organisations

Summary

From the time of her election to parliament, Franca Arean was hopeful of forming a "network" of women of all backgrounds who could meet informally, exchange ideas amd help and support each other. In January 1984, she senta letter to twenty to thirty women asking them to come to a meeting at Parliament House. They met in Feb 1984 for the first time, and the Women's Network - Australia was born. The first Women's Network guest was Frederika Steen, the head of a newly established Women's Desk at the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in Canberra.

Details

The women who gathered for the 1984 meeting odecided that there was a need for a women's network so that twomen from the older established groups, such as Anglo-Celtic, the Italian or Greek women, who had gone through the difficulties of the early years could advise and be supportive of the new groups of women, such as the Indo-Chinese, Laotian, Central American and Moslem women. They decided to meet for a few hours every two months, to have guest speakers and to be completely unstructured. Meeting in parliament house was regarded as symbolically important , as many of the women felt it was a seat of power from which they felt alienated and, at best, intimidated by.

'Meeting the ministers' was a regular event at the netwrok gatherings. Sometimes these meetings happened away from parliament house. There was a social evening in 1985, a Chinese dinner in honour of the then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs was arranged.. Nearly 200 women attended, but the minister didn't talk. Instead, five women were chosen to speak on a range of issues, including the problems encountered by Isolated Arabic speaking women, migrant women in the bureaucracy, Multicultural education, Child care in the Western Suburbs and Tenosynovitis. None of the women had ever spoken in fromt of a minister before.

By 1985, the number of members of the network had grown to 300.

Related entries

Related Organisations

Related Women

  • Steen, Frederika

    Frederika Steen addressed the first meeting of the Women's Network in 1984

Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Franca Arena - papers, ca.1960-2000, 1960 - 2000, 421464; Arena, Franca (1937 - ); Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana

  • Papers of the Migrant and Indigenous Women Action Group, 1973 - 2000, SRG 405/22; Women's Electoral Lobby (SA); State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana. Details

Digital resources

Title
Photograph of Dorothy Buckland-Fuller
Type
Image
Date
c. 1985
Creator
Steen, Frederika
Publisher
Allen and Unwin

Details

Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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