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Edes, Nydia Ivy (1901 - 1992)

4 October, 1901
Kadina, South Australia, Australia
26 June, 1992
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Councillor and Feminist
Alternative Names
  • Thomson, Nydia (maiden name)


Nydia Edes was the first female Alderman on the Broken Hill City Council and a recipient of the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal who worked tirelessly throughout her life for the improvement of women's conditions.


Nydia, the youngest of 8 children, was born in the mining town of Kadina in South Australia in 1901. Her father, Walter George Thomson, was a mining engineer. After his death in 1907, Nydia's mother Mary Louisa was left to raise her large family on her own.

At the age of 16, Nydia became secretary of the Moonta ALP Ladies' Committee, signalling the beginning of her long connection to the Australian Labor Party (ALP). She was also the secretary of the campaign committee for her cousin John Pedler, who became the local member of the South Australian State parliament. As mining in the Copper Triangle district in South Australia began to slow in the 1920s, Nydia's older siblings married and sought work in other towns. With her mother and older sister Sarah, Nydia moved to Broken Hill in 1926, joining other family members who had moved there looking for work.

Nydia was employed at Goodhart's department store and joined the Shop Assistants Union and the local branch of the Labor Party. She eventually became Mr Goodhart's assistant and was one of the principal buyers for the store. In 1931 she married Cecil Edes, a timberman who worked for the Zinc Corporation, and in 1933 gave birth to their daughter Margot.

The challenge of bringing up a child and maintaining a household did not prevent Nydia's continued involvement in politics. In May 1939, she helped form the Women's Auxiliary of the ALP in Broken Hill and remained a member for fifty years, serving intermittently as president, secretary and treasurer. Throughout her life, Nydia campaigned for women's rights, specifically equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity and legal equality. She was a regular contributor of letters and articles to the local press on the subject of issues concerning women. She strongly believed that women could and should contribute to local government, and wrote to the local paper that "it is only a simple matter of commonsense to have a woman actively participating in civic affairs". Accordingly, in 1962, Nydia ran for the council election as an ALP candidate and became the first female Alderman on the Broken Hill City Council. In 1968, following her disagreement with a caucus decision, Nydia tended her resignation from the Labor party and ran successfully as a Labor Independent in the next election. She held her office as Alderman until 1974.

In addition to her political activity, Nydia was a tireless volunteer for numerous and diverse community organisations. In the depression years, Nydia worked for local charities providing food, clothing and healthcare to struggling families, and during World War Two she served for six years with the Broken Hill and District Hospital Red Cross Voluntary Service Division. In 1935, Nydia was made a Justice of the Peace. She was a founder of the first rural branch of the Women Justices' Association in Broken Hill and became its first president. Nydia was a member of the Housing Advisory Commission from 1950 until 1970 and was secretary of the Far West Children's Health Scheme. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Broken Hill and District Hospital for 30 years, and was awarded Life membership in 1971. In recognition of her services to the community, she was awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977.

In spite of her time consuming political and voluntary work, Nydia never let her commitments encroach upon family life. A traditional Christmas dinner was the only sacrifice that her daughter Margot White recalls, as Nydia's position on the Hospital Board involved visiting every patient in the hospital on Christmas morning.

Nydia died in Broken Hill on June 26, 1992.

This entry was prepared and written by Georgia Moodie.

Sources used to compile this entry: Camilleri, Jenny, Some Outstanding Women of Broken Hill and District, Jenny Camilleri (Broken Hill Historical Society/Broken Hill Council), Broken Hill, NSW, 2002; Government Gazette, Wednesday 11 December 1935, p. 4738; Labor's Thirty Years' Record in South Australia: 1893-1923, published by the Daily Herald, Adelaide, p. 73.

Related entries

Archival resources

National Library of Australia

  • Biographical cuttings on Nydia Edes, politician, 344809; National Library of Australia. Details

Outback Archives, Broken Hill City Library

  • Edes, Nydia, Filing system by name; Outback Archives, Broken Hill City Library. Details

Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project)

  • Interview with Margot White, 4 February 2009; Lemon, Barbara and Georgia Moodie; Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project). Details
  • Papers of Nydia Edes, c. 1960 - c. 1975; Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project). Details

Digital resources

ALP Women's Branch


Nydia Edes


Nydia Edes c.1985


Georgia Moodie

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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