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Vaughan, Grace Sydney (1922 - 1984)

1 April 1922
Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia
21 January 1984
Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia
Parliamentarian and Social Activist
Alternative Names
  • Ingram, Grace Sydney (Birth name)


Grace Sydney Vaughan served in the Western Australian Legislative Council from 1974 to 1980. She drew on her extensive experience as a community and social worker to campaign on issues concerned with poverty, unemployement and welfare.


Grace Sydney Ingram was born in Neutral Bay in 1922, the daughter of Archibald James Ingram (postal worker) and Grace Parker Morgan. She was educated at North Sydney Girls High School, then at the University of New South Wales (Diploma of Sociology) and the University of Western Australia, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Social Work. She married Walter Vaughan in Sydney in 1942; they had three children. Her second marriage was to Walter Yewers in 1975.

Grace Vaughan grew up during the Depression in the 1930s, and experienced directly the poverty that resulted from her father's unemployment. Over the years she worked in a variety of capacities in the fields of social welfare and community planning, as a trainee nurse, at Sydney radio station 2UE, and as a mail contractor when her husband was out of work during the 1960s.

Vaughan moved to Western Australia in 1968, where she worked as a family welfare officer for the Department of Community Welfare, and also as a community social worker and planning consultant. She was elected to the Legislative Council to represent the Australian Labor Party for the South-East Metropolitan Province in 1974. An unfavourable redistribution of electoral boundaries contributed to Vaughan losing her seat in the 1980 election, after only one term. While in Parliament she gained a formidable reputation for speaking forthrightly on unemployment, welfare, poverty, and related social justice issues. She also spoke passionately about the State's position on abortion, and introduced a bill to decriminalise homosexuality. Vaughan, in the face of considerable opposition, was also responsible for the installation of a women's toilet off the Parliament House corridor; previously women had to go down at least one floor to use the bathroom. Grace Vaughan died suddenly after a short illness in Perth in 1984.

Sources used to compile this entry: Black, David and Phillips, Harry, 'Making a Difference: Women in the West Australian Parliament 1921-1999', Parliament of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, 2000; Dale-Hallett, Liza and Diffey, Rhonda, 'Motherboards and Desert Sands - Stories of Australian Rural Women', Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies , vol. 27, University of Nebraska Press/Project Muse, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2006,; Watson, Judyth [ed.], We Hold Up Half the Sky: The Voices of Western Australian ALP Women in Parliament, Australian Labour Party, Perth, Western Australia, 1994.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia

  • [Biographical cuttings on Grace Vaughan, president of the International Federation of Social Workers, 1982-1984, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals], Bib ID 2067579; National Library of Australia. Details

Lisa MacKinney

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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