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Dunn, Dorothy Joan (1937 - )


5 March 1937
Skipton, Victoria , Australia
Community activist and Farmer


Dorothy Dunn lost her husband in the 1979 Streatham, Victoria bushfires. She decided to continue to run their farm on her own, and quickly realised that farming in Australia was seen as a male profession. The contribution of women was invisible, and they had little influence in decision making at any level. In 1992 she attended a meeting of similar minded women in Ballarat, Victoria, convened by Liz Hogan, a Project Officer with the Rural Women's Network. Out of the meeting, the peak body Australian Women in Agriculture was formed, with Dorothy as inaugural president. Her presidency and long history of work as an advocate for the role of women in agricultural policy making was recognised with an AO in 1999.


1988-94: Councillor, Shire of Ararat. Dorothy Dunn has also been involved in her local community as Secretary of the development committee, and as a member of the Central Highlands Rural Finance Counselling Service. Her service to the development of her rural community was acknowledged with the award of a Centenary Medal in 2001.

1992 - February 1993: Member of committee to set up Australian Women in Agriculture organisation.

1993-1997: Founding member, and inaugural President, Australian Women in Agriculture, one of three national bodies representing rural women at state and federal level, to recognise, support and raise the profile of rural women's contribution to agriculture and natural resource management, to unite such women and to facilitate their participation in decision making. Upon retirement from the Presidency, Dorothy remained as a Board Member for the following year, and was at the same time (1997-99) a member of the Victorian Rural Women's Reference Group for the Office of Rural Affairs, Department of National Resources and Environment.

1993: Participant, Women's Stories, 4th Annual Women on Farms Gathering, Tallangatta.

1994: Committee Member, Treasurer, First International Women in Agriculture Conference.

1995: Member of the Steering Committee, National Rural Women's Forum, Canberra, as President of AWiA. Out of this Forum came the National Rural Women's Agenda, for the guidance of the Women's Policy Unit within the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.

1996: Steering Committee member, Ararat Women on Farms Gathering.

1997: Opened Bendigo Women on Farms Gathering, with Pat McNamara, Minister for Agriculture and Resources.

1998: National sponsorship co-ordinator and delegate, 2nd International Women in Agriculture Conference, Washington.


  • Submission, 'Australian Women in Agriculture', to The Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Regional Services, Inquiry into Infrastructure and the Development of Australia's Regional Areas, as Policy Convenor, AWiA.
  • Admitted as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)


  • Facilitator, Social Issues Group, Australian Women in Agriculture Conference.
  • Recipient, Centenary Medal.

Dorothy Dunn is still actively involved in her local community.

Sources used to compile this entry: Marius Cuming interview with Dorothy Dunn, ABC Rural Legends, Online Editor: Judy Kennedy; National Editor ABC Rural: Shane Mahony, ABC Radio & ABC Online, 2002,; Herd, Margaret (ed.), Who's Who in Australia 2002, 38 edn, Crown Content, Melbourne, 2002, 2020 pp; Shane Mahony (ed.), ''Australian Women in Agriculture': Interview, Dorothy Dunn with Shane Mahony', Headspace , no. 13, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1999,

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