A timeline of changing status for women in Australia

Timeline created by oliviahayston
  • The right to own property

    Granted by the Married Women's Property Act 1893 (NSW).
  • The right to enter contracts

    Granted by the Married Women's Property Act 1893 (NSW).
  • The right to higher education and to graduate from university

    Given to women early in the twentieth century.
  • The right to sue and be sued

    Granted under the Married Persons (Property and Tenants) Act 1901.
  • The right to vote (NSW)

    Was won by the campaigns of women who became known as "suffragettes", because the right to vote is also called suffrage.
  • The right to choice and protection in sexual relationships

    The age of consent for girls was raised to 16 by the Crimes (Girl's Protection) Act 1910 (NSW). In the 1980s, under amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) it became possible for men to be charged with sexual assault of their wives, though few cases have occurred.
  • Social security rights

    1st given specifically to women with the introduction of a war widows pension - under War Pensions Act 1914.
  • The right to enter certain professions

    Granted in a piecemeal fashion. Women were able to practice as lawyers, for instance, from 1918 onwards.
  • Women's right to enter professions

    Passage of the Women's Legal Status Act 1918 (NSW) opened the way to recognition of women's right to enter professions. Many women who had successfully completed their degrees were able to do so, and some were elected to parliament in the 1920s.
  • Social security rights

    Pensions for civilian widows first paid 1926. Commonwealth government established full widows pension - Widows Pension Act 1942 (Cth) - also paid to de facto wives and their children. Child endowment paid to mothers 1941. 1968 the States Grants (Deserted Wives) Act (Cth) gave grants to the states to provide welfare to single women not covered by the widows pension. 1973 - supporting mothers benefit introd. Cth - provided welfare for women (& men 1977) who were single parents for whatever reason.
  • Custody of children

    Under common law, married women had no right to the custody of children. In 1916 in NSW, women were given the right to custody of their children after the death of the children's father. It was not until 1934 that a court could order custody to either parent under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1934 (NSW). Aboriginal women and men have not received the same parenting rights, however up until the late 1960s, many had children forcibly removed from their care (8000 between 1885 and 1969 in NSW)
  • Minority Groups

    In the 1940s, Aboriginal women were given the same social security rights as other women. The 1967 referendum changed the Constitution so that the Commonwealth could make laws concerning Aboriginal people and they were made full citizens.
  • Australian Women's Conference for Victory in War and Victory in Peace

    Held in Sydney. Participants drew up a program of reforms for the government to incorporate into post-war Australia. This document, the Australian Women's Charter, contained 23 objectives such as the establishment of a national network of childcare centres and equal pay. It is considered a 'landmark manifesto' of Australian feminism.
  • The right to sit on juries

    Women could no longer be exempted from jury duty simply because they were women, under the Jury Act 1977 (NSW).
  • Period: to

    Women challenged their secondary status to men

    Feminist movement took on matters such as discrimination in the workplace and liquor licensing laws in some states, which said women couldn't be served in the public bar.
    - Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
    - Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
    - Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • The right to equal pay for equal work

    Granted to most women in 1972. Equal pay was first granted to NSW teachers in 1959.
  • International Women's Year

    UN proclaimed the year to be International Women's Year to promote issues relating to women around the world.
  • The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

    An international treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly - an international bill of rights for women
  • Women enrolled in higher education comprised 53% of enrolments