During a celebration year like this, our 70th Anniversary of the BPW Australia Federation, it is wonderful to have the honour of writing the introductory words to the History of the Past Presidents of BPW Australia. BPW has been true to our aims under the leadership of these outstanding women, who worked with the issues of their day with great teams of committees and other members to continue to be a influential change-maker over the past decades. Reading the page for each individual President, the progress we sometimes take for granted today, becomes obvious.
Documenting this history is also a big ' Thank You' to these leading ladies for their true commitment to effecting change. Through legislation, transforming social attitudes and inspiring women in local communities to step up with confidence through BPW support to do their part in raising the status of women in Australia, our Presidents have followed the fundamental BPW aim of empowering women. Over the seven decades since 1947, these Presidents have faced some tough times through discrimination and social, business and political pressures and no doubt were at times dispirited by the barriers and difficulties they had to overcome. You will not however read those stories in this history because despite the obstacles, they were successful in their fulfilment of the BPW Aims & Objectives and each contributed according to the issues of the day.
Acknowledgements to the project leader, Past President Marilyn Forsythe (2007-13) who wanted to ensure that every woman who has served in the role of Australian President was remembered as a champion for the rights of Australian women.
Thanks to Past President Kay Morrison (2004-2007), Margaret Tipper, BPWA Executive Secretary (2016), Robyn Duncan (BPWA Public Officer), Trish Clifford (BPW Central Coast) and Jean Murray (Immediate Past BPWA Executive Secretary) for their assistance and research.
Consider the actions you can take personally in your life to add to the valuable work of these leading ladies of BPW.
The History of the National Presidents of BPW Australia
On the 8th February 1947, representatives from six existing Australian Clubs passed a resolution that created the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. The name was changed to Business and Professional Women Australia at a later date. Prior to 1947 there was BPW Melbourne (1925), BPW Bendigo (1931) BPW Newcastle (1931) BPW Sydney (1939), BPW Brisbane (1946) and BPW Perth (1946).
The first National President was Hilda Chandler and there have been 27 National Presidents up to 2017 and many more will follow in the footsteps of these amazing women. Each of the Presidents has a profile that documents that they were volunteers with families and were employed in many diverse professional occupations. They made major contributions to women and girls in Australia and their histories show the changing and challenging periods for Australian women and with changing community values.
Each President was supported by a National Board of dedicated women that participated in campaigns; lobbying state and national governments; at times, they took to demonstrations in the street and never lost the passion for women’s rights.
BPW has campaigned for many issues to give women independence. Some the issues include equal remuneration, compulsory superannuation, the need for more women in public office and on decision making boards, stopping violence against women, sex discrimination, women on juries, paid parental leave, the introduction of uniform divorce laws, Federal funding for childcare facilities, reform of the Family Law Bill and the abolition of death duties.
The Past President History provides a history of each National President will continue to expand as information becomes available about the National Presidents since 1947, and new National Presidents that are yet to elected at the biennial National Conferences.
This project is dedicated to every BPW member who has served in any capacity in every level at Club, State, National and International.
Thank you to the women behind the BPW Australia Past President History Project:
Please submit further information and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org