Karen Beck joined the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Police in 1973; this merged with the Commonwealth Police and the Narcotics Bureau to become the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 1979. During that time she worked in the Women Police Section and in the Criminal Investigation Division Drug Squad and became the first woman Detective in the ACT Police – until then, only men were considered suitable to undertake detective work.
A specialist in aviation medicine, Group Captain Tracy Smart became the first woman appointed Chief Instructor and then Commanding Officer at the RAAF Institute of Aviation Medicine, holding the latter post from 1997-99 and 2003-04. Her special interest in women in aviation is evident in her published articles and papers presented nationally and internationally.
With service on Army medical missions on Bougainville, in Indonesia and in the Solomon Islands as well as inland Australia, Captain Kath Evans advises anyone wanting an adventurous or unusual career ‘if you want to do something, find someone else who likes doing it and ask them for encouragement and motivation – it’s easier than you think!’
In 2006 the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) appointed Allison Sudradjat as Minister Counsellor, its most senior position in Indonesia. This was the culmination of Allison’s life long interest in and love for Indonesia.
In 2001 Royal Australian Navy hydrographic officer, Lieutenant Commander Jenny Daetz became the first RAN surveyor in seventy years to visit Mawson’s Hut in isolated Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica. Lieutenant Commander Daetz charted navigational hazards in previously poorly-charted channels and also updated the tidal data collected by Sir Douglas Mawson in 1912.
Australia’s first female General, Major-General Cosson’s work in defence logistics has contributed to peace operations in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bougainville. Continue reading
Three years after she joined the South Australia Public Service in 1986 to head the Equal Opportunities Branch in the state Department of Personnel and Industrial Relations, Joan Russell took leave without pay to undertake an unusual mission – to go to Antarctica with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) as the Station Leader at Casey.
Founder of Cambodia’s Sunrise Children’s Villages, former secretary with DFAT Geraldine Cox says there is nothing like the personal reward she has every day, following the progress of her children as they develop their potential and their independence. Geraldine, who left her Adelaide school at 15 without completing her formal education and ‘grabbed what life had to offer with both hands’, now devotes her life to ensuring Cambodian children have the opportunity of schooling.
Australian obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin was born in Sydney on 24 January 1924, one of six children of Elinor and Theodore Nicholson. The family lived in the suburb of Ryde, at ‘The Hermitage’, built by John Blaxland in 1842. Catherine went to school at Frensham in Mittagong NSW, and in 1946 graduated from the University of Sydney Medical School.
Poet and peace activist
As a 19-year-old student at Melbourne University Aileen Yvonne Palmer joined the Australian Communist Party in 1934 and the following year graduated with Honours in French and German. The elder daughter of Australian writers Vance and Nettie Palmer, Aileen served as an interpreter and secretary for the British Medical Aid Unit during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1938).
In 1915 the Los Angeles Record described Isabel Letham as ‘a Sydney Sea Gull’ and the world’s greatest stunt swimmer who ‘became proficient at aqua-planing while dodging sharks in Sydney harbor’. Isabel Letham achieved this international profile after being chosen by Duke Kahanamoku from the crowd watching him at Manly Beach, trying the new Hawaiian-style board surfing.
Eleanor Hinder used the skill she had developed working in industrial welfare to benefit women in China and Southeast Asia. After teaching science at school and university she was appointed Superintendent of Staff Welfare for the Sydney department store Farmer & Co Ltd. She was a founder of the Sydney City Girls’ Amateur Sports Association which was set up in 1918 to provide recreation and organised sporting opportunities for women in business and industry. She was instrumental in organising the Australian Federation of University Women (AFUW) and arranging its affiliation to the International Federation of University Women (IFUW).
Joice Loch was an extraordinary Australian. A freelance journalist, published novelist and self-trained doctor, she allied herself closely with the Society of Friends (the Quakers) and went on a Quaker mission to Poland with her husband, Sydney, after World War I. For the rest of her life she dedicated her time and resources to helping refugees who were victims of various wars.
Florence Narrelle Hobbes was born at Merriwinga Tilba Tilba, on the south coast of NSW on 21 August 1878. She was never known by her first name, but as Narrelle, after Queen Narrelle, wife of King Merriman, or Umbarra, the local Aboriginal tribal leader. Narrelle was the second youngest child of John T Hobbes, Police Magistrate, and his second wife Margaret Goldie. Her father had five children from a previous marriage, and then a son and seven daughters.
Inaugural vice-president of the Women’s Service Guilds of Western Australia in 1909, Bessie Rischbieth recognised the importance of international organisations of women in pursuing a feminist agenda of social justice. The Guilds were linked to the International Council of Women after a Western Australian branch of the National Council of Women was established in 1911, but five years later disaffiliated to pursue their commitment to social reform.
The Australian Presbyterian Mission was established in Busan, South Korea in the early 1890s by three women missionaries: Belle Menzies (1856–1935), Bessie Moore (1863-1956) and Agnes Brown (1868–1954).
Alice Chisholm (1856-1954) and Rania MacPhillamy (1886-nd)
During the First World War Alice Chisholm and Rania MacPhillamy were prominent among the Australian women volunteers working in Egypt. The two in partnership ran canteens for the men of the Light Horse, in the malarial heat and dust of Cairo, Suez and Rafa from 1916 to 1919.