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SA Firsts - Timeline for South Australian firsts

Political and social rights for women

1876

 

Women property owners gain the right to vote in District Councils - but were not allowed to stand as candidates.
This was ahead of the United Kingdom where this right only applied in some Councils.

1879

 

The first State Secondary School for Girls in Australia opens in Adelaide - the Advanced School for Girls.

The Advanced School for Girls Old Scholars Association at a 1928 reunion
The Advanced School for Girls Old Scholars Association at a 1928 reunion.

1880

 

The University of Adelaide Degrees Act - admits women to degrees - the first University in Australia. The first woman graduate was Edith Dornwell B.Sc, a former student of the Advanced School for Girls.

Awarding the first science degree conferred by the University to Edith Dornwell

Speech by the Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Samuel Way, on awarding the first science degree conferred by the University to Edith Dornwell. The Advertiser on 17 December 1885.

1895

 

The Constitutional Amendment Act - women are given the right to vote and to stand as Members of Parliament.
   

1895

 

Catherine Helen Spence is appointed to the Government's Commission of Enquiry into the Adelaide Hospital - the first woman in Australia to participate in an official commission.
   

1896

 

Women vote in a general election for the first time in Australia and the second time anywhere in the world.
   

1897

 

Catherine Helen Spence stands for election to the Constitutional Convention for Federation, becoming Australia's first woman political candidate.
   

1897

 

Blanche McNamara is appointed the Inspector of Schools - the first woman school inspector in Australia.
   

1915

 

Women police are appointed - the first in the British Empire appointed on equal terms with men, including equal pay.
   

1919

 

Mrs Susan Benny was the first woman in Australia elected to enter local government (for Brighton council).
   

1965

 

Dame Roma Mitchell is appointed the first woman judge in Australia.
   

1970

 

South Australia becomes the first State in Australia to decriminalise abortion in certain circumstances.
   

1976

 

The government sets up the Women's Advisor's Office in the Premier's Department - the first State government to create such an office.
   

1991

 

Dame Roma Mitchell is the first woman appointed a State Governor in Australia.