125th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage - Celebrating Women Enacting Change

The District Council of Grant will celebrate generations of local women working to achieve change in the past, present and future in an exhibition to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of Women’s’ Suffrage.

On 18 December 1894, a landmark piece of legislation was passed in the South Australian Parliament titled the Adult Suffrage Bill.  The legislation was one of the most significant, historic moments in our history and was brought about as the result of a decade-long struggle. 

The Bill enabled South Australia to become the first electorate in the world to give equal political rights to all citizens of South Australia, including indigenous women.  It meant that South Australian women became the first in the world who could not only vote but also stand as candidates for parliament. 

The District Council of Grant will commemorate this milestone by celebrating women from our district who have made a significant contribution to the lives of other women, children and the greater community, past and present.  An exhibition celebrating those special women who have affected other’s lives in a positive way will be curated using nominations from the community. 

It is hoped that women from different eras and different fields will be nominated by the public.

“We hope to receive information from the public about women who may have lived in earlier times, the likes of pioneering or war-time veterans, through to those still working on projects today.  They may not have changed laws, but they may have done something special that enacted change or helped others in our district live better lives” said project coordinator, Linda Hay.

“We are looking for women who made a difference in fields such as education, arts and culture, health, agriculture, sport, indigenous, migrant, armed services or leadership, and are open to other suggestions.  It may be your Grandma, your neighbour or a historic figure”

In the 19th century, Australian women had very few legal rights. Married women surrendered all property and any wages earned to their husbands. Husbands were the sole legal guardian of any children from a marriage and they could remove them from a mother’s care at any time, even bequeathing their care to other people in their will. 

At the time many parliamentarians felt that women were not emotionally or intellectually capable of properly participating in politics. The female suffragists struggled against prejudicial views of women that were embedded in society and the law and believed that if they could vote they could elect candidates who would legislate to improve society generally and strengthen the position of women and children in particular. 

The suffragists wrote to newspapers, made public speeches and held rallies and marches. Groups of women held discussions with important political figures and the longest petition ever was presented to the South Australian Parliament.  It is women like these that Council wish to celebrate, women who have rallied to make a difference to others in society in some way.

To nominate a women you consider worthy of celebrating, please complete the nomination form found at www.dcgrant.sa.gov.au/ 125th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage or contact Linda Hay at the District Council of Grant on 8721 0444 for more information.  Nominations close Tuesday 8 October.  The exhibition will be held at the Port MacDonnell Community Complex Gallery at the end of the year.

For further information contact Linda Hay, Community Projects Officer, on 8721 0444 or 0438 452 885 or by email at  linda.hay@dcgrant.sa.gov.au or go to Council's webpage here.

Photo courtesy of the State Library of South Australia: B 57605: South Australian women staging a protest in 1916 in support of English suffragette activity. South Australian women had already won the right to vote on 18 December 1894.


Womens Suffrage

Principal Office
Mount Gambier

324 Commercial Street West

PO Box 724

Mount Gambier SA 5290

Port MacDonnell
Community Complex

5 Charles Street

Port MacDonnell SA 5291