Women's Web
stories actions




some Australian Women's responses to war

From 1909 to now, including
two women, two organisations, two journals during WWI


11-13  PREQUEL
11.  Two Women, Two Organisations
13.  Our Herstory Before WWI


18.  The British Empire on Trial


19.  AWNL - Federal Platform
20.  Do Not Seek Place or Power


21.  The Empire on Its Trial

23.  World Domination
23.  The British Empire on Trial
24.  Patriotic Meetings
26.  Fight or Work Campaign
26.  Patriotic Resolutions
27.  What the AWNL has Done
27.  Enemy Within the Camp
28.  Christmas of Faith and Hope

29.  Appalled Tades Hall Council
30.  Appeal to the Women
30.  The Striker and the Shirker
31.  I Didn’t Raise My Musket
32.  The Prime Minister in England
32.  Australia’s Honour at Stake
33.  Strikes are Rife in Australia
33.  Empire Day Demonstrationl
34.  Petition for Conscription
35.  22,000 Signatures Five Days
36.  Australia or Germany
36.  League Appeal to Women
38.  Defend the Empire’s Trade
39. Woman’s Influence

40.  War Savings Patritic Scheme
41.  The War Drum of Unionism
41.  Australia Finances Two Wars
42.  Suggestive Thoughts on Thrift
43.  1917 Petition for Conscription

44.  A Magnificent Demonstration
45.  Women’s Vote Responsible?
45.  Falling Birth Rate – Nat. Peril
46.  Disloyal Utterances
46.  Parents’ Consent
46.  A War-Time Election
47.  The Red Flag
48.  Trade Vigilance Committee
48.  The Power Behind the Throne
49.  The Armistice – and After

51.  Thankfulness to God
51.  Madness that is Bolshevism
52.  Those Who Will Never Return
52.  Peace Terms - Versailles

56.   War is Women’s Business


57.  Vida Goldstein


58. The Woman Voter
59. A Ministry of Peace
60. Settling Intrenational Disputes
61. Women Will Stand Together
61. Women of the World Unite!
62. Shall the Mothers Rejoice?
63. Women, Bethink Yourselves
64.  Fighting for Civil Liberty
65. Women of the World are One
66. An Outrage on Civilisation
66. White Australia Policy Done
66.  A Scheme Help Unemployed
67.  War and the People’s Bread
68.  Christmas Message All


69.  No Secret Imperial Policy
69.  W.P.A. Women’s Bureau
70.  Women Seeking Work
70.  Proposals for Work
71.  The Unemployment Bureau
71.  Women’s Farm
72.  A Farm Has Been Taken
72.  Labour Bureau New Office
73.  Women’s Conference Hague
74.  A Free Press
75.  Women’s Labour Bureau
75.  Attempt to Annihilate Bureau
76.  Defence of Their Own Rights
76.  Cost of Living Deputation
77.  Parliamentary Rebuff
78.  Members Frightened of Us?
79.  Deputation Minister Defence
79.  Form a Women’s Peace Army
82.  Congress of Women - Hague
83.  Mothers Fight
84.  Necessitous Women
85.  WPA Requests Prime Minister
86.  Asiatic Deprived of Work
86.  Tabloid Philosophy - Patriotism
87.  Venereal Disease
87.  I Didn’t Raise My Son Soldier
88.  Peace Mandate
89.  Our Bureau at Christmas Time
89.  Women Continue to Sing It


90.  Soldiers Attack Mr Katz
90.  Who Loses the War?
91.  War and Rights of Citizens
92.  Mr Hughes Incites to Murder
93. Condemns Authorities
93.  WPA and the Prime Minister
97.  The Little Nations
97.  War Profits, Food Prices
97.  Not Breeding Machines
98.  The Children’s Peace Army
98.  Almost Without Bread
98.  Peace Proposals
99.  Conscription by Proclamation
100. Justice Blind in One Eye
100. Women's Farm
100. Unemployed Women
101. Letter from a Prisoner of War
101. Yarra Bank Meeting
104. Who Profits War? Mining
104. Distress Amongst Women
105. Social Evil Convention
106. Women’s National League
106. Church and Social Questions
106. Women Belligerent Countries
107. State Govt. Compels Women
107. So Mr Hughes Hopes
108. Opposing Conscription
108. Peace Army Leaflets
110. Child Labour
111. Manifesto Peace Army
112. New Premises
113. Colours
114. 6,000 Processionists
114. Persia - New Agreement
114. Secret Mission to London
115. Proclamation Annulled!
115. Women for Permanent Peace


116. Women’s Terms of Peace
117. WPA and Russian Revolution
118. War is Out of Date
119. Workers Never Wavered
120. Raid on Parliament
120. The Strike
121. WPA Established a Commune
122. We Lead - Conscription No!
122. Hugely Successful Meetings


123. Press, Pulpit Purse
124. It is with Great Regret
124. The ‘Shirker’ Class
124. Meeting Guild Hall
124. Protest against Profiteering
125. President Wilson’s Speech
125. The Dawn of Peace


127. WPA Peace Buttons
127. Women’s Peace Congress
127. Delegation to Europe
129. Starving Babies of Germany
130. Peace Congress Zurich
131. Rule of Force and Spoilation 
131. Old Order is Not Changed
132. Peace - Unspeakable
134. Hatred Treaty of Versailles
134. Colour Caste’s a Lie
134. Pagan Rites Ended
135. It is War, It is War
135. Congress Deep Regret
136. Zurich and Versailles
137. Old-Time Despotism
138. Order Out of Chaos
139. The World is Sick unto Death
139. Misunderstanding and Hate
140. Not Enough Return Passage
140. This Publication Ceases


144-148 SEQUEL
144 Women in Black
145 Beyond the Garden Gate

149-177 APPENDICES - 1 to 9

178-180 INDEX 




Pages 116-122 Women Opposing WW1 PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE


WPA Women’s Terms of Peace

Woman Voter
22 February 1917:

  1. Women to be given Equal Political Rights with Men in all countries where Representative Government Exists.

  2. Education of Children in Principles of Anti-Militarism and Internationalism.

  3. Self-Government Not to be Refused to Any People.

  4. Abolition of Conscription and Every Form of Militarism.

  5. Prohibition of Press and Platform Censorship.

  6. Foreign Policy to be subject to Democratic Control.

  7. General Disarmament to be aimed at by Governments taking over the manufacture of the munitions of war and controlling International Traffic in them.

  8. Respect for Nationality - No territory to be transferred without the consent of the men and women in it.

  9. Freedom of the Seas - Trade Routes to be open on equal terms to the shipping of all nations.

  10. Investments to be made at the risk of the investor, without claim to the official protection of his Government.

  11. Secret Treaties to be void, and the theory of the Balance of Power to be abandoned.

  12. Our Social System to be remodelled on a basis of co-operation, so that production and distribution shall be controlled by the people for the people.

  13. International Disputes to be referred to an International Court of Justice, in which men and women of all classes shall be represented.

  14. No Declaration of War unless the people declare in favour of it by Referendum.

Woman Voter 1 March 1917:
Peace Talk - Doris Blackburn

And dare we talk of peace when wars are raging?
When rivers run with blood in honour’s cause? (“Honour” they told me!)
When men forge chains on themselves for freedom;
And children starve, and stricken women groan;
Dare we talk peace?

They say these wars are righteous. /
Righteous! Then all the world of reason is o’erthrown.
Dare we talk peace? /

Dare we talk peace? Yes! Talk and sing, and shout it.
Thunder it, mighty oceans, on your shores.
Breathe it through all the world, oh, winds of heaven.
God give us peace, yes peace in honour’s cause.

Doris Blackburn in “Fellowship”

WPA - Women’s Peace Army and the Russian Revolution

Woman Voter
29 March 1917:
At a meeting of the WPA last Thursday evening, Miss Goldstein dwelt at some length on the Russian revolution, and the causes leading up to the revolt against autocracy and militarism. She said that, although it was difficult to judge clearly from newspaper reports, and civilians were practically united in demanding the overthrow of the reactionary forces.

It was a splendid victory for the people, and the fact that they were promised such measures as the establishment of a Constitutional Assembly, Universal Suffrage, the right to strike, and an amnesty to political prisoners, proved that the old system of government by an autocratic power was doomed to destruction. Miss Goldstein considered that the rebellion had averted the danger of a separate peace by militarist Germany and autocratic Russia - a peace which would have meant a victory of the forces of reaction and a continuation of the system which brings poverty, misery and degradation to millions of people.

The following resolutions were carried unanimously -

- That the Australian WPA calls upon the citizens of the Commonwealth to give a mandate to those whom they elect to Parliament to refuse to accept as binding any decisions affecting Australia in the Empire War Cabinet unless they are submitted to a referendum of the people of Australia.

- That the Australian WPA, while deeply regretting that revolutionary methods had to be resorted to by the long suffering people of Russia to achieve some measures of freedom and justice, hopes the Governments of other countries will learn by events in Russia the danger of continuing or establishing industrial and political institutions which prevent equal opportunities for the development of their natural gifts being given to all sections of the people.

WPA - War is Out of Date

Woman Voter 12 April 1917:
Senate Election Manifesto of the People’s Candidate, Miss Vida Goldstein -

Fellow Citizens ... War is Out of Date ...

Desire for commercial supremacy, or fear of losing it, has kept all the nations armed to the teeth. This weight of armaments, upon which our capitalistic system depends, and on whose maintenance the bulk of the national income must be expended, has kept the working classes (without whose labour no wealth could be created) in such an oppressive condition of wage slavery, that in every country they were building up their industrial and political organisations with the object of bringing about a complete change of the commercial system - so that production should be for use and not for profit. Sometimes, when conditions became more than usually oppressive, the double-edged weapon of the strike had to be resorted to.

Their teaching so aroused the fear of the Great Powers of Industry, whose enormous profits depend on a docile wage-earning working class, that in every country certain of these financial magnates, backed up by newspaper and naval and military tools, have openly declared that the only way to bring the working men to their senses was to have a great war, which would destroy the growing power of Trade Unionism, which was directly opposed to the established power of capitalism.

We do not say this war was promoted with the deliberate object of crushing the workers, but we do say that belief in Might, the fear of enemies without and within national boundaries, the use of the press, of armament firms, of secret diplomacy, of naval and military strength to bolster up a social system, under which the great mass of the people live in avoidable anxiety, wretchedness and ugliness, has made such a Clash of interests that a Clash of Arms between Nations Prepared for War, some more, some less, became inevitable when Circumstances and Opportunity sounded the tocsin of alarm ...

We must learn to regard every nation as a potential friend rather than a potential enemy. We must aim atchanging our social and industrial system so as to produce for use and not for profit. Above all, we must learn that we can never win anything that is worth keeping as individuals or as a nation, by Force and Hate. We must oppose war because it is based fear and hate and lies. Love and Truth and Justice alone can exalt us, individually and collectively.

WPA - The One Band of Workers Who Never Wavered

The Woman Voter
11 May, 1917:
Vida Goldstein - The WPA and the Women’s Peace Army will be remembered in Australian History as the one band of workers who never wavered for one instant in the Australian fight for internationalism, which the WPA began on August 7, 1914.

Those who, believing in Peace and Internationalism, voted on May 5 for the Win-the-War-at-any-cost-of-life-rather-than-have-peace-by-negotiation-Labour Party, sacrificed their principles without even gaining what would have been a satisfaction to them - a Labour victory. What can a party gain in exchange for its soul?

May 6 saw us in full swing again at Yarra Bank, when we had a magnificent meeting, and on the 7th factory meetings were resumed. We ask everybody who supported us at the election to join the WPA and Women’s Peace Army to assist us in our industrial, political, anti-militarist and international work in the knowledge that it can only prosper if it is absolutely true to the scientific principle that righteousness alone exalts individuals and nations.

WPA - Raid on Parliament by Unemployed Women

The Argus 3 August 1917:
Raid on Parliament by Unemployed Women -
Extraordinary scenes were witnessed at Federal Parliament House yesterday, when a number of women, headed by Miss Adela Pankhurst, attempted to storm the House and demand work ... about one hundred women rushed into the House shouting “We want work. Adjourn the House”. Police cleared them out. It is understood that a number of the women present had been dismissed from the ammunition works recently.

WPA - The Strike

Woman Voter
30 August, 1917:
The strike situation grows worse daily, in spite of the evidence to the contrary in the papers, which would make us believe that the workers are a mere excrescence on the community, that it doesn’t matter at all whether 60,000 men cease work - their places can readily be filled by “loyalists” - schoolboys, clerks and women.

The Strike - Will YOU take one or two children of Strikers until the strike is over? The WPA has arranged with the Strike Committee to take children from the most necessitous families at once. Do Your Part!

Women Voter
11 October 1917:
The Strike - Gift Night - Guild Hall “Industrial Parliament” address by Miss John. Next Monday the WPA and Women’s Peace Army will hold a “Gift Night” at the Guild Hall, in aid of the families of the Wharf Labourers Union. Members and friends are invited to bring gifts of provisions of all kinds. Miss John will explain her proposal for an Industrial Parliament. This is the ninth week of the Wharf Labourers’ Strike, and, though the spirit of the women is as courageous as ever, their needs grow more acute every day.

The WPA Established a Commune

Woman Voter
8 November 1917:
This brief sketch of the WPA and Women’s Peace Army shows why it was natural we should be ready for action when we saw the first signs we should be ready for action when we saw the first signs of the awakening of the people as to what must follow in the Railway Strike in NSW against the introduction of the Card System, and the Wharf Labourers Strike in Victoria against the Cost of Living by refusing to handle food for export except for war purposes.

At this point, Miss Cecilia John, with her phenomenal business ability, stepped into the breach with far-reaching proposals for establishing a commune a Workers’ Commune at the Guild Hall, with the object of befriending the women and children, who are always the greatest sufferers in an industrial conflict, and helping the men to win out in their fight in their fight against the unendurable exploitation and oppression of their class, and lay the foundation of Industrial Democracy in Australia ...
see Appendix 10

The Women Lead - Conscription No!

Woman Voter 15 November 1917:
An Unarmed Australia - The thunderbolt has fallen. On 8th inst., without a word of warning from the Prime Minister, another Conscription Referendum was announced. No calling of Parliament together. The referendum to be taken within five weeks, and at the time of writing the statement is made that it will be taken on a Thursday instead of a Saturday, the writ issued two days after the first announcement. A referendum, without absolute freedom of speech and press, is a weapon of despotism.

Therefore, friends, from now till December 20 you must work and sacrifice yourselves in the cause of Freedom and Righteousness, as you have never done before in a political campaign.

Send us the most liberal contributions you can afford; send us, indeed, what you feel you cannot afford - as a sacrificial offering - and get your friends to do the same, so that in the few weeks at our disposal we may do all that is possible by meetings and other means to destroy the seeming power of Shackled Speech and a Shackled Press to Guild Hall, Swanston Street. Keep Australia Free - Vida Goldstein

WPA - Hugely Successful Meetings

Woman Voter
13 December 1917:
Early last week Miss Goldstein held hugely successful meetings in Warrnambool, Mortlake and Camperdown, under the auspices of the Corangamite Anti-Conscription Council. Later she left to speak at Hobart, Campbelltown, Launceston, Deloraine, Devonport and Burnie.