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 44 to 50 Women Supporting WW1 PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE


AWNL - A Magnificent Demonstration

The Woman
1 January 1918:
The Great “Women’s Rally” organised by the Australian Women’s National League, and held on the 12th December, in the Auditorium, can only be described as a “Magnificent Demonstration”...

The Right Hon. the Prime Minister (who was accompanied by Mrs W. M. Hughes) received a well-deserved ovation by the vast audience on his appearance upon the platform. After tumultuous cheering and waving of flags the standing audience broke into “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, which was heartily sung ...

The President, in welcoming the Prime Minister, said -

In very few words I wish to welcome you all very heartily to our Women’s Rally, in the name of the Australian Women’s National League.

We know that there may be many in this large audience who do not agree with the proposals of the Government - that we should sent Reinforcements to our men at the front - and the reasons they have for their disapproval are to them, we suppose, right, but we ask you to remember that this meeting was arranged in order to arouse fresh interest, thought and enthusiasm, and more especially to appeal to the Women of Australia to use their judgement and reason before they cast their votes either “for” or “against” on the 20th of this month ...

To those of us who intend to vote “Yes” I have only to say “Well done”, but to those of you, who I have said before, for reasons which seem good to them, intend to vote “No” I ask you, between this and the 20th, to give the matter more earnest consideration, ... just pause; think of the husband, son, brother, or sweetheart, who is fighting for your honour, for your freedom in the awful battlefields of the worlds, and ask yourself, if that brave soldier could see you then, would he not turn to you with reproachful looks, and his pleading voice sound in your ears “Why desert me in my hour of trial? Send help lest I never see your face again”.

Women electors, think of this!

AWNL - Is the Women’s Vote Responsible?

The Woman
1 January 1918:
Australia answers –
NO! By a majority of 164 794.

Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia recorded a NO VOTE.
Tasmania a small YES MAJORITY.
West Australia holds the honour of the COMMONWEALTH.
W.A. records YES in unmistakable language.
A majority of 34 314.

Is the women’s vote responsible for the debacle?


AWNL - Falling Birth Rate – A National Peril

The Woman
1 February 1918:
In conclusion Professor Berry said “No amount of sophistry can dispel these ugly facts, nor can any amount of casuistry divert us from the conclusion that, even prior to the war, we were rushing headlong to destruction. The war is simply hastening that end.

Modern democracy, as we understand it, would appear, like Sodom and Gomorrah, to be doomed to destruction, and for the like reason – there are not ten righteous persons in it. The decline in the birth rate of each of the abler and more valuable sections of the community, and the increase in the numbers of the actual feebleminded and less effective and profitable citizens may be – as it probably was in Rome and Greece – the actual cause of the downfall of any civilisation where these phenomena are observed.

That this decline is taking place in almost every part of the British Empire and is being accelerated by the war is indisputable. The handwriting is on the wall. The endowment of racially fit parentage is the great eugenic problem which in this century faces the chief European nations, and one can only express the hope that it may not be given to Germany alone to supply the solution.

AWNL - Disloyal Utterances Resolution

The Woman
1 June 1918:
The following resolution was passed with acclamation at the last meeting of the Council: “That the Council of the Australian Women’s National League beg Mr Watt, the Acting Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, to take immediate action regarding the disloyal utterances of Dr Mannix and others who are outraging the feelings of every loyal Australian.

That any man in any position whatever should be allowed to speak of this war as a “sordid trade war” in this hour of Empire’s peril – and moreover to repeat and insult at such a crisis – is such a flagrant act of disloyalty that this League looks to the Federal authorities to uphold the honour of Australia under the War Precautions Act.

AWNL - Parents’ Consent

The Woman
1 June 1918:
Resolution - At a meeting held in Euroa of the Australian Women’s National League, a resolution was passed asking Central to implore the Government not to pass a Bill making it legal for boys of 18 to enlist without their parents’ consent, while able-bodied shirkers are allowed to escape service for their country. High schools and universities will be quite depleted of students, and loyal families have no one but women left, and youths of 18 have no possible chance of learning to earn their living, any who survive returning with shattered nerves. Why should mere children be sacrificed because the Government failed to have sufficient courage to bring in universal service?

AWNL - A War-Time Election

The Woman
1 August 1918:
With the fate of civilisation hanging in the balance, the very existence of our Empire threatened by a barbarous foe, and Australian battalions at the front being disbanded through lack of reinforcements, the electors of Albert Park were asked to select a Parliamentary representative in succession to the late Mr G. Elmsie, MLA.

The people of the constituency were offered the choice between a well-known local resident or a returned soldier, both pledged to the vigorous prosecution of the war, and a nominee of the Trades Hall and of all those other nondescript other organisations that mumble inanities about “profiteering” and clamour for the cessation of hostilities at the front and peace “by negotiation”. And the people of Albert Park by a large majority selected the nominee of the Trades Hall and the other nondescript organisations!

What can be said of a choice of this description? The thing is appalling. While the men of Australia are laying down their lives in defence of freedom, and the bulk of those who remain at home are making sacrifices to back them up, the people of Albert Park constituency, when asked to do nothing more risky or more perilous than to record a vote endorsing the righteous cause for which the Allies stand, deliberately refuse, and express instead their policy of pacifism ...

Evil forces are at work in the constantly sapping our “will to win,” and unless strenuously combated they will make headway.

AWNL - The Red Flag

The Woman
1 August 1918:
By formally adopting the Red Flag as their emblem and deciding that it shall fly over the Melbourne Trades Hall all the year round, the extremists who control the Labor movement have come out into the open ...

continued see Red Flag Appendix 4  

AWNL Australian and Empire Trade and Vigilance Committee

The Woman
1 October 1918:
Annual Conference Report 1918 - 

Madame President and Members of the Council - Ten thousand cards bearing the imprimatur of the AWNL were issued from our Central offices of 25th September, 1915, urging members to “help Empire by purchasing Australian or British made goods”, and a reduced replica of this card has stood for over two years at the top of a page devoted to trade in our official organ “The Woman

AWNL - The Power Behind the Throne

The Woman
1 November 1918:
I trust that the time may be ever far distant when women will strive to usurp the place of men in our Parliaments …
Woman’s strongest power lies in the fact of her womanhood. Let us lose sight of that and our influence in home and public life will be diminished to perhaps vanishing point. I love my sex – and I realise what a tremendous power lies in our hands. To compete with men in the political world of strife and conflict would be to kill it. Let us leave places in our legislature to our men.

Let ours be the power behind the throne, and we shall not fail … Women already – at any rate in Victoria – can practise as doctors, barristers and solicitors, and I was under the impression that they have in those professions the same legal status as men. In my opinion a woman’s temperament does not fit her to take her place as chief magistrate of city or shire, or as justice of the peace – our work lies in other spheres.

In this terrible war womanhood has triumphed – her unerring instinct had led her aright. Our men, fighting for the sake of right on the battlefield of the world, have sent a message of encouragement – “God bless them”.

Is not that enough?

Yours faithfully, Eva Hughes, President A.W.N. League’

AWNL - Cease Firing - The Armistice – and After

The Woman
1 December 1918:
The armistice has been signed, the celebrations and thanksgiving are over, the German navy has seen the dawn and close of “The Day” – and the peoples of the Allied nations are beginning to realise that the problems of peace are as difficult and complex as the problems of war …

What is apparent is that the once proud and arrogant Teuton is whining in his hour of defeat like a whipped puppy. Plaintive appeals for a relaxation of the armistice terms are being made – terms that have surprised everyone by their extreme moderation … And in the cringing appeals that the Germans are making the women of Germany are joining.

The answer returned by the women of France must be the answer of a civilised world. The women of Germany raised no protest against the “frightfulness” which the German army practised in Belgium; they expressed no horror at the sinking of the Lusitania; the received unmoved protests of France and of French women against the deportations of girls from Lille.

There are instances on record of German women torturing starving British prisoners by placing jugs of clear, cold water and plates of savoury viands just beyond their reach …

There is, alas, no sign that the heart of the Hun has been changed: no sign of anything save a possible change in the form, and not in the ideals of Government. For the present we can only give thanks for the brilliant victory that has crowned the Allied arms, and sustain ourselves with the hope that the statesmen of the Allied nations under Divine guidance will remain steadfast in the pursuit of the ideals for which their gallant soldiers have been fighting, so that in the end, when peace comes it will be a permanent peace worthy of all the sacrifices that have been made ...

The awful struggle and bloodshed is over. The world is free. The forces of a great morality, of simple justice and Right, have waged an unequal war against the evil forces of immorality, brute ravening strength, injustice and might.

And Right has prevailed.