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 69 to 89 Women Opposing WW1 PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE


WPA - No Secret Imperial Policy for Australia

Woman Voter 5 January 1915:
Another Imperial Conference

Let us not repeat the mistake made in connection with the last conference - that our Australian representatives should submit to secret negotiations and secret pledges in regard to our responsibility towards the Mother Country in any future wars she may undertake.

This war has shown us that our Government was absolutely prepared as to its line of action, which began with our first Defence Bill, was further cemented at the Imperial Conference of 1911, and “perfected” by Lord Kitchener’s and Sir Ian Hamilton’s visits. If Australia is to be represented at another Imperial Conference, let our delegates go definitely instructed by Parliament to enter into no defence or war arrangements with the Imperial Government that is not first submitted to the Commonwealth Parliament, and voted upon by our own people. Let our watchword be; No Secret Imperial Policy for Australia.

WPA - W.P.A. Women’s Bureau

Woman Voter 16 February 1915:
Those who marked the growing distress due to unemployment since the war will welcome the new activity to which the members of the WPA have been forced to turn. Some weeks ago an appeal was made through the columns of the paper for orders for work, in order that some little organisation of unemployed women’s labour might be attempted.

There was no response to that appeal, owing to the fact that the public did not believe in the sudden collapse which had overtaken the industries of the Commonwealth. The next step taken by the WPA organiser was to see the Secretary of the Lord Mayor’s Committee, Mr S Mauger, to ask him how many women had been registered. His reply was that there were no women registered and now facilities to enrol.

The WPA Club room was then put at the disposal of the women, and a register opened for both employers and employees. Since 25th January over 200 women have enrolled, nearly all of whom are in very urgent need of help. As soon as the public were aware of the existence of the bureau small donations came in to relieve the greatest distress.

WPA - Women Seeking Work

The Herald  16 February 1915
Housewives enquire -
Apprised by a statement from Miss Vida Goldstein of the Women's Political Association appearing in these columns yesterday, that the services of charwomen could be obtained through the association's employment bureau, several housewives made application today, and were supplied with the help needed. Miss Goldstein is of the opinion that if housewives will make a practice of applying to the association in this way, many distressed women will be able to earn enough money to keep the wolf from the door. Even if a housewife needs a woman for an hour only, she need not hesitate to apply ... Arlington Chambers, 229 Collins St., Melbourne Central 8013

WPA - Proposals for Work

The Argus 23 February 1915:
At a meeting of the Women's Political Association held last evening at 229 Collins Street the question of unemployment was discussed. Miss Vida Goldstein presided. The need for immediate organisation of the forces endeavouring to find work for the unemployed, and to give relief in cases of great distress was emphasised, and the following concrete proposals were agreed to -

1. That the Commonwealth and State Governments be asked to co-operate in meeting the problem of unemployment.
2. That a control board of men and women be appointed by the Governments to organise all those seeking to alleviate the conditions of the unemployed.
3. That foreign policy shall be subject to democratic control.
4. That a policy of decentralisation be entered upon.
5. That the work should be financed by a graduated tax, starting at 5% on incomes of and over £300 per annum.
6. That facilities be provided for training women to domestic science, farming etc.

WPA - The Unemployment Bureau

Woman Voter 25 February 1915:
The number of women registering at the WPA bureau continues to increase, and our little workroom is more than overcrowded. We hope that the old cry “Women’s place is in the Home” is dead forever.

Nobody can suggest a means by which women can keep their homes together without working, and work is no longer forthcoming. The economic dependence of women upon men is seen in all its weakness at the present time ... We now see that the wives who are breadwinners form a permanent class in the community, whose needs must be considered and met. They are the first to fall out of employment by reason of the nature of the work they do.

WPA - Women’s Farm

Woman Voter 9 March 1915:
Out of the work undertaken by the WPA to help unemployed women there has developed a movement to place some of these women on the land. Some Melbourne women, led by Miss Cecilia John and Miss Ina Higgins, have entered into arrangements with the Closer Settlement Board for the purchase of a block of land at Mordialloc, suitable for flower farming, fruit growing, poultry raising, etc.

WPA - A Farm of 14 Acres Has Been Taken

Woman Voter 13 April 1915:
A farm of 14 acres has been taken at Mordialloc, country already proved most profitable for bulbs and asparagus and early vegetables. Already some thousands of bulbs have been planted; a well is being sunk and a windmill erected ... Six young women will be in training under the capable direction of Cecilia John and Ina Higgins. The former is a poultry expert, and besides, “as good as a man” she can drive a car, paint a house, erect poultry sheds ... Miss Higgins is a trained and certified flower and fruit expert ... the trainees have no fees to pay; they give their work, receive a home ...

WPA - WPA Labour Bureau New Office

Woman Voter 27 April 1915:
The bureau is under happy conditions at the new premises in Latrobe-street. The workers are no longer cramped together, and there is abundant light and air. The upper floor is used as a workroom, and the ground floor is divided into offices, dining room and kitchen. There are new applications for work daily, but we cannot obtain work for all, owing to the cutting down of expenses by housewives, and the lack of financial support by the Government and by the public.

Formerly, when work was slack at the factories, women could always get day work at charring. Now, those who used to have a charwoman in at least once a week are doing all their own housework. Wages for domestic service are down. The registry offices are full, and day workers are not wanted. We cannot put them into our workroom, because the needs of unemployed women and their starving children in our midst do not appeal to the public. All their sympathies are for Belgium. They forget that charity begins at home.

Last week we were able to get a young widow with a baby half a day’s work. Her gratitude was pathetic. The three shillings that she earned, and the kindness of the people to whom we sent her, seemed to her a foretaste of heaven. She is typical of the hundreds for whom we cannot get even half a day’s work. Women are nursing their babies long after they should have been weaned, simply because they have not got food to give them. It is all they can do to get something - never enough - to keep themselves going. The sanctity of motherhood!

WPA - Women’s Peace Conference at The Hague

Woman Voter 4 May 1915:
For news of the Women’s Peace Conference, which opened at the Hague on 27th inst., we shall have to wait at least five weeks! Neither the “Argus” nor the “Age” has given us any information about it. To be sure, they told us that the inability of English women to attend the Conference, because of the shipping being held up, has caused widespread amusement.

Through the “Herald” we learn only that the Conference has passed resolutions -

1. Condemning the madness and horrors of war, and opposing the assumption that women can be protected in the conditions of modern warfare.

2. Declaring that women’s influence against war would be effective only when they had equal political rights.

3. Pledging itself to do all in its power to promote mutual understanding between the nations and urging the necessity for educating children in the ideals of constructive peace.

4. Stating that the women of the various nations were united, in spite of hatred caused by bloodshed.

A “Herald” cable from the “Times” says it was noted at the Conference that the German, Austrian and Hungarian delegates were more fiery in their denunciation of war than any of the other representatives. These bare facts cause great rejoicing among us; but is it not deplorable that the great morning papers should ignore the Women’s Peace Conference and its deep moral and spiritual significance?

While men fought and slew each other representative women of the belligerent nations dared to meet in friendly conclave, and, with hearts full of love for humanity, co-operate in a bloodless fight for Peace. We are hoping that Miss Harriet Newcomb was able to represent Australian women at the Conference.

WPA - A Free Press

Woman Voter
11 May 1915:
We learn from the “Age” that in the House of Representatives, on 7th inst., Mr Watt asked the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Hughes) if his attention had been directed to an issue of a paper called “The Woman Voter” of 4th May last, in which an article signed “Adela Pankhurst” appeared. It seemed to him to be of a seditious character, and if the Acting Prime Minister had not read it, would he examine it, with a view to its suppression, and the prevention of the repetition of any such dangerous nonsense?

Mr Hughes - Perhaps the hon. member can give me an idea of the nature of the article. I have not seen it, but I have heard the name “Pankhurst” (Laughter.) I cannot say I have been struck by the young lady. (Great laughter.) If the article is objectionable, I will consider whether action is necessary.
Mr Watt - Would I be in order in asking the Acting Prime Minister to read some passages in the article?
Mr Bruce Smith (contemptuously) - Why advertise the thing?
The Speaker - Is it a leading article?
Mr Watt - A very misleading one.

At Mr Hughes’ request the printed extract was handed to him for perusal.
Mr King O’Malley - Will the Acting Prime Minister agree to the appointment of a select committee to have the “sister” investigated? (Loud laughter.)
The Acting Prime Minister (quickly) - Yes, I appoint the hon. member chairman of the committee (Loud laughter.)

The “Argus,” evidently inspired by Mr Bruce Smith, M.P., did not mention the incident! We are glad Mr Watt reads the Woman Voter and that on Friday last he induced many others to read it, for the circulation of the facts contained in our paper is exactly what we want. We are sorry to find that Mr Watt does not believe in that magnificent palladium of liberty - a Free Press.
Also see Appendix 7 ‘Free Conscience, Free Press, Free Speech’

WPA - Attempt to Annihilate Our Bureau

Woman Voter 27 May 1915:
WPA Women ’s Labour Bureau 213 Latrobe Street
At a meeting of the Central Committee for the Relief of Unemployment, held on the 17th inst., the Minister of Public Works presiding, it was unanimously decided not to give further financial assistance to our Women ’s Bureau.

WPA - Demonstration in Defence of Their Own Rights

The Woman Voter 3 June 1915:
The women employed at our workroom were naturally greatly disturbed at the announcement in the press that the grant from the Central Unemployment Committee was to be discontinued. Several of them wrote letters of protest to the Minister for Public Works, and to the daily papers. The “Herald”published one letter.

A meeting of unemployed women was held at the Women’s Bureau, on 24th ult., when it was decided to wait on Mr Hagelthorn, and state the case to him. The officers of the WPA were invited to accompany the deputation. The minister appointed Wednesday, 12.30pm, for the interview, and on that day nearly 100 women assembled at the Bureau, and bearing a banner inscribed “Unemployed Women Demand Work - Not Charity”, marched to the Public Works Department. The procession created a sensation, as this was the first time in history that Australian women had made any sort of political demonstration in defence of their own rights.

Then the speakers, unemployed women, spoke of their situation - “Dear Sir, we are here because we want work, not charity. My father wouldn’t let me learn a trade or go in for any profession, because, he said, the home is the woman’s place, but I lost my home because the landlord doubled the rent.”

Woman Voter 3 June 1915:
Masculine Logic - Nearly 5,000 Australians have been killed or wounded at Gallipoli, fighting against the Turks. One result of their death and suffering will be to establish Russia in Constantinople. Their fathers and grandfathers used to sing “The Rooshians shan’t have Constantinople,” and England (is) still paying the bill for a war to prevent the very thing we are running up a much bigger bill to accomplish.

WPA - Cost of Living Women’s Deputation

The Woman Voter 24 June 1915:
Cost of Living Women’s Deputation to State Parliament, Thursday, July 1st at 3.30 p.m. to demand -
1. That Parliament shall Protect the People against those who Gamble in the People’s Food.
2. That Women shall be appointed to the Price of Goods Board.

Meetings to explain the objects of the Deputation will be held -
Every Tuesday - Richmond - Bridge Rd and Coppin Sts ... 8 p.m.
Every Wednesday - Carlton - Nicholson and Johnston Sts ... 8 p.m.
Every Thursday - Melbourne - 215 Latrobe St ... 8 p.m.
Every Friday - South Melbourne - Clarendon and Bank Sts ... 8 p.m.
Every Saturday Hawthorn - Opposite Town Hall ... 8 p.m.

WPA - Unemployment Deputation - Parliamentary Rebuff

The Argus 2 July 1915:
Persistent Deputation - Parliamentary Rebuff - Women Annoyed –

A demonstration in force at the State Parliament House, of members of the Women's Political Association was contemplated yesterday. About 40 women arrived in the Exhibition Gardens shortly before half past 4 o'clock in the expectation of meeting the Premier (Sir Alexander Peacock) and other members of the Legislative Assembly at the usual time of the adjournment on Thursdays ...

Though they thought that they might see Sir Alexander Peacock, he was under no obligation to meet them. They desired to ... show him certain commodities by which a comparison of the nature and price of goods of the present and pre-war times could be made. They said the situation was bearing hardly on the poorer sections of the community. This was the first of many similar demonstrations and meetings that took place regularly well into September.

"The processions grew bigger and bigger every day", Pankhurst recalled some years later. "I tried to negotiate a peaceful settlement and wrote to the Prime Minister ... If he had ... explained why the government took no action to preserve the people's food there would have been no disorder. He did nothing."  

The women were led and organised by the Women's Peace League, a group formed specifically to raise support for the campaign to reduce the high cost of living.

By August 1915 food prices were up 41%, according to the Commonwealth statistician.

WPA - Cost of Living - Members Frightened of Women?

The Woman Voter 8 July 1915:
Last week was “Deputation Week” for the WPA, no less than five being held, including a conference with the Lord Mayor’s Unemployment Committee ...

Cost of Living Deputation -
The Deputation to State Parliament, which took place on 2nd inst. struck such terror into the hearts of members that the house adjourned nearly an hour and a half earlier than usual!  Our brave legislators! They adjourned for ten days for the purpose of carrying on a recruiting campaign, urging other men to lay down their lives for their country. The suffering of the women and children from lack of food was no concern of theirs, and Mr Blackburn wrote us that he thought we were wrong in saying, as we did say to members, that, with no women representatives in Parliament, it seemed impossible to get our views before members in any other way than by going on a deputation to them ...  

The deputation asked -
1. That women should be appointed on the Prices of Goods Board.
2. That people with incomes under three £3 a week should be enabled to purchase commodities at the rates ruling before the war, and that the Government should pay the difference to the trades people.

The deputation also protested against members of Parliament shutting up the House and going off recruiting, while the mothers and the children of the community were left to starve.

WPA - Deputation to Minister of Defence

The Woman Voter
8 July 1915:
 Miss Vida Goldstein, Mrs Singleton, Mrs Hammond, Misses John and Adela Pankhurst, represented the WPA at a deputation to the Minister of Defence on 2nd inst., to ask for the appointment of women as military police. 

WPA - To Form a Women’s Peace Army

Woman Voter 15 July 1915:
A large and enthusiastic meeting was held at the WPA rooms on 8th inst., Miss Vida Goldstein presiding, to form a Women’s Peace Army. Miss Goldstein said that the time had come to solidify the forces of women in Australia who opposed war, all wars, past, present and future.

Recognising that those who supported party politics might not feel themselves able to join the WPA, it was considered wise to enlarge our borders by forming a Women’s Peace Army, to which all sections of people could belong. Although making its direct appeal to women as the mothers of the race, membership would not be confined to women.

The Peace Army would be a fighting body, and would fight for the destruction of militarism with the same spirit of self-sacrifice as soldiers showed on the battlefield ...

It was decided to meet again on 12th inst., and some 80 “peace soldiers” enlisted at the close of the meeting.

Australian War Memorial OL 00296.002

Vida Goldstein - 'It is easier to overcome the anti-suffrage forces, ignorance, tradition, and prejudice in a young unfettered country' 1911 London

Report of the Australian Women’s Peace Army

Woman Voter 31 June 1917:
The first report of the Women’s Peace Army, which was formed on July 8, 1915, must go back to the inception in 1903 of the Women’s Political Association of Victoria, which established the Peace Army, and inaugurated the Australian women’s fight against militarism, for the WPA has always opposed war.

This opposition to war, which is a fundamental principle of the Woman Movement, was lifted out of the domain of academics by Miss Goldstein in 1913, and made a strong fighting plank of her platform when she was a candidate for Kooyong, and demanded -

1. That the Commonwealth Parliament should pledge itself to International Peace and Arbitration, and lose no opportunity of striving for the abolition of war as a means of settling international disputes;
2. Abolition of compulsory military training for boys ...

From 1913 the WPA became not only anti-Conscriptionist ... but anti-Militarist. An article on “Boy Conscription in Australia” written at that time by Miss John in the “Woman Voter”, called forth much adverse criticism from some members of the WPA, who could not believe that Militarism would ever raise its hydra head amid the healthy democracy of Australia. A year later war broke out, on August 4, 1914, and the WPA immediately declared war against war ...

Woman Voter 21 June 1917
The WPA continued its anti-Militarist propaganda (which it soon found was on the same lines as those followed by the anti-militarists in every country) until July, 1915, when it decided the time had come to solidify the forces of women in Australia who were opposed to war, but could not support the non-party political policy of the WPA.

At a meeting held by the WPA on July 8, 1915, the following resolutions were passed unanimously:

- That as modern wars are mainly due to a desire on the part of interested people to secure profitable investments for capital, this Association urges such industrial organisation of men and women as will give to the producers an equitable share in the wealth they create, so that, as the conditions of life for the masses of the people improve, enormous aggregations of capital seeking investments will no longer be possible.

- That this Association, believing that war is a crime against civilisation and humanity, and that it places the interests of property before those of human beings, that it brings personal degradation to vast masses of soldiers and women, and greater suffering and horrors to non-combatants than to combatants, resolves to invite members and sympathisers to unite in an Australian Women’s Peace Army, which shall pledge itself to fight for the preservation of human life, and for peace between all nations now and always.

The newly formed Women’s Peace Party met immediately, and adopted as a basis of constructive peace the resolutions passed by the International Congress of Women held at The Hague the previous April, with, of course, the addition for Australia of the WPA plank, “The Abolition of Compulsory Military Training and Militarism”.

WPA - International Congress of Women - The Hague

Woman Voter 15 July 1915:
The Hague, April 28, 29, 30, 1915, Holland

I. Women and War
1. Protest - We women, in International Congress assembled, protest against the madness and the horror of war, involving as it does a reckless sacrifice of human life and the destruction of so much that humanity has laboured through centuries to build up.
2. Women’s Sufferings in War - This International Congress of Women opposes the assumption that women can be protected under the conditions of modern warfare. It protests vehemently against the odious wrongs of which women are victims in time of war, and especially against the horrible violation of women which attends all war.

II. Action Towards Peace
3. The Peace Settlement - This International Congress of Women of different nations, classes, creeds and parties is united in expressing sympathy with the suffering of all, whatever their nationality, who are fighting for their country or labouring under the burden of war. Since the mass of the people in each of the countries now at war believe themselves to be fighting, not as aggressors, but in self-defence, and for their national existence, there can be no irreconcilable difference between them, and their common ideals afford a basis upon which a magnanimous and honourable Peace might be established.

The Congress, therefore, urges the Government of the world to put an end to this bloodshed, and to begin Peace negotiations. It demands that the peace which follows shall be permanent, and therefore based on principles of justice, including those laid down in the resolutions adopted by this Congress, namely -

- That no territory should be transferred without the consent of the men and women in it, and that the right of conquest should not be recognized.
- That autonomy and a democratic Parliament should not be refused to any people.
- That the Governments of all nations should come to an agreement to refer future international disputes to arbitration or conciliation, and to bring social, moral and economic pressure to bear upon any country which resorts to arms.
- That foreign politics should be subject to democratic control.
- That women should be granted equal political rights with men.
continued http://www.ub.gu.se/kvinn/portaler/fred/samarbete/pdf/resolutions_1915.pdf

WPA - Foodless Children - Mothers Fight for Them

Woman Voter 22 July 1915:
Foodless Children - Mothers Fight for Them - Two women at Broken Hill have been arrested for tarring and feathering the president of the Hotel, Club and Restaurant Employees’ Union, who is said to be mainly responsible for certain members of the union being refused employment. The women said they had been out of work for several weeks through the action of the union, and their children were in need of food.

WPA - The Number of Necessitous Women

Woman Voter 26 August 1915:
The number of necessitous women on our books grows daily, and those who are working here are very inadequately helped. We see them growing thinner and shabbier every day, and it is of the greatest moment that the well-to-do should assist us in our work.

We hear complaints by women that the Government is slow to utilise their services for the prosecution of the war, and to them we say: "The most valuable munitions of war are men who bear arms and the mothers who bear children. Every hour sees the birth of potential men and women, under conditions which make it impossible for them to live to maturity. Surely it is women's duty to provide for these future citizens. Instead of knitting and sewing for the soldiers, let the Government provide all that is necessary for the troops, paying fair wages for the work - and pay your income tax without complaint. Surely you will forego luxury, that others may have men and women worthy of your race in the future.

Do not make shirts and socks at home or in the trams and trains, but pay for them to be done by those who need the work. Six hundred mothers here are starving for what you will not give. Is this your patriotism - that you will see your own fellow women, of your own blood, starve? If you want to sew, make us a maternity set, which will clothe a naked baby, and a suffering woman to whose mother's agony is added cold, hunger and despair. Help the women and children of Australia who are the backbone of the British race. Women, your country needs you.

Stop knitting and send in your orders for socks at once. God save Australia's people.

WPA - The Women’s Peace Army Requests the Prime Minister

Woman Voter 9 September 1915:
The Women’s Peace Army held a very large and inspiring meeting in the Athenaeum Hall on 30th ult. ... Miss Vida Goldstein, who presided, said that this was the first meeting held under the auspices of the newly constituted Women’s Peace Army ...

From the commencement of the war the WPA had declared war against war, and a few weeks later found they were one with the progressive women of every country.

Miss Goldstein then gave an outline of the peace movement in other countries, which had culminated in the holding of the International Women’s Peace Congress at the Hague, and called upon those present to join the Women’s Peace Army. They must stand united in the cause of free speech, a free press, and the rights of conscience - those great bulwarks of liberty - which they would not allow to be filched from them in this time of panic.

Mrs Katz moved the following resolution, which was similar to that passed at the Hague Congress -

This Women’s Peace Army, composed of different classes, creeds and parties, is united in expressing sympathy with the suffering of all, whatever their nationality, who are fighting for their country or labouring under the burden of war. Since the mass of people in each of the countries now at war believe themselves to be fighting, not as aggressors, but in self-defence and for their national existence, there can be no irreconcilable differences between them, and their common ideals afford a basis upon which a magnanimous and honourable peace might be established.

The Women’s Peace Army therefore urges the Governments of the world to put an end to this bloodshed, and to begin peace negotiations. It demands that the peace which follows shall be permanent and therefore based on principles of justice, including those laid down in the resolutions adopted by the International Congress of Women. 

Woman Voter 23 September 1915:
An Indian, Siva Singh, has been struck off the voters roll for (being?) Indii. He appealed, but the magistrate dismissed the application with two guineas costs against Singh. If Indians are our "brothers" when it comes to a question of helping us kill our "enemies", they must also be regarded as our brothers in Australian citizenship.

Woman Voter 21 October 1915:
Traffic in Women - Disappearance of a young girl. Jessie Stirling, of 19 Fitzroy St. Footscray, has been missing from her home since 12th October. The circumstances of her disappearance point unmistakably to the White Slave Traffic, and it is important that a definite warning be given to girls seeking work.

WPA - Tabloid Philosophy - Patriotism

Woman Voter 28 October 1915:
A patriotism that seeks to banish capitalism and poverty from its land is doing more real service than the jingoistic, navy building, army raising, flag waving kind.

- Saying untrue things about an enemy, and misrepresenting his good points, is not Patriotism, it is only Prejudice. Don’t lose your temper and call it Patriotism.
- God Save the People is true patriotic sentiment, for it includes the King.
- A patriotism that would conscript men and not wealth is patriotism with a question mark. Watch it.
- Patriotism is love of my country. Internationalism is love of God’s world: it is patriotism with the fences down, that’s all!
War: The Armament Trust is the real God of War. The Capitalistic Press is His High Priest. The Workers of All Nations are His Victims.

WPA - Venereal Disease

Woman Voter 28 October 1915:
Presiding at the meeting of the Women’s Peace Army, on 11th inst., Miss Goldstein spoke of the ravages of venereal disease amongst the soldiers, and quoted the remark of the member of the West Australian Government who had said “Cairo would do more harm to Australia than the Turks at Gallipoli”.

Miss Goldstein spoke of what the women of West Australia had done in protest against the attempt being made by the State Government to meet the dangers of venereal disease with compulsory measures that were bound to defeat their object, and were the greatest insult and menace to women. She referred to the value of the night clinics established by the NSW Government, which some 25,000 patients had attended since March of this year, with an average of 50 new patients weekly.

Miss Goldstein urged the women of Victoria to be on guard against the introduction of compulsory measures in this State.

WPA - I Didn’t Raise My Son to be a Soldier

Woman Voter,
25 November 1915:
Once, when a mother / Was asked would she send
Her darling boy to fight
/She just answered “No”!

I didn’t raise my son to be a soldier /
I brought him up to be my pride and joy, /
Who dares to put a musket on his shoulder /
To kill some other mother’s darling boy? /
The nations ought to arbitrate their quarrels /
It’s time to put the sword and gun away /
There’d be no war today, / If mothers all would say …
I didn’t raise my son to be a soldier

All men are brothers, / Our Country, the world,
Glories of War are a lie: / If they ask us why,
We can tell them that mother’s reply, /

WPA - Peace Mandate from the People

Woman Voter
9 December 1915:
At a meeting of the Women's Peace Army, held on the 2nd instant, Miss Vida Goldstein presiding, the following resolutions were passed unanimously -

1. That the Women's Peace Army asks the Commonwealth Parliament be summoned immediately, to consider the Prime Minister's mission to England, and to give him a peace mandate from the people of Australia.

2. That in the opinion of the Women's Peace Army the method by which it proposed to raise a new army of 50,000 men is nothing short of conscription for military service abroad, and we are prepared to support those who in their love of humanity and freedom desire to resist this shameful violation of the rights of mankind.

3. As it is reported in the newspapers that though the enemy Governments are prepared to offer terms of peace, our own Government is refusing to consider them, we women, citizens of Australia, believing that war is opposed to every principle of humanity and Christianity, urge the men who asked to enlist on our account to ask in return how the women and children are to be protected from the enemies in our midst, who, under the guise of patriotism, raise the price of food and refuse to increase wages, so that families starve and mothers and children are driven into ill-paid industries, while these so-called patriots make enormous profits out of the misery of their fellow-citizens.

WPA - Remember Our Bureau at Christmas Time

Woman Voter
9 December 1915:
Last week the urgent need for clothing amongst unemployed women was forced upon our attention, and we ask our friends to remember our Bureau at Christmas time. If they would send us a few yards of calico and other cotton materials suitable for summer wear, they would be giving the woman a Christmas box that would be the greatest boom. Or send us money, so that we may purchase the material.

WPA - Women Will Continue to Sing It

Woman Voter
23 December 1915:
We have been forbidden by the military authorities to sing or make use of the song “I didn’t raise my son to be a soldier.” Needless to say, the women will still continue to sing it, if they feel so inclined.

Megan McMurchy, Margot Oliver, Jeni Thornley, For Love or Money, a pictorial history of Australia, Penguin 1983