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 90 to 115 Women Opposing WW1 PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE


WPA - Soldiers Attack Mr Katz and an Unknown Woman

Woman Voter
6 January 1916:
A deplorable outrage was committed by returned soldiers and members of the Expeditionary Force upon Mr Katz, the secretary of the Clerk’s Union. Upwards of 50 soldiers and members entered his office and, finding him defenceless, held him while hot tar was poured over his head and feathers spattered over him. The soldiers then kicked him down the stairs ... A certain spite was felt against Mr Katz for his foreign sounding name, and this has been accentuated by press hints.

WPA - Who Loses the War?

Woman Voter
20 January 1916:

The men who lose their lives.
The women who lose their husbands, brothers and sons.
The children who lose their fathers.
The workers who lose their wages, who have to pay high rents and high prices.
The fathers who love their boys.
The mothers who have to go out and work too soon before and too soon after the boy’s birth.
The child who goes to work instead of to school.
The babies who die from want and lack of mother's care, sacrificed to feed the fires of war.
The young girls who can never be wives and mothers.
The soldiers' widows and orphans who will starve on their pensions.
The nation which is robbed of its young men and unborn children.
All those who have brains to think and hearts to love humanity.
All these different classes of people who want the war to stop at once.
Are you one?

WPA - The War and the Rights of Citizens

Woman Voter
20 January 1916:
The Government made war without consulting the people, and the people were not responsible, therefore, for the outbreak of hostilities. But, in continuing the war, we do become responsible for every drop of blood that was shed. We are responsible, also, to the future people for the conditions of the country we must leave to them.

A debt of hundreds of millions is accumulating while our most capable producers, the young and active men, are being slaughtered on the field of battle. We have just witnessed a horrible, bloody bungle in the Dardanelles, and still the Government declines to outline the terms upon which Peace can be negotiated, or in what fields they will be pleased to have our manhood slain. Yet there still are people who call the peace advocates unpatriotic!

Surely it would be a crime to be silent while such a fearful outrage against humanity as this war continues.
It is hard indeed for the voice of reason to be heard. The great corrupt press is closed to us, our halls are shut against us, and street meetings are broken up by gangs of roughs in uniform and out. We have tried our best to warn the people of the evils which were bound to come upon them, but we have failed to rouse them sufficiently to avert them. It is poor comfort to be able to say “We told you so”, when poverty, disease, military rule and contract labour are actually with us.

Our only hope is that, once a full knowledge of the evils breaks upon the people, they will resist them and clear the way for a happier state of things. It is a sorrowful thing that so many innocent must suffer for the sins and the follies of others, and for the sake of the children growing up, we must not relax our efforts, however hard we may be pressed.

WPA - Prime Minister Mr Hughes’ Incites to Murder

Woman Voter
27 January 1916:
Mr Hughes has left his unfortunate country to drag on as best it can until he returns in May. Yet, according to him, who, like leeches, are sucking at its vital parts, these persons - those who do not like the war - conscription, commercial exploitation, militarism - in any form - must be fallen upon with the “ferocity of a Bengal tiger”.

Such expressions from the Prime Minister are nothing short of incitements to murder. If the larrikins go so far as to kick someone to death, Mr Hughes will be responsible. It is very serious, too, to see leading articles in the “Argus” which are directly aimed at stirring up mob violence.

On 19th January the following passage occurred in the leading article -
“What comradeship can, in the days to come, exist between the unionists whose letters from the front have reiterated the pathetic cry, “Come and help us”, and the unionists who have done all they openly dared to discourage the enlistment of unionists? ... how, in short, shall the type of unionist which tarred and feathered Katz, ever associate in the pursuance of any cause with the type of unionist which first followed and afterwards condoled with Katz instead of rescinding his resolution?”

This is distinctly in support of the action of the ruffians who, 50 to 1, attacked Mr Katz, who never spoke against enlistment at all, but merely against the undemocratic constitution of the recruiting committees, as the “Argus” knows perfectly well - an unmistakable incitement to hooligans to make further murderous assaults upon persons whose views differ from those of the “Argus”.

WPA - This Meeting Condemns Action Defence Authorities

Woman Voter 27
January 1916:
Women’s Peace Army - This meeting condemns the action of the Government in permitting the soldiers to use violence in order to break up the public meetings of those who use their citizen’s right of free speech to advocate peace at this juncture.

The meeting of the Women’s Peace Army tenders its sympathy to those persons bearing foreign names whose property has been destroyed in the recent disgraceful riots, and condemns the action of the authorities in permitting such lawless conduct, and, further registers its conviction that the press, by fanning the fires of racial hatred, is largely responsible for what has occurred. The meeting condemns the action of the defence authorities in suppressing an anti-conscription leaflet published by the “No Conscription Fellowship” titled “Do You Believe in German Rule” as an interference with the liberty of citizens of Australia.

WPA - Women’s Political Association and the Prime Minister

Woman Voter
3 February 1916:
The Women’s Political Association has strongly disapproved of the Government of this country being usurped by the Cabinet, and when the Prime Minister accepted the invitation of the Imperial Government to visit England for the purpose of attending an Imperial Conference, the WPA immediately protested, and urged that Parliament be summoned to give Mr Hughes his instructions regarding peace and other subjects likely to be discussed in the Conference.

Members of Parliament seemed paralysed, and did nothing on the matter; Labour organisations did nothing. When the Federal Labour Executive conference met in Melbourne, early in January, the following letter was sent by the Peace Army -

“The Secretary, Federal Labour Executive Conference,
Trades Hall, Melbourne, 4th January 1916
Dear Sir,
We desire to ask you if the Conference to be held this week will demand that the Federal Parliament shall be summoned immediately to give the Prime Minister the terms that progressive Australians consider should form the basis of a constructive and permanent peace. It seems incredible that the Prime Minister should be allowed to pledge Australia in regard to peace terms and future military commitments without any mandate from Parliament and the people.

As citizens we are not prepared to acquiesce in the silent departure of the Prime Minister for the purpose of giving further support to the evil system of Cabinet Ministers making secret decisions involving the lives of Australian men, the economic and moral status of Australian women and children, and the social conditions of the whole people.

We endorse the Peace terms of the International Congress of Women, which have been adopted by the Women’s Peace Army - Yours faithfully, Vida Goldstein, President.”

Two days later the following letter was also sent -

A. Stewart, Esq., Secretary, Australian Political Labour Executive,
Trades Hall, Melbourne
Dear Mr Stewart, While we are sure you must have a long agenda paper for your conference, we desire further to ask if the conference will make representation to the Federal Government and to Parliament, if it assembles, insisting on the strict maintenance of the rights of conscience and of Free Speech and of a Free Press.

The Labour Party in the past has had to suffer persecution and imprisonment to secure its rights, and through their agency has won its way to its present position. These rights are now being filched from the people at the instance of men occupying subordinate positions in Government Departments, who are rabidly opposed to any alteration in the existing system of society. Men are being prosecuted, fined or imprisoned on newspaper reports which have not been written up from verbatim reports taken in shorthand, but from a few scattered notes in longhand from an irresponsible reporter.

The Labour Party knows well what it is to suffer at the hands of the Press, and that the Press is now being freely made use of for the purpose of preventing Free Speech is indeed a serious matter.

Yours faithfully,
Vida Goldstein, President”

The following reply was received -

Australian Federal Labour Executive Head Office
Room 10, Town Hall, Melbourne
10 January 1916

Miss Vida Goldstein, Secretary,
Women’s Political Association, 313 Latrobe Street Melbourne
Dear Miss Goldstein,
Your letters of January 4th and 6th were read before the Federal Executive, but as the Federal Executive was called together for most important and specific work, consideration could not be given in the matter referred to in your letter - Fraternally yours, Arch Stewart, Secretary

The unsatisfactory nature of this reply is plain to every true democrat. The Peace Army then waited to see to what length the Labour Party would go in the way of supineness and inaction. Unfortunately, it went the whole way, and Mr Hughes was allowed to sail off as the self-crowned Czar of Australia.

The Peace Army forwarded the following to the Prime Minister -

Women’s Political Association, 26th January 1916
The Honourable the Prime Minister of Australia,
Commonwealth Offices, London
Dear Sir,
We sent you herewith a copy of the terms which, in the opinion of the International Congress of Women, held at the Hague April-May ’15, and of the Women’s Political Association of Australia, should form the basis of a constructive and permanent peace. It has seemed incredible to us that our elected representatives in the Commonwealth Parliament should have so far failed in their duty to the people as to permit you to leave Australia without any instructions as to the desires of the people in regard to peace, and to the entire naval and military obligations of the Commonwealth towards the Imperial Government.

With all courtesy and respect we consider it our plain duty to tell you that we, speaking for the great majority of the true democracts of our country, as we know from public meetings, the democratic press, and correspondence, disassociate ourselves entirely from the cruel, relentless, undemocratic, anti-Christian policy of militarism, which are synonymous terms, to which Australia is being committed by the Government, the press and the financiers of the country. We ask you, Sir, although you will disagree wholly with our view point, to place it and our Peace Terms before the Imperial Conference, as representing, if not the majority, at least a very large minority of the people of Australia.

Yours faithfully, Vida Goldstein, President Cecilia John, Secretary Adela Pankhurst, Organiser

Had Miss Goldstein been a member of the Commonwealth Parliament she certainly would have roused the democrats of Australia to the necessity of safeguarding our county from the evils of Czardom.
Woman Voter 10 February 1916:
The exploitation of the food supply of the people goes unchecked. We are not one whit better off under Labour Govts than under Conservative or Liberal Govts, which only goes to prove that the people are asleep.

WPA - The Little Nations

Woman Voter
17 February 1916:
The tragic abandonment of Servia to her fate and the continued protests by Greece against the pressure being brought to bear on her to compel her to abandon her neutrality, dispose for ever of the fiction that this war is being waged on behalf of the rights of the little nations.

WPA - War Profits, Food Prices and Recruiting

Woman Voter
17 February 1916:
Many months ago we declared that the people who should be assailed for “prejudiced recruiting” were not the peace propagandists, but those whose patriotism took the form of charging fancy war prices for the necessaries of life, and made excessive war profits out of the starvation of women and children.

We urged upon the Government, without avail, the necessity for fixing prices, so to protect the needy and helpless.

Now the “Age” is attempting to show the connection between high prices and low recruiting figures. It is suggested that the Federal Government is extremely nervous about protecting the people in this way, but it has invited the Interstate Commission to investigate and report on war profits. We hope the Commonwealth will complete its task before winter comes.

WPA - Women are Not Breeding Machines

Woman Voter
24 February 1916:
Dr Mannix is much concerned at the decline at the birth-rate, and charges the medical profession generally with malpractice. This charge, whether it be true or false, we leave to the doctors to answer; but one thing we know, and that is women are not going to be made breeding machines for the god of war. War – red and bloody war – will not have the toll so much desired by it, for women will increasingly refuse to give life that men may take it. The prostitution of the brain of man in making all science but a means of dealing death in more horrible forms will not be followed by the prostitution of women in giving life to a child that it may grow to manhood but to murder his fellow man.

WPA - The Children’s Peace Army

Woman Voter
24 February 1916:
The Children’s Peace Army will not meet on Saturday next. On Saturday, March 4, the children will meet as usual, and will commence rehearsing a play “The Children’s Paradise”.

WPA - Almost Without Bread

Woman Voter
24 February 1916:
Surrounded by plenty, women and their children are almost without bread, and in a rich and a spacious land hundreds of families are herded in abject poverty, crowded into dwellings wherein it is impossible that the barest decency can prevail. The story of this Australian tragedy is best told by the hard facts revealed by the family budgets which have been collected by the Women’s Labour Bureau. A selection of typical cases of semi-starvation follows – Mrs A. Husband dead; children three – 15, 10 and 4 years (N.B. little girl is a cripple) Earnings: (less than) Son (occasionally) mother at Labour Bureau. Mrs A. has no money for clothes, nor for meat, nor butter, nor milk. Her little boy gathers wood for cooking.

WPA - Peace Proposals
Woman Voter 24 February 1916:
Manifesto Issued by the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace
Headquarters, Theresiastraat 51, The Hague.
There is a great demand that this terrible war shall be followed by a lasting peace. This is the desire not only of the citizens of the belligerent Powers, but also of all neutrals; for they have all suffered by the war, which has thus given grim proof of the solidarity of the interests of mankind. If we wish for a lasting peace, we must endeavour to remove the causes which led to the war. How was this world-catastrophe possible?

There may be disputes as to some of the deeper causes, as to the connection of war with the structure of our social system, the part played by conflicts of nationality, the immediate occasions of the present conflict, the distribution of personal responsibility. But there can be no doubt as to certain general causes ...
see Appendix 8 for full text

WPA - Conscription by Proclamation

Woman Voter
2 March 1916:
Last week Sir Irvine stated that conscription for service abroad could be instituted by proclamation without the formality of the passage of a Bill through Parliament. No denial of this statement has come from the Federal Government, neither has the Acting Prime Minister made any statement reassuring the people that the few remaining remnants of representative Government and popular rights shall not be taken away from them before a last stand has been made by Democracy in the House of Representatives.

The Age Sunday March 4 1916:
Then Who Should Fight & Pay For It? Come and find out on the YARRA BANK, Sun March 26 at 3pm Chairman: Miss Vida Goldstein Speakers: Miss Adela Pankhurst, Miss Mary Grant. If you want to understand about the War read: “Put Up the Sword.” (Adela Pankhurst) All booksellers or 215 Latrobe St Price 2/6

WPA - Collect for Unemployed Women - Ten Pounds Sixteen

Woman Voter
9 March 1916:
Collect in the streets for Belgium and eight thousand, eight hundred pounds is the result; collect for unemployed women - ten pounds sixteen.
Pat Gowland, The Women’s Peace Army cited in Women, Class and History, Fontana/Collins ed. Elizabeth Windschuttle p.226

WPA - Justice Blind in One Eye

Woman Voter
16 March 1916:
“Something must be done with these drunken women”, said Mr Bros at Clerkenwell the other day. “Here I have nineteen charges, and nine are women”. We do not, of course, wish to defend intemperance, but we should like to point out to Mr Bros that out of his nineteen charges of drunkenness ten of them were men. Does he not think something should be done with all these drunken men?

WPA - Women's Farm - State Assistance Sought

16 March 1916:
Women's Farm - State Assistance Sought
Carrying with them a large quantity of vegetables, including a massive pumpkin, Miss Vida Goldstein, Miss Cecilia John, and Mrs. Larcher, representing the Women's Rural Industries Company Ltd, waited on the Minister for Lands (Mr. Hutchinson) yesterday, and urged that the State should assist in the development of the company's farm at Mordialloc.

The produce displayed was grown on the farm, where women in need of employment are trained in agricultural and gardening pursuits. The farm is rented from the Closer Settlement Board, and the deputation urged that the land should be given to the company as a free gift, together with a grant of £300 to carry on operations. Mr. Hutchinson explained that the land had been repurchased by the Crown, and he would be unable to consider the question of making a free gift. He promised to give consideration to the request for a grant, and ascertain whether it would be possible to assist the development of the farm.

WPA - Letter from a Prisoner of War

Woman Voter
16 March 1916:
Mrs. Editor, As a Belgian soldier prisoner of war I am taking the liberty to send you a little request. I was collecting postage stamps in Belgium, and my son, too. Having much time to spend here in the camp, I would like to make again a “collection”, and I should be really happy if you would be so kind as to publish the fact that I will send a keepsake in exchange for some nice postage stamps for collection, sent registered to F. Baudson, 12th Belgian Regiment, Camp 11, Zeist, Holland. (We are sure some of our readers will gladly respond ...)

WPA - Yarra Bank Meeting

Woman Voter
30 March 1916:
A densely-attended meeting was held under the auspices of the Women’s Peace Army on the Yarra Bank on the 26th inst. Miss Vida Goldstein said that the soldiers were led to suppose that the Women’s Peace Army were out to oppose the soldiers and dishonour them. The fact was that the Peace Army was composed of women who had always opposed war, but who honoured the soldiers for carrying out what they conceived to be their highest duty to their country. The fact was that the Peace Army was composed of women who had always opposed war, but who honoured the soldiers for carrying out what they conceived to be their highest duty to their country.

It was said that the Peace Army wanted “peace at any price”. That was untrue; they wanted peace at a very high price - on terms that were definite and constructive. Because the press would not let the public know what those terms were, they would be set before the meeting, in the form of a resolution, on which they could express their opinion. In the interests of fair play, the soldiers present would be given an opportunity, if they did not agree with the resolution, of speaking at a later stage.

About 100 soldiers had gathered around the improvised platform, and they manifested the same ugly spirit as at the Bijou Theatre. They had come to the meeting resolved to “take it out of” the women in revenge for the statement reported in the press last week, that a speaker at the previous Sunday’s meeting had called the soldiers “murderers”.       

“You called us ‘murderers and assassins’, and we won’t let you speak”, shouted a soldier waving a Union Jack, who turned out to be an Englishman, a Corporal Hogg.
“We did nothing of the kind”, replied Miss Goldstein.
“You did and you won’t be allowed to speak”.
“What would you think of us if we condemned all the soldiers because of a few black sheep among you? Yet you condemn us because, possibly, someone in the crowd made the statement you complain of. Do you call that fair play?”
“We don’t want fair play; we want a fight”, shouted another soldier.
“We don’t trust you”, replied Hogg: and Clemence, who led the disturbance at the Bijou, mounted a barrel, and said “I’ll speak now”.

Hogg then jumped on the platform, and stood in front of Miss Goldstein, and used the vilest language towards her and Miss Pankhurst.

Clemence said “If anyone here would do to these women what the Germans did to the women in Belgium, I’d stand by and watch them do it with pleasure”.

The soldiers cheered. Not one of them, so anxious about protecting the women of Belgium, made the slightest effort to protect the women of their own country from insult. Instead, they tried to push Miss Goldstein off the platform and to pull away the planks on which she stood. But each time they surged forward Miss Goldstein faced them calmly and fearlessly, and they moved back.

Mr F Riley stood behind Miss Goldstein to protect her, and one of the soldiers behind him said “Let’s get this - mongrel out of the way, then we’ll get her”. Another then struck him violently on the head, a blow which was the signal for some thirty men to fasten on to Mr Riley and drag him away from the platform towards the river. Mr Riley hit out vigorously in self-defence and he was arrested for criminal behaviour! Clemence and Hogg called upon the crowd to throw him into the river.

Miss Goldstein then put the resolution to the meeting, which was incensed at the conduct of the soldiers, but fearful of being involved. The resolution was carried, (Appendix 9) and Miss Goldstein declared the meeting closed. She, Miss John and Miss Pankhurst and a number of sympathisers then went to the police station to bail Mr Riley out. His face had been badly bruised and clawed. Arrangements were made for his defence on the 27th inst.

Recently peace meetings have been undisturbed, and the hooliganism again displayed on Sunday was in direct response to the incitements of the press, contained in the false reports of the meeting of the Anti-Conscription Fellowship. Things have come to a sad state indeed, when the police make no effort to maintain law and order, but allow soldiers to create a disturbance, use vile language to women, and incite to the violation of women, without arresting them.

Police Court Proceedings - On Monday morning Mr Riley was brought before the City Court ... Mr Dwyer turned Mr Riley into a cheap notoriety hunter, and ordered a fine of £2 or 14 days imprisonment. Mr Riley refused to pay the fine, on principle, but the officers of the Women’s Peace Army, whom he had so courageously defended, would not allow him to suffer further on their account, and they paid the fine ...

The press and the Chief Secretary, as usual, blame the peace advocates for the sins of the soldiers, and thus are guilty of inciting to khaki mob rule.

WPA - Who Profits by the War? Mining

Woman Voter
30 March 1916:
Who Profits by the War? - North Broken Hill (mining) Ltd. The report and balance sheet is commented on in the “Argus” of 9th inst. - profit of £196,059 with £99,816 the previous half-year.

WPA - The Social Evil Women’s Convention

Woman Voter
20 April 1916
Dear Friend, The State Government proposes to introduce a Health Bill which is expected to contain provisions for the State Regulation of Vice, by means of compulsory examination and detention of prostitutes etc. As this is a matter vitally affecting the public morality of Australia, we are calling a Convention to discuss the question in all its bearings. Some men and women favour State Regulation on the ground that though the civil rights of women are thereby abrogated, and a traffic in human bodies is legalised, this sacrifice is required for the sake of the Empire. This view is generally taken only by women who are removed by their comfortable circumstances from any danger of coming under the regulations for providing safe immorality for young men, and by men whose daughters are protected from danger.

WPA - Distress Amongst Unemployed Women

Woman Voter
27 April 1916:
Unemployment Distress - Distress amongst unemployed women is growing more and more acute. One by one the possessions they have are finding their way to the pawnbroker. In many homes there is such a scarcity of crockery that each member of the family has to wait his turn for food until the other has finished with the one plate or cup that the “home” boasts of. And we call ours a civilised community!

We can vouch for the sterling worth of the people to whom we refer. Their poverty is not due to drink, or vice, or thriftlessness, but to sheer misfortune, to inability to sell their labour. We have no hesitation in saying that it is a scandalous condition of affairs that people able and willing to sell their labour should find no buyers, and yet their labour is the only thing that can bring them bread. We urge our readers once again to contribute regularly to our Unemployment Fund. We shall be glad to supply weekly collecting cards, so that the pence that make the pounds may be collected from those with small purses. There are not many of our friends who cannot spare one penny per week to help women in such distress as we have described.

WPA - Women’s National League

Woman Voter 11
May 1916:
The Women’s National League intends to present a women’s petition to Parliament, in favour of conscription. The petition is being signed by girls also - girls of 14 and 15. This action will be misunderstood in other countries, where it will be said that the women of Australia favour conscription. We wish, therefore, to inform the women’s organisations in far-away countries that the Women’s National League was formed by women who opposed the enfranchisement of women, that it represents the most conservative and rabidly Imperialistic women in Victoria, that never at any time has it attempted to protect or advance the interests of women - not even in connection with such a question as raising the age of consent.

WPA - The Church and Social Questions

The Woman Voter
15 June 1916:  
Reverend T E Ruth says “the social question is the supreme characteristic of the 20th Century ...” We are glad to find Mr Ruth ranging himself on the side of those who are demanding a reconstructed society as the aim of Christianity, but it is extraordinary that Mr Ruth should urge that the eternal facts of Christianity should be brought to bear upon the present conditions, and yet be ardent supporter of the war. Does war fit in with “the eternal facts of Christianity?

WPA - Mr Hughes Quite Unfitted

Woman Voter
13 July 1916:
It is announced that Mr Hughes is to return to England when peace terms are discussed. We trust that Mr Hughes will not be sent to England for this purpose. His recent visit has disclosed the fact that he does not understand how wars are made, and therefore cannot understand how peace can be made. A man who thinks and speaks only in terms of hate of the “enemy”, and strives with all his might and main to perpetuate commercial war against Germany is quite unfitted to have any say in peace terms.

WPA - Women of the Belligerent Countries

Woman Voter
27 July 1916:
At the meeting of the Women’s Peace Army held on the 20th inst., Miss Goldstein presiding, the following resolution was passed unanimously -

“That the Australian Women’s Peace Army protests also against the imprisonment of the lad, Thomas, an Anti-Conscriptionist, on a charge of non-compliance with the Printers’ Act, and draws attention to the fact that other people break this law with impunity.”

In common with the Women’s Suffrage Union of France, which held its annual Congress in Paris on April 20, the women of the belligerent countries are petitioning their respective Governments in the terms of the following resolution -

“That the women of the belligerent countries who have suffered so much by the war and who, through long years will bear the consequences of it, petition their respective Governments that they should take part in the diplomatic conferences which will take place with a view to the re-establishment of peace, and that they should be represented by one or two women. They demand it as much in reparation of the past, which has kept them in subordination, as a pledge of freedom in the future. Above all, they demand it to prevent the return of such conflagrations.”

The Women’s Peace Army is taking steps to get a petition on these lines presented to the Commonwealth Government as soon as Parliament re-opens on August 30.

WPA - The State Government Compels Women to Accept Charity

Woman Voter
17 August 1916:
WPA Women’s Labour Bureau - The State Government persists in its determination to compel women who are asking for work to accept charity. It simply cannot understand the situation ... They want work - it may be for only two days a week, perhaps even for one day, but it is not charity or compassion they are asking for.

Woman Voter
7 September 1916:
The Women’s Farm will be open to visitors on Saturday afternoon until further notice. Take train to Mordialloc; walk one and a quarter miles to Closer Settlement. Cab fare 2/-. Flowers and eggs direct from the farm may be purchased at 215 Latrobe Street.

WPA - So Mr Hughes Hopes

Woman Voter
7 September 1916:
After keeping the public in suspense for 10 days, Mr Hughes has at last said the word “Conscription is to Come”. Or at least so Mr Hughes hopes. But perhaps his confidence is not so great as many people suppose.

WPA - Strenuously Opposing Conscription

Woman Voter
14 September 1916:
The Woman’s Peace Army is strenuously opposing conscription. Members are busy with the Peace Negotiations Memorial, and many other useful activities. Public meetings are being held, and a women’s anti-conscription demonstration will be held on Yarra Bank on 17th inst. Those willing to act as stewards for these meetings are asked to send their names to Miss John. Workers are asked to assemble each day at the offices, which are open from 11.30am to 6pm.

WPA - Manifesto Australia’s Women’s Peace Army

The Woman Voter
5 October, 1916:
Special Appeal by Women to Women -
Manifesto Australia’s Women’s Peace Army - Conscription VOTE NO.

WPA - Women’s Peace Army Leaflets

Woman Voter
14 September 1916:

No. 1
- No Conscription - If Parliament watches the interests of the people properly, Conscription can never be made law. The Proclamation calling up the men under the Defence Act, in order to train them for service abroad, can be disallowed by the Parliament, for the power to apply the Defence Act in that way exists only when here is danger of an invasion or an armed attack upon the Commonwealth.

No. 2
- Conscription and Women - All true women should oppose conscription because conscription makes wars. Everybody knows that all Governments in so-called civilised nations are under control of the great commercial and capitalistic interests. To further trade and investment, secret treaties and alliances are made which ultimately bring the nations into conflicts which end in war. Nearly every child under eight years of age has perished in invaded districts of East Prussia, Servia and Poland. Thousands are starving in France, Belgium and Germany.

Because Soldiers are all Mothers’ Sons - The doctors say their work is not surgery. Where fighting is in progress thousands of homes have been broken up and hundreds of thousands of girls and women thrown penniless on the world. Because the People of all Countries want the peace terms agreed upon and the men brought home. A young soldier wrote: “Oh, mother, I long just to lift the latch of our door and see you again.” If you vote for conscription that boy and thousands of others will never return. Vote Against Conscription and Bring the Boys Home.

No. 3
- Conscription Hands Us Over to the Armament Ring -
Our newspapers say that the Germans prepared for forty years to build up a military machine with which to wage this war. As a matter of fact, all the nations have been arming and pouring out the people’s wealth in the death dealing instruments which are now making Europe into a shambles. And, what is more, the policy of huge armaments the policy of huge armaments which made war inevitable, and rendered it so dreadful when it came, was dictated by an International Ring of Armament firms under the direction of prominent and all-powerful statesmen and financiers who control parliaments, governments and the press.

- Conscription and Crushing Germany - Mr Hughes says we must go on fighting until Germany is crushed, as, by so doing, we shall achieve Permanent Peace. By playing on this fear, Mr Hughes hopes to persuade the peace-loving people of Australia to sacrifice their young men on the battlefields of Europe, if the military authorities say it is necessary.

To say that a permanent peace will be secured by crushing Germany is to speak ignorantly and foolishly. Are the women and children to be exterminated? Why? In June 1915, Germany had 6,493,000 soldiers or 10% of her total population on the field … If the Allies, by means of fearful sacrifice, destroy that 10%, the rest of the German population, 90% of it, still remain. These are mainly women and children – more than one half are children. They represent the new Germany, and in a few years they will grow to be men and women, from whom a new generation of soldiers can be recruited. Unless the women and children are exterminated, Germany will never be crushed. Moreover, Germany has allies …

“Crushing” methods have been tried in more barbarous times, but they have always failed. In the 30 years’ war (1618-1646) more than half of the population of Germany utterly perished … After a brief period of peace of only 4 years, war broke out again … at the termination of that war Germany had retrieved much lost ground, and Prussia was growing to be a formidable power … In 1806, Napoleon absolutely defeated Prussia … (it was) utterly crushed for 11 years. But what was the result of all the bloodshed, misery and degradation, and seeming military triumph? The patriotic fervour of the whole of Germany was aroused … Sixty four years later Prussia completely overthrew France … That conquest was also futile, as the present warfare shows, for the once defeated France is now taking a terrible toll of German manhood. Crushing methods have always failed.

Woman Voter
21 September 1916:
Prime Minister Expelled; Minister of Customs Resigns - The political events of the week have been the expulsion of the Prime Minister, Mr Hughes, from the Labour Party because of his abrogation of Labour Principles in regard to conscription and general politics, and the resignation of the Minister of Customs, Mr Tudor, from the Cabinet because of his opposition to conscription.

WPA - Child Labour

Woman Voter
21 September 1916:
At a meeting of the Women’s Peace Army on 16th inst., the following resolution was passed unanimously - That the Women’s Peace Army protests against the proposal to employ boy labour in gathering the harvest, and asks the Government to prohibit it absolutely, and to employ men and women in the work at equal rates of pay.
Woman Voter 21 September 1916: It is estimated 30,000 people assembled on the Yarra Bank on Sunday.

Women of Australia! On October 28 we shall have had laid upon us the greatest responsibility and the greatest privilege that could be placed upon the women of any country. For the first time in history, the people of a whole nation are being asked whether they shall declare their allegiance to the force of Might or the force of Right.

The A.B.C. of the Case - Down the ages, the rulers of the world have held that Might is a nation’s only defence, and in the twentieth century this doctrine has been carried to such a point that no nation can claim to be a ‘Great Power’ unless it is so great in naval or military strength as to excite the fear and suspicion of other “Great Powers”...

It has been universally recognised that conscription and freedom are mutually destructive, and in conscript countries the aim of the masses, in contradistinction to the classes, has always been to throw off the crushing yoke of conscription and militarism ...

Man-made laws that defy eternal laws of God, of Right, of Reason, of Love, can never produce good. We cannot gather grapes of thorns, not figs of thistles.  And so we ask you to be true to your womanhood, and, with your vote, bring to the State the same gifts that you bring to your homes, the gifts of order, of beauty, of forbearance, of harmony, of love.

The nations are dying for lack of these gifts from women. Give them freely, give them gladly, but GIVE THEM. YOU CANNOT IF YOU VOTE FOR CONSCRIPTION. Therefore Vote NO.  We believe that the existing commercial and industrial system, the antiquated ideas governing secret diplomacy and foreign affairs, the predatory instincts of financiers, armament firms, newspapers, the militarism of Germany, the Navalism of Great Britain, and the consequent fears of other nations, produced a situation which Foreign Offices were incapable of meeting, and war became inevitable. See full text http://www.marxists.org/history/australia/1916/woman-manifesto.htm

Woman Voter
19 October 1916: Meet at Guild Hall at 1pm Saturday, 21st inst. The Lord Mayor has granted permission to the United Women’s No-Conscription Committee to have a procession from the Guild Hall to the Yarra Bank on Saturday afternoon. This procession will be historic; it will be the first occasion on which Australian women have proclaimed their faith by walking in procession, and we ask our friends to line up at the Guild Hall at 1pm on Saturday.

WPA - New Premises

Woman Voter
26 October 1916:
The Women’s Political Association again moved into new premises at the Guild Hall in Swanston Street. The office gave the WPA what we have long desired in the way of light, air and roominess. We give all our friends a cordial invitation to visit us in our new quarters.

It is now called Storey Hall, RMIT, Swanston St. Melbourne,
decorated in purple and green to respect the WPA (and green for the Hibernians).

WPA - Colours

Woman Voter
December 1909:
The WPA has decided to take as its colours Lavender, Green and Purple; lavender signifying the fragrance of all that is good in the past; green, growth, the unfolding and development of all that makes life rich in purposes and achievement; purple, the royalty of justice, the equal sovereignty of men and women. Members should be proud of their beautiful colours, and wear them always, a small decoration for ordinary occasions, a larger one at special official gatherings.

The Age
23 October 1916: United Women’s No Conscription Committee
Scenes in the City: Acts of Violence - Wild scenes of disorder attended a women’s anti-conscription demonstration in the city on Saturday afternoon.

WPA - Between 4,000 and 6,000 Processionists

Woman Voter
26 October 1916:
The procession and demonstration by the United Women’s No Conscription Committee was a supreme success. An ideal day, between 4,000 and 6,000 women processionists where only 2,000 had been hoped for, artistic tableaux and singing, a seething, sympathetic mass of onlookers along the route, a concourse 80,000 people on the Yarra Bank, earnest, thoughtful speeches, produces a demonstration of feeling such as has never before been witnessed in Australia. There was nothing to mar its success except a few ugly, isolated attempts by a few soldiers of the hooligan type, who find their way into every army, to attack women and children who took part in the procession.

And the pity of it! So desperate is the Press in its efforts to foster conscription in Australia that mendacity and malice of the most venomous kind were employed to make those who could not see the proceedings believe that violence and rioting were the chief features.

WPA - Persia - New Anglo-Russian Agreement

Woman Voter
16 November 1916:
This war, the culmination of unenlightened and anti-democratic diplomacy, has taught us that we must, in future, watch very carefully what the Great Powers are doing to the Little Powers, and to the No Powers.

WPA - Conscription - Proclamation Annulled!

Woman Voter
30 November 1916:
Suddenly, without any previous announcement, the Commonwealth Government, on 22nd inst., decided to revoke the proclamation issued on September 29 to enlist and serve in the Citizen Forces. Another milestone on the way to NO MILITARISM!

WPA - Germany’s Offer

Woman Voter
21 December 1916:
Meeting on the Yarra Bank on Sunday ... passed unanimously -

That this meeting of the Women’s Peace Army hails with joy the first official overtures for Peace as a sign that the belligerent nations are wearying of war, but expresses its determination to work for a Peace that shall not be, like previous peace terms, dictated by potentates, militarists and diplomats, but for a Peace framed by the people and for the people; and the Women’s Peace Army urges the Australian Peace Alliance to convene immediately an Australian People’s Peace Congress, composed of representatives from every organisation opposed to militarism, which shall submit Peace proposals to the Commonwealth Parliament.

Although the WPA stands uncompromisingly for the right of the people to decide peace terms, it believes that, as far as Germany is the belligerent Governments are concerned, Germany’s offer affords a basis on which to begin negotiations.