5 reasons South Australia is a champion for women’s rights


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South Australia has always strived to be a champion of women’s rights.

Here are five ‘firsts’ where South Australia has lead the way.


Annie Ross – first woman to join the police force

First state to appoint female police officers

What seems as the norm in today’s world wasn’t always the case. Prior to 1915, there were no female police officers in the British Empire. South Australia decided to change this when they appointed Kate Cocks and Annie Ross as the first female police officers. They had equal pay and power, a standard many women around the world are still striving for.


Dame Roma Mitchell became the first female judge in Australia

First female superior court judge in Australia

South Australian Dame Roma Mitchell was Australia’s first superior court judge appointed in 1965. Not only that, she then went on to be the first Australian woman to be appointed as chancellor of an Australian university, a position she held with the University of Adelaide from 1983 – 1990. Dame Roma Mitchell was also the first Governor of an Australian State, representing South Australia from 1991-1996.


First Australian University to allow women into bachelor degrees

South Australia has always strived to be a progressive hub even more so for the rites of Australian women. The University of Adelaide was the first university in Australia to allow women into degree courses in 1881. This paved the way for many other Australian universities to follow South Australia’s lead.


Catherine Helen Spence – Australia’s first female political candidate

First Australian state to allow females the right to vote

South Australia was the first Australian state (second in the world) to give women the right to vote and stand for parliament in 1894. This decision was also significant to the female indigenous population as the legislation also included their right to vote in State Elections. This right was not followed at a federal level until 68 years later.


First State to introduce a Sex Discrimination Act

In 1975, South Australia was the first State to introduce a sex discrimination act. This made it illegal to discriminate against a person based on their sex. Although it was not strictly for females only, it had the most impact on South Australian women.

Main header picture – “SAPOL celebrates International Women’s Day 2016 – 100 years of women in South Australia Police”

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