Our Achievements

The temperance movement has had an effect on society in all lands.

In the United States of America it was instrumental in helping to stem the abuse and crime resulting from the liquor trade and bringing in prohibition. During the 13 years that it was in force, the hospitals and jails were almost emptied. Family life flourished and crime diminished, except for the bootleggers and the cronies of Al Capone.

WCTU operates in over 46 countries around the world. It has various programs to help the women of those countries. Japan has a program called HELP where they shelter young girls who have been lured to the country to obtain work, but on arrival have their passports confiscated and find themselves forced into prostitution. Korea has run workshops on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Worldwide, the WCTU has proposed, supported, and helped establish:

  • protection of women and children at home and work
  • women's right to vote
  • shelters for abused women and children
  • the eight-hour work day
  • equal pay for equal work
  • founding of free kindergartens and Baby Health Centres
  • assistance in founding of the PTA
  • federal aid for education
  • stiffer penalties for sexual crimes against girls and women
  • uniform marriage and divorce laws
  • dress reform
  • travelers' aid
  • prison reform and police matrons
  • women police officers
  • convalescent homes and cottages for returning soldiers
  • homes and education for wayward girls
  • promotion of nutrition
  • pure food and drug act
  • legal aid
  • labour's right to organise
  • passive demonstrations and world peace

The WCTU has opposed and worked against:

  • alcohol
  • drug trafficking
  • tobacco, and other drugs
  • white slavery
  • child labour
  • army brothels
  • prostitution
  • gambling
  • female circumcision


How has WCTU impacted on life in Australia?

A year after (1883) WCTU was formed in NSW the drink bill of the state was 5 pound, 16 shillings per head. In the first year of the new century (18 years later) it had reduced to 3 pound, 13 shillings and five pence per head.

In 1882 there was one public house to 264 people, but in 1916 they had reduced to one to 913 people.

Scientific teaching on temperance was established in state schools and competitive examinations were held. Today, our Victorian State Union - WCTU Drug-Free Lifestyles, runs drug education programs in the schools, giving demonstrations and information on drug-free living.

In 1889 mothers and baby meetings were commenced by the Burwood Union. These meetings were the early forerunners of our modern Baby Health Centres.

WCTU was also associated with opening the first Kindergarten at Richmond, Victoria which also incorporated a school for mothers.

The age of consent for girls was raised from 13 to 18 years.

Women's Suffrage:

WCTU was associated with the women's suffrage movements throughout the world.

In New Zealand WCTU alone achieved the woman's vote in 1893, the first country in the world.

In 1894 - South Australian members obtained 8268 (3/4) of the 11600 signatures on a petition regarding the enfranchisement of women which was presented to parliament. That ultimately gave all women in that state the right to vote, being the second place in the world to do so.

South Australia was the first state to allow women a seat in Parliament. Two of the first four women justices appointed were members of the WCTU and one of these was the first woman to appear on the bench of a Law Court in the British Empire.

Women's suffrage was successful in Western Australia (1899), NSW (1902), Tasmania (1903), Queensland (1905) with Victoria last in 1908.

U.S.A. (1920) and England (1928) were amongst the last. WCTU was at the forefront of this action in world history.

Other Work:

WCTU sent an ambulance to France during World War 1 and held days of prayer throughout the war. Convalescent homes and cottages were provided for returning soldiers.

During the 1950's members advocated chemical testing for the Blood Alcohol Content for drivers.

Submissions were made on tobacco advertising, smoking in enclosed places and other related issues with the results that today, many Australian states have good laws protecting people from cigarette smoke and limiting advertising. Warning labels on cigarettes was also introduced.

For some years, WCTU in Australia has been campaigning regarding the use of alcohol in pregnancy and the risks of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) A seedstick campaign was run in 2005, followed by a postcard card campaign to the Minister of Health for warning labels to be placed on alcoholic beverages.

WCTU also assisted in the UNIFEM Say No to Violence Against Women Campaign in 2008. More than 5 million people at that time, said NO to Violence against Women demonstrating that there is an enormous movement of people determined to put an end to this pervasive human rights violation that affects as many as one in three women.