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WCTU AUSTRALIA HISTORY

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AUSTRALIAN PRESIDENTS

1891-1894               

1894-1903                

1903- 1906              

1906-1912                 

1912-1921                  

1921-1927                

1927-1930                

1930-1936               

1936-1945                 

1945-1951                  

1951-1957                 

1957-1963                 

1963-1966                  

1966-1972                 

1972-1978                  

1978-1984                  

              

Miss J Ackerman

Mrs E W Nicholls

Mrs J S Rooke

Mrs S S Nolan

Lady Holder JP

Mrs JohnMcLeod JP

Mrs E C Strang

Mrs J Tait JP

Mrs Griffiths Lloyd

Mrs HC Tipper

Mrs N I Chesterfield

Mrs H V Gray

Miss Isabel McCorkindale MBE

Mrs L T Williams

Mrs W B Wharton

Mrs G E Renolds

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1984-1991        Mrs J Cocks JP

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1991-1995       Miss O Edwards

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1995-2000       Mrs D Giddings

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2000-2006       Mrs M Martin JP

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2006-2013    Mrs E Chandler

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2013-2018    Mrs A Bergen

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2018 - Current  Mrs J Butler

WCTU is proud of their heritage of service to others ever since their beginnings in Australia in 1882.

WCTU began in Sydney and has continued
throughout Australia until today.  Read more about this long history.

THE BEGINNINGS

         1882

WCTU commenced operation in New South Wales on Monday, 22 August, 1882 in the Temperance Hall in Pitt Street, Sydney. The meeting was hosted by Mr Eli Johnson, a visiting American temperance lecturer.

1884

Other local Unions were started in the suburbs of Sydney as well as in country areas of New South Wales.

Mary Clement Leavitt was sent out as a white ribbon missionary from the U.S.A. to Australia. During her visit,

she formed five branches in Queensland, one in New South Wales, one in South Australia and three in Tasmania.

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1885

The first branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Tasmania was formed in Hobart.

1885

The first local Union in Queensland was formed in Brisbane in September, inspired by the visit of Mary Leavitt. Mrs W. Steele was elected first president.

1885

The first local Union was established in Victoria and the movement grew rapidly. The Victorian Union was founded largely due to the efforts of Marie Kirk and the Rev. Philip Moses who arranged the first Organising Conference in 1887.

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1886

Queensland The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Queensland was formed at the first Colonial convention.

Tasmania Influenced by the visit of the World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union missionary Mary Leavitt, three new branches were established in Tasmania.

South Australia The WCTU in South Australia was started in Adelaide with 57 members on the afternoon of Thursday April 8, in the rooms of the Y.M.C.A., Gawler Place, by Mrs Mary Clement Leavitt of America. An adjourned meeting was held in the same place on April 9, and  it was decided to form a local union, and the rules and plan of work, outlined by Mrs Leavitt, who presided, were adopted. Mrs Leavitt presided at a further meeting on Monday April 12, when officers were elected as follows: Local President - Mrs W.E. Rice; local secretary - Miss Papualin [who was also secretary of the Y.W.C.A.]; local treasurer - Mrs Matthew Goode.

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1887

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Victoria was founded when the 12 existing local branches in Melbourne suburbs and regional Victoria joined together to form a Colonial Union.

1889

The movement was reinvigorated by visits from the

American Union’s second world missionary, Jessie

Ackerman. She particularly ensured that women's suffrage was high on the agenda in the early activities of the Australian Union.

1889

The first Colonial Convention of the WCTU of South Australia was organised by Miss Jessie Ackerman, with a membership of 1112 and 23 local unions. Elizabeth Webb Nicholls was its first state president

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A Colonial Union, to be known as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of New South Wales, was formed.

​Encouraged by visits from America the fledgling organisation had a broad agenda of 'home protection' and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. They were very interested in the welfare and protection of women and children and becamea  key supporter of women's suffrage. They realiased that their influence at the ballot box was the best wayto achieve their goals. They also advocated for equal pay and working conditions.

1890

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1891

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of Western Australia was founded, inspired by the visit of Jessie Ackerman. The first local Union In Western Australia was formed in York, with another five soon following. By August 1891, a Colonial Union with 155 members had been established.

1891

Tasmanian State Union formed.

1891

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Australasia (later renamed the National Women's Christian Temperance Union of Australia) was formed on the 25th May, 1891 at a meeting held in Melbourne for the purpose of federating the existing Colonial Unions. This was probably the first interstate gathering of women’s organisations held in Australia and the Union was the first national women's organization in the country.

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There were 14 local Unions in Tasmania with a membership of 280. In the 1890s the Hobart Branch worked with the Chinese community and prisoners and advocated broad ranging social and political reforms including women’s suffrage.

During World War I they fought for early closing and distributed literature on venereal disease. They also fought for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act.

1894

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1900

WCTU CONVENTIONS

1900- 30 March-6 April, Adelaide, South Australia - 4th Convention
1903 - 28 April-1 May, Melbourne, Victoria - 5th Convention

1906 - 26 February-2 March, Hobart, Tasmania - 6th Convention

1909 - 29 April-8 May, Sydney, NSW - 7th Convention

When the Commonwealth Franchise Act, 1902 (now the Commonwealth Electoral Act) was passed, 12th Junes 1902, women achieved the right to vote in Federal Elections. WCTU women had been active working toward franchise in each colony. Petitions from the WCTU had been circulated among women’s and kindred societies, praying for women’s suffrage and against wine bonuses (a subsidy to grape growers).

1902

1903

Prayer and intercession to God was encouraged, from earliest days, as a vital part of WCTU work. The 1903 Convention advocated that more meetings be held for prayer, Bible study and that prayer circles be formed to reach out with the Christian Temperance message.  The President, Mrs Rookes and the Corresponding Secretary toured Queensland, NSW and Victoria after Convention urging prayer circles to be formed.

1906

There was ongoing concern for Australia’s Aboriginal population, with the 1906 Convention wishing to: ‘record with deep sorrow and regret at the deplorable condition and treatment of aboriginal women in the north-west of West Australia as revealed by Commissioner Dr Roth in his “Report on Aboriginals of Western Australia”.’ 

The passing of the ‘Amending Licensing Act’ in NSW was praised as a great victory at the 1906 Convention.  Two of the provisions of the Act included -

•   That it be unlawful for a licensee to supply liquor to any person under the age of 18

•   No person under 17 to be allowed in a hotel bar

Thanks were given at the 1906 Convention for the passing of the Commonwealth Act - ‘to prohibit the sale and importation of opium except for medicinal purposes.’ WCTU had agitated for this for some years before.

The Victorian Union regretted at the 1906 Convention the fact that: ‘there were many other interests that now attract women who would otherwise unite with us.’

Queensland WCTU distributed Anti-cigarette pledge cards.  The use of tobacco, that ‘filthy weed’ was a focus of education and agitation against by the National WCTU.

1909

White Ribbon Recruits was the new name for the Cradle Roll department of WCTU.  It became one of the most essential for all local Unions. LTL or Loyal Temperance Legion for the juveniles revived again.

The Boer War had ended and the National Union in 1909 urged the abolition of wet (ie alcoholic), military canteens.

WORLD CONVENTIONS

1912 - 23 May-1 June, Brisbane, Queensland - 8th Convention

1915 - 8-18 May, Adelaide, South Australia - 9th Convention

1918 - 30 August-10 September, Perth, West Australia - 10th Convention

1914

The chilling announcement of war came on August 4, 1914. With Australians fighting overseas, hotel trading hours in Australia were reduced to such an extent that 6 o’clock closing became part of the Australia way of life, for the next fifty or more years.

1915

A letter was sent from the 1915 Convention to the Prime Minister. It congratulated the Federal government on the foundation of the federal capital, Canberra and asked that it be a ‘prohibition city’.  This followed up requests by earlier Conventions. The sale of liquor was, in fact, prohibited in the Australian Capital Territory until 1928.

1918

The WCTU strongly disapproved of cigarettes, which members saw as the cause of much physical and moral deterioration, and a Resolution to that affect was passed in 1918.

At the 1918 Convention a resolution was passed asking that the sale of all alcoholic beverages be prohibited on the Kalgoorlie train, known as the ‘drunks train’, as in other trains in the Commonwealth. It was prohibited and the WCTU rejoiced.

At the Convention the members enjoyed a Town Hall reception from the Mayor of Perth, a Platform night at Wesley Church and a Juvenile demonstration on the Saturday afternoon at the Town Hall, preceded by a Grand March. Prohibition meetings are held in Kalgoorlie and Boulder City.

The WCTU of the Australian Capital Territory was incorporated into the New South Wales Union.

​Networking has been important part of our organisation. WCTU was an original member, and remains a member, of the National Council of Women throughout Australia as well as being involved with other organisations.

1965

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2008

The WCTU of New South Wales changed direction and formed the WCTU Foundation to provide funding for initiatives in drug and alcohol education and work.

2009

2009

National Woman's Christian Temperance Union of

Australia Ltd changed its name to WCTU Australia Ltd and took the name WOW Unlimited for use in Drug Education, Facebook and Youth Group activities.

2013

The 39th World WCTU Convention was held in Glenelg, South Australia from May 3 - 8. Over 180 members from more than 20 countries met to share reports, discuss business, share fellowship and receive inspiration to share the vision of a drug-free world.

2015

 Introduction of FASD band aid packs with the message: “NO Band aid for FASD. For your baby’s sake – No alcohol while pregnant.” 5,000 bought for distribution.

2016

41st National Convention – at Foothills Conference Centre, Mooroolbark, Melbourne. Theme – ‘Make Me a Woman You Can Use’.

2016 – Special outreach to indigenous women with a further 5,000 band aid packs with the message, “Babies and grog don’t mix. Band aids won't fix”, being bought, along with an appropriate leaflet, “About FASD”, which was obtained through Catholic Health in the Northern Territory. 5,000 sticky notepads with the message, “Take note! Babies and booze don’t mix. No alcohol is the best fix" were distributed widely through Infant Welfare Centres, medical centres, play groups, libraries and other contacts.

2018

42nd National Convention - at Newcastle, NSW   Theme - ‘Agitate, Educate, Organise, Legislate’  Joy Butler elected president.

FASD advertising on buses commenced with a large advertisement on the side of a bus on the NSW Central Coast. This was followed by an advertisement on the side of a bus in Newcastle. Victoria has also placed a similar ad on a bus in Geelong.

2019

‘Connector’ as a once-a-month National online newsletter commenced.

41st World Convention - at Helsinki, Finland  Theme - ‘Going Forward, Thinking Globally, Acting Locally’

 

2019 - 2022 new FASD warnings were given through short ads on TV screens in 10 doctors’ waiting rooms in WA, QLD, and NSW as well as ads on the rear of buses for 12 months in Blacktown, Tamworth, Port Macquarie, and Kempsey,

2020

Women of Purpose - Australian women who cared for God-Home-Humanity’ book was published.  Edited by Joy Butler

2022

43rd National Convention - at Adelaide, South Australia Theme - ‘Come Alive’

2023

Citizen Advocate position installed for National Australia

2023

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