The Hon Julia Gillard MP became Australia’s first female Prime Minister.
The Matildas won Australia’s first major international soccer trophy at the 2010 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup in Chengdu, China.
The Government introduced a Paid Parental Leave scheme to provide greater financial support to families, increase workforce participation and promote early childhood development.
The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver was the first time that an Australian Olympic Team had an equal number of women and men.
The ‘Year of the Girl Guide’ – celebrating 100 years of the Guiding movement.
The Hon Anna Bligh MP, Premier of Queensland, became the first woman in Australian history to be directly elected to the position of State Premier.
Justice Virginia Bell was appointed to the High Court of Australia, only the fourth woman appointed to the High Court since Federation and the third female member of the current seven member panel.
Dr Megan Clark became CEO of the CSIRO, the first woman to head Australia's peak science agency.
Her Excellency, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, was appointed Australia’s first woman Governor-General. Ms Bryce is the 25th Governor-General and the first female to hold the role.
Ms Bryce spent her early years in central western Queensland and went on to become a talented lawyer, academic and human rights advocate. Her former roles include Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and founding chair and Chief Executive Officer of the National Childcare Accreditation Council. She was the Govenor of Queensland prior to taking up this role.
Cheryl Bart and Nikki Bart became the first mother and daughter team to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
The Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy was appointed the first female bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishop Goldsworthy was also in the first group of women ordained as an Anglican priest in Perth 1992.
The Hon Julia Gillard MP became Australia’s first female Deputy Prime Minister.
In the current Federal Parliament 29.6 per cent of Members and Senators are women. There are 27 women in the Senate, out of a total of 76 Senators, and 40 women in the House of Representatives out of a total of 150 Members. Women have the strongest representation to date in the Ministry. Of the present Ministry, including the Cabinet, outer Ministry and Parliamentary Secretaries, 10 or 23.8 per cent are women.
In December 2007, there were some changes to the Australia Public Service (APS). Five of the APS Secretaries are women.
Ms Patricia Scott heads the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
- Ms Lisa Paul is Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
- Ms Lynelle Briggs heads the Australian Public Service Commission
- Ms Helen Williams AO is Secretary of the Department of Human Services and
- Ms Jane Halton PSM, is Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing
Justice Susan Kiefel was appointed to the High Court of Australia. Justice Kiefel was only the third female to join the male-dominated bench. She will sit alongside Justice Susan Crennan, making it the first time in its 104 year history Australia has had two female High Court judges at the same time.
Susan Brennan was elected world president of the YWCA at the YWCA World Conference. Her campaign focused on young women's leadership and the challenges presented by violence against women, women living in conflict situations and HIV/AIDS. The need for economic justice for women was also a priority. Ms Brennan is a former Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Co-Chair and Trustee.
Katrina Webb a paralympian, was one of four international athletes to present at the closing ceremony of the United International Year of Sport and Physical Education.
The Australian Opals became Australia’s first national senior basketball team to win a world championship gold medal.
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2005 Australian of the Year was awarded to Dr Fiona Wood AM, Head of the Royal Perth Burns Unit and Director of the Western Australia Burns Service. Dr Wood was Western Australia's only female plastic surgeon and co-founder of Clinical Cell Culture, a private company recognised in medical circles for its world-leading research and breakthroughs in the treatment of burns.
January 2005, 190 women received awards in the general 2005 Australia Day Honours list (or 32.6 per cent of the honours awarded). Nominations for 59.4 per cent of women were successful compared with 52.8 per cent of men. Of great significance, three women received the highest award, that of Companion in the Order of Australia:
- Dr Jean Calder AC for humanitarian service in the Middle East, international relations, and academic and professional training in education and rehabilitation;
- Emeritus Professor Enid Campbell OBE for services to legal scholarship and education, constitutional law and public law reform; and
- Lady (Mary) Fairfax AC OBE for services to the community for ongoing medical research initiatives, improved health care opportunities, nurturing artistic talent in young performers and preservation of diverse cultural heritage.
May 2005, women made up 26.5 per cent of the Federal Parliament (ie. 60 of the 226 members) and 23 (or 30.3 per cent) of Senators and 37 (or 24.7 per cent) of Members in the House of Representatives were women. This is almost double the international average of 15.7 per cent ( IPU figures as at 28 February 2005 ).
Australia Day 2004, 198 women were recognised in the Australia Day Honours list (or 35.8 per cent under the General Division of the Order of Australia). Nominations for 58.1 per cent of women were successful compared with 46.9 per cent of men. Of great significance, 40.5 per cent of recipients of the Officers in the Order of Australia (AO) were women.
On 26 January 2004, Air Vice Marshal Julie Hammer was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for exceptional service in the fields of electronics engineering in Defence, and military education as the Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy.
In February 2004, Heather Ridout became first female chief executive of the Australian Industry Group.
In June, 165 women were recognised in the general 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours list. There was one recipient of the highest category, that of Companion in the Order (AC), 17 recipients of the Officer in the Order of Australia (AO), 32 were made Members (AM) and 115 recipients of a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM).
In October 2004, there were significant changes to the Australia Public Service with four new appointments, all of which were women:
- Ms Joanna Hewitt was appointed Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry;
- Ms Lisa Paul was appointed Secretary of the Department of Education, Science and Training;
- Ms Patricia Scott was appointed Secretary of the new Department of Human Services; and
- Ms Lynelle Briggs was appointed as Public Service Commissioner.
These appointments, together with Ms Helen Williams AO, Secretary of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, and Ms Jane Halton PSM, Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, meant that six of the 19 Australian Public Service Departmental Secretaries were women (or 31.6 per cent).
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In November, Carmen Lawrence was elected first female President of the Labor Party after the first nationwide membership ballot for the position.
Also in 2003, Air Vice Marshall Julie Hammer became the first female to achieve that rank in the Royal Australian Air Force, continuing as highest ranked female in the Australian Defence Force.
Kareena Ballard became first female president of the Real Estate Institute of Australia.
Ms Jenny Macklin MP was elected as Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party and became the first women to hold such a position in either of the two major political parties (ALP or Liberal/National Coalition).
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja was elected as leader of the Australian Democrats and at age 32, became the youngest person of any party to hold such a position.
Thirty-nine women elected to House of Representatives, 16 women elected to Senate (total 55 women elected to Parliament).
In February, Kendell Airlines new general manager, Mary-Louise Cann, was the first woman to rise through the ranks to head the operations of a large Australian airline.
In February, the Women's Royal Australian Army Corp celebrated their 50th anniversary.
In February, Carol Martin was the first Aboriginal Woman to be elected to an Australian Parliament (Western Australia State Government).
Christine Nixon was the first woman to become a police commissioner in Australia.
Professor Marie Bashir became the first female governor of New South Wales.
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On Australia Day 2000, women received 30.4 per cent of the honours awarded. Nominations for women increased with 230 nominations for women considered. Honours recipients included:
- Betty Johnson AO, for service to the community as a consumer advocate and for her work with the Older Women's Network Australia and the Australian Pensioners' and Superannuants' Federation;
- Ann Sefton AO, for service to medical education;
- Stella O'Donnell AO, for service to the advancement of pharmaceutical science;
- Lorna Fejo, awarded a Centeneray Medal for her work with the Aboriginal community and to the wider Australian community;
- Kaarene Fitzgerald AC, who established the Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation Inc. and
- Vicki Wilson OAM, Australian netball team captain from 1996-1999.
In January, Dame Roma Mitchell was awarded the Royal Victorian Order (RVO) in the Queen's New Year's Honours list. This is the highest Victorian Order that can be awarded to an Australian.
In January, two female graduate students from the University of New South Wales, Jessica Dempsey and Jill Rathbourne, became the first female Australian scientists to work at the South Pole.
In January, two female Monash University Students, Kim Little and Cathy Rossouw, won the World University Debating Championships from a field of 250 other international teams.
In January, Diana Bryant QC was announced as the first Chief Federal Magistrate (Designate) of the new Federal Magistrates Service.
In January Dr Jill Ker Conway became the first woman to be appointed as Chairperson of the Lend Lease Corporation, a $10 billion, multinational property developer and funds manager.
In January the Hon Jackie Kelly MP became the first woman to give birth while serving as a Federal Government Minister.
In March seven rural women were recognised as part of the inaugural Rural Women's Awards and received bursaries of $20,000 to build on their management, business or leadership skills.
In March 33-year-old curator and writer, Ms Beth Jackson became the youngest person to ever be appointed to the Australia Council.
Dr Kerryn Phelps was elected in May as the first woman President of the Australian Medical Association.
In November, Ms Maureen Plavsic became the first woman to lead an Australian television network, becoming Managing Director of the Seven Television Network.
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In January, three women were appointed Companion in the Order of Australia, the highest honour under the Order of Australia. They were Professor Suzanne Cory for service to science; Ms Kaarene Fitzgerald for community service in relation to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); and Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue, CBE, AM for public service and leadership to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
In March Kathy Sullivan became the longest serving Federal female Parliamentarian in Australian History having served 9,080 days in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act was introduced into Parliament on 22 September 1999, replacing the Affirmative Action Act 1986.
In October 1999 female labour force participation rate of almost 55 per cent (for women aged 15 and over) was the highest on record.
The representation of Indigenous women on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Regional Councils increased to a record 30 per cent following the October elections.
Susan O'Neill equalled Sir Frank Beaurepaire's record of 33 as the highest number of Australian Open swimming titles.
Zali Steggal was the first skiing world champion for Australia.
Carla Zampatti was the first woman appointed as Chair of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).
Dawn Fraser was named Best Female Swimmer of the Century and Australia's Female Athlete of the Century, the only Australian among international winners of the sports star of the century awards.
The Hockeyroos became the most successful side in the history of women's world hockey after winning their 8th consecutive major title.
The Australian Service Nurses' National Memorial was opened on 2 October 1999: the centenary of service nursing.
In December, Louise Sauvage became the first Paralympian to be named Australian Athlete of the Year.
Thirty-three women elected to House of Representatives, and 10 women elected to Senate (total 22).
Professor Alice Tay was appointed President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the first woman to hold this office.
Susie O'Neill became the highest gold medal winner in the history of the Commonwealth Games.
Louise Sauvage was named Paralympian of the Year for the fourth time.
Belinda Clark was named Inaugural Wisden Australian Cricketer of the Year.
Penny Wensley was appointed Australia's Ambassador to the United Nations, the most senior external appointment ever given to a woman in the Australian Foreign Service.
Australia was the first English-speaking country to appoint a woman to head its national postal service when Linda Nicholls was appointed Chairwoman of the Australia Post Board.
Women made up 54 per cent of all higher education students, compared with 50 per cent in 1987.
462,300 women were small business operators; these women make up 35 per cent of Australia's 1.3 million small business operators.
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Senator Margaret Reid becomes the first female president of the Senate.
Thirteen women elected to the Senate.
The first Australasian Women in Police Conference was held in Sydney.
Gloria Shipp became the first female Aborigine to be ordained as an Anglican Priest.
ABC Radio presenter, Elaine Canty, was the first woman appointed to the Australian Football League Tribunal.
Nova Peris-Kneebone was the first Aboriginal woman to win Olympic Gold.
Three Sydney women became wharfies, ending male domination of Australian docks.
Professor Fay Gale became the first female President of the Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee.
Wendy Craik became first female director of the National Farmers' Federation.
Jennie George became the first female President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Amendments to Sex Discrimination Act to include discrimination on the ground of potential pregnancies became effective.
The Rural Women's Unit was established in the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy.
Department of Employment Education and Training Curriculum Material - addressing gender based violence released.
Dr Heather Munro became first female president of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Home Childcare Allowance was introduced.
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Working Women's Centres were established and funded by the Federal Government at a cost of $500,000 per annum, to give advice to women on issues such as workplace bargaining and access to training.
The National Strategy on Violence Against Women was launched.
Cash rebate introduced for work related childcare expenses for children up to 12 years.
Launch of a training package on eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was strengthened. Amendments included:
- dismissal on the grounds of family responsibilities became a ground for complaint under the Act
- extension of the Act to cover Federal industrial awards and workplace agreements
- amendment of the definition of sexual harassment so that complainants no longer needed to show that they suffered a disadvantage or detriment.
The Federal Attorney General established the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into women's equality before the law.
The Australian Institute of Judicial Administration and the Family Court of Australia were funded to develop gender awareness programmes for members of the judiciary and other decision-makers.
The Australian Council for Women was established as a consultative body with women in Australia and to advise the Government on the Fourth UN World Conference on Women, to be held in Beijing in 1995.
Senator Cheryl Kernot became the third woman to lead an Australian political party, the Australian Democrats.
The first female National Party of Australia Parliamentary Member of the House of Representatives was De-Anne Kelly, Member for Dawson in Queensland, elected in 1993.
Janet Holmes A'Court became the first woman appointed to the Reserve Bank Board.
Justice Elizabeth Evatt, President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, became the first Australian elected to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Dame Roma Mitchell was appointed Governor of South Australia, becoming the first female vice-regal representative in Australia.
Gail Owen was appointed the Law Institute's first female president in 132 years.
The Work and Family Unit in the Commonwealth Department of Industrial Relations was established.
The first Women and Sport Promotion Awards were held.
Fee Relief under the Commonwealth Children's Services Programme was extended to privately operated childcare services.
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Senator Janet Powell becomes the second woman to lead the Australian Democrats, and the first woman member of either House to have a private bill passed by both Houses, the Smoking and Tobacco Products Advertisements (Prohibition) Act 1989 .
Carolyn Jakobsen, MP, is elected chair of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (Caucus), the first woman to hold this position, and Elaine Darling, MP, and Mary Crawford, MP, are elected Vice-chair and Secretary respectively.
Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue, AC CBE, was appointed first woman Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.
Dr Carmen Lawrence was the first woman to be elected an Australian State Premier (Western Australia), followed by Joan Kirner (Victoria).
Cathy Freeman was the first Aboriginal woman to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Deirdre O'Connor was the first female Federal Court Judge and president of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Australia ratified the International Labour Organisation Convention No 156, Workers with Family Responsibilities.
Dr Diana Horvath was the first woman chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Betty Churcher was the first woman appointed as Director of the Australian National Gallery.
The National Committee on Violence Against Women was established.
The Equal Pay Unit in the Department of Industrial Relations was established.
Australian statement 'Women and Environment' was launched.
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Rosemary Follett became the first female Head of an Australian Government when she was elected Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory.
Flight Lieutenant RD Williams and Flying Officer Hicks were the first female pilots to graduate in the Royal Australian Air Force.
The Prime Minister launched the first National Agenda for Women. It was based on the United Nation's Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women.
The National Agenda for Women's Grants Programme was established.
The Child Support Agency was established and the Child Support Scheme introduced.
Equity became a national objective of all TAFE programmes.
Professor Di Yerbury became the first female to be appointed Vice-Chancellor (Macquarie University).
The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne announced the ordination of women.
The National Breast Cancer Screening and Cervical Cancer Pilot Projects were established.
The National Domestic Violence Education Programme was announced.
The Family Allowance Supplement (FAS) was introduced.
The Aboriginal Women's Initiatives Programme was established in ATSIC.
The National Policy for the Education of Girls in Australian Schools was announced.
Women surpassed men for the first time in participation in higher education.
School retention rates for girls exceeded those of boys for the first time.
The National Policy and Plan for Women in Sport was published. Women's Sport Promotion Unit (WSPU) established.
The Survey of Gender-Differentiated Provisions in Federal Awards was published.
The Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act was widened to promote equal opportunity in certain Commonwealth authorities.
Senator Margaret Reid and Senator Susan Knowles representing the Liberal Party become Opposition Whip and Deputy Opposition Whip respectively.
Mary Gaudron became the first woman justice of the High Court of Australia.
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Senator Janine Haines became the first woman leader of a political party, the Australian Democrats.
The Hon Anne Levy became the President of the Legislative Council and so became the first women to be a Presiding Office of a House of Parliament in Australia. She was elected to the South Australian Legislative Council in 1975 where she remained until 1997.
The Hon Joan Child, MP became first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Pat O'Shane became the first Aboriginal woman to be appointed a Magistrate by the NSW government.
Justice Elizabeth Evatt became the first woman President of the Australian Law Reform Commission.
The Rural Women's Access Grants Programme commenced.
The Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986 was passed in Federal Parliament.
The Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act was passed.
The Women's Employment Education and Training Advisory Group (WEETAG) was formed to advise the Commonwealth Minister for Employment, Education and Training.
The Supported Accommodation Assistance Programme (SAAP), including the Women's Emergency Support Programmes, commenced.
Professor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith was the first woman President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
Ms Helen Williams was appointed first woman Secretary of a Commonwealth Department, in the Department of Education.
The Federal Sex Discrimination Act was passed, based on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The First Federal Government Women's Budget Statement was tabled.
The Public Service Reform Act introduced Equal Employment Opportunity Programmes into the Australian Public Service.
The Aboriginal Women's Unit was established in the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
The National Women's Consultative Council was established.
The Women's Research and Employment Initiatives Programme was established in the Commonwealth Department of Education and Youth Affairs.
Justice Elizabeth Evatt was the first Australian elected to the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. She served on the Committee from 1984-1992 and was elected chair from 1989-1991.
Aboriginal voting and enrolling became compulsory.