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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Women's Suffrage Association

Significant Tasmanian Women icon

The WSA was formed in 1903 by Jessie Rooke, the president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, to mobilize women for the coming federal election. It aimed to educate women in their electoral duties and encourage enrolment: by holding meetings where candidates could present a point of view, and mock elections.

It was an independent organization from the WCTU, with a new membership. It took a non-party stance, although members were generally middle class, and anti-Labour. There were branches in Hobart, Launceston and Devonport.

Soon after the Association was formed, the state vote was conceded, to avoid anomalies caused by the granting of federal franchise for white women. The Association's name was no longer appropriate, so at the first annual meeting in 1904, it became the Women's Political Association.

Ida McAulay was the first president of the WSA until her resignation in 1905. From then, Emily Dobson dominated the Association, which increasingly became a support group for Senator Dobson's party.

Reference:

Alexander, A., The Public Role of Women in Tasmania, 1803-1914, Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, 1989

This entry was researched and written by Wendy Rimon, B.A.


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