Message from the Chief Commissioner

100 Years of Women In Policing

Release date: Wed 2 August 2017

Last updated: Mon 25 September 2017

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100 Years of Women in Policing

 

Major moments

 

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The fight for police women

Key political figures that had earlier pushed for women's suffrage began to fight for the employment of female police officers. The National Council of Women and the Women's Political Association (including famous suffragette and women's rights activist Vida Goldstein) agitated for female police officers. The issue was debated in parliament and several deputations of women paid visits to the Chief Commissioner and major Victorian politicians. It took several years of campaigning.

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The first police women

The first police women were 'sworn in' on 28 July, 1917. They received 90 pounds a year in pay, and contrary to newspaper reports at the time, wore no uniform and had no powers of arrest.

The first two women were Madge Connor and Elizabeth Beers and were employed as 'police agents'. Elizabeth Beers soon retired and was replaced by Nell Davison, a staunch Salvation Army member.

Women had been working with Victoria Police prior to this, as 'undercover agents' used to gather information. Ellen Cook and Jessie Clarey later joined.

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The first swearing in

The four police women we at last sworn in in 1924, 7 years after the first was employed, with the same pay and rights as policemen. They did not, however, receive overtime or necessarily equal pay for equal work. They also wore no uniform, so had to pay for a level of clothing deemed acceptable for police women.

 


World War II

In WWII a large segment of the police-force left to fight overseas. Victoria Police, like many other major organisations (including the Army) called for an 'Auxiliary force' of women to fill their places.

Over the course of the war, and for some years after, Victoria Police employed over 200 Auxiliary Police women. The Auxiliary police women were not sworn police, however they were given a uniform before police women.

 


The 70s / 80s

Social movements championing women's rights began to have an impact on the makeup of Victoria Police. More women began to join, and more women pushed for diverse roles. The 70s and 80s saw a major change in the sort of work women did in the police force.

 


The Equal Opportunity Act

The Equal Opportunity Act was implemented within Victoria Police in 1978. The Act removed separate seniority lists and the identification of police women on their caps by a PW badge. It also removed the marriage bar (married women were able to join, and single women were able to remain after marriage). Women transferred into general duties. Women were to receive the same training (including self-defence and pistol training) and were officially able to carry handcuffs, batons and guns.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 
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