Seeking Today’s Suffragists

City of Mitcham Seeking Today’s Suffragists

On 18 December 1894, The SA Parliament passed legislation allowing SA women to vote in general elections and stand for election to parliament, making SA the first state in Australia to give women the right to vote. The passing of the Adult Suffrage Bill was the result of many of years of intense lobbying by both men and women.

Their efforts culminated in an extraordinary feat; the presentation to parliament, on 14 August 1894, of a petition containing 11,600 signatories, the pages of which were attached end to end, measuring over 30 metres. The text of the petition is as follows:

“To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly of South Australia, in Parliament assembled: 

The Petition of the undersigned Adult Residents in the Province of South Australia humbly sheweth:- 

I That your petitioners and convinced of the absolute justice of giving Women the Franchise for Both Houses of Parliament on the same terms as it is now, or may thereafter be granted to men.

II They therefore respectfully pray that the necessary Legislation may be passed by your Honourable House with the least possible delay

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.”

To celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage, we at the City of Mitcham wish to express our immense gratitude to the suffragists of the late 19th and early 20th century by creating a pledge of gratitude.

Through this action we hope to reflect the theme of this year’s anniversary, their triumph, our motivation.

We wish to inspire today’s trail-blazers; those who will embrace the challenge, to lead our community in celebration of the suffragists of old and recognise the importance of this momentous decision in greatly advancing the ongoing effort towards achieving gender equity.

Despite what it might sound like, suffrage doesn’t have anything to do with suffering. In fact, suffrage is a term that refers to a person’s ability to participate in society by being able to vote at elections. Being able to vote is a key part of citizenship and allows each person to have their say about what is important to them and what they think their lives should be like. When people vote, they are saying which policies they value, which political party they would like to make decisions on their behalf, and which politician they trust to improve life for themselves and for their community.

For more information on the 125th anniversary of suffrage visit the Government of South Australian website here.