Department of Regional Development and Women's Policy

About Territory Women

International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013

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Milestones for Northern Territory women

22 January 1870 -

First European women and children arrived in Palmerston (now Darwin) by ship.

1878 -

First European women in Central Australia arrive at the Hermannsburg Mission.  Their first language is German.

1884 -

First English speaking European woman arrives in Central Australia, Mary Hayes, wife of contractor and pastoralist William Hayes.

1955 -

Rosie Kunoth Monks, the first Aboriginal female film star but later social worker and crusader for Aboriginal rights; at 15 she was chosen by director Charles Chauvel to play the title role in Australia’s first feature-length colour film Jedda of 1955. She left the film industry behind becoming the first Aboriginal Anglican nun when she entered the Community of the Holy Name in Melbourne in 1960. Ten years later she set up the first family group home for Aboriginal children in Melbourne with husband Bill Monks.

1960 -

Lyn Berlowitz became the first woman to be elected to the then Legislative Council

1967 -

Aboriginal women granted the right to vote

1971 -

Dawn Lawrie became the Independent member of the Legislative Assembly (1971 – 83) the second woman to be elected in the NT

1975 -

Dr Ella Stack - The Northern Territory's first woman mayor appointed in 1975, she also became Darwin City Council's first Lord Mayor from 1979-1980.

1980 -

Freda Glynn co-founded the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association Group of Companies (CAAMA) with John Macumba and Philip Batty. CAAMA incorporates Imparja, the first Aboriginal commercial television station, which commenced broadcasting in 1988 in Alice Springs. Freda also established the first licensed Aboriginal radio station, Radio 8KIN FM, broadcasting in regional languages. In 2002, she played Grandma Nina in the short film Shit Skin, a drama about a young man who takes his grandmother back to the place of her childhood so that she can reconnect with her surviving family. In May 2002, Freda received the Award for Contribution to Indigenous Media at the Third Tudawali Indigenous Film and Video Awards held at the Sydney Opera House.

1982 -

The NT Government created the Office of Women’s Policy

1986 -

Lorraine Liddle - The Northern Territory’s first Aboriginal legal practitioner, travelling between communities as a bush lawyer in Central Australia.

1989 -

The Married Person’s (Equality of Status) Bill passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

1992 -

The Honourable Justice Sally Thomas was appointed the Northern Territory’s first female Supreme Court Judge

1994 -

The NT Working Women’s Centre established

1996 -

The Hon Lorraine Braham appointed the first female Speaker of the Northern Territory legislative Assembly

1997 -

Nova Peris - The first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.  An inspiration to many, particularly in the Aboriginal community, Nova regularly volunteered her time to give motivational talks to children in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

2001 -

Clare Martin - The first female Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. Clare won the 2005 election with an increased majority, but resigned from Parliament in November 2007.

2002 -

Marion Scrymgour - The first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Northern Territory Parliament.  She was the Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory from November 2007 until February 2009, and was the highest-ranked Aboriginal person in government in Australia's history.

Inspirational Territory Women

Tribute to Northern Territory Women

The Tribute to Northern Territory Women is an annual award that recognises, celebrates, and commemorates the achievements of women who have made, or are making, a significant contribution for women in their community.

NT Library – Territory Women

'Territory Women' is an online index to published biographies of women who have made a significant contribution to Territory life. The online database includes women from the pioneering days of the 1870s to the present. It contains references and links to sources of information in print and online, and photographic images from PictureNT, the Northern Territory Library’s photographic online archive. Territory Women is updated regularly. By March 2011 the database will contain the biographies of nearly 400 Territory women from all walks of life.

To tell your story, go to the following website.

Office of Women's Policy

Office of Women's Policy
Department of the Chief Minister
Level 4, NT House, Mitchell Street
PO Box 4396, DARWIN NT 0800
Telephone:   8999 2598
Facsimile:    8999 2577

Territory Women Today

Click here for more information.

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