The Influence of Women in The Nationals
The Nationals women have always punched above their weight.
As the one political party that has been looking after the interests of regional Australians for over ninety years, the women in the Party pride themselves on their input and influence into policies and administration.
Late in 1959, largely on the initiative of John McEwen, a Women’s Conference was formed within Federal Council. Very soon after it became know as Women’s Federal Council (WFC). When Doug Anthony took over the Federal Leadership he decided to increase the direct flow of information between WFC and his office. He appointed an executive officer to the WFC in 1973 and introduced the idea of nominating an annual policy study project for WFC. Later, the WFC reports were presented to Federal Council or Conference and, if adopted, to the Federal Parliamentary Party.
From this initiative, one study that was carried out into domestic violence in 1989/90 resulted in The Nationals being the first party to recognise the problems and have a policy written into the Party’s platform.
In 1992, then-President of the WFC, Helen Dickie, presented a controversial women’s policy to Federal Council that was passed unanimously. The Party gained huge publicity in the lead up to the 1993 election. The States later followed with their own women’s policies. Many of the issues in that Policy remain relevant to women to this day.
Today, the WFC considers policy issues, undertakes research and presents motions to Federal Conference and Council, giving greater participation for women in the democratic decision-making process.