Susan Hewwitt and Penelope Lee, 2008
When suffagists campaigned for the vote in the late nineteenth century, critics said that women had
no interest in political rights. Leading activist Marie Kirk, Vida Goldstein and Annette
Bear-Crawford, working with such organisations such as the Women's Christian Temperance union and
the Victorian Women's Suffrage Society sought support from both men and women throughout Victoria.
A giant petition with 30,000 signatires , later to be known as the Monster Petition, was offered up
to parliament in 1891 as evidence of the widespread support for equal voting rights for women.
The bulky document carried into the legislature by several attendants, was claimed to be the
largest petition presented to the Victorian parliament to that date.
Yet the continuing oppostion of the parliament , which knock back numerous Bills, meant that
women had to wait another seventeen years before they were given voting rights in Victoria with the
passage of the Adult Suffrage Act in 1908.
Victoria was the last Australian State to grant women the suffage, and evn then most Indigenous
women would be denied rights until 1962.
Professor Marilyn Lake
Commissioned by the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria, the Community Support Fund and
the Office of Women's Policy in collaboration with the City of Melbourne.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of Dulux and the Victorian Women's Trust.