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Women's Suffrage

2008 marked the centenary of the right for Victorian non-indigenous women to vote.

During 2008 the achievements of the tenacious indigenous and non-indigenous women who forged a path through history were celebrated through an array of commemorative activities.

How the right to vote was won…

In 1891 Victorian women took to the streets, knocking door to door, in cities, towns and across the countryside in the fight for the vote.

They gathered 30,000 signatures on a petition, which was made of pages glued to sewn swathes of calico. The completed petition measured 260m long, and came to be known as the Monster Petition. The Monster Petition is a remarkable document currently housed at the Public Records Office of Victoria.

The Monster Petition was met with continuing opposition from Parliament, which rejected a total of 19 bills from 1889. Victoria had to wait another 17 years until 1908 when the Adult Suffrage Bill was passed which allowed non-indigenous Victorian women to vote.

Universal suffrage for Indigenous men and women in Australia was achieved 57 years later, in 1965.

This story gives an overview of the Women’s Suffrage movement in Victoria including key participants Vida Goldstein and Miles Franklin, and the 1891 Monster Petition. It documents commemorative activities such as the creation of the Great Petition Sculpture by artists Susan Hewitt and Penelope Lee, work by artists Bindi Cole, Louise Bufardeci, and Fern Smith, and community activities involving Kavisha Mazzella, the Dallas Neighbourhood House, the Victorian Women Vote 1908 – 2008 banner project, and much more…

Further information can be found at the State Library of Victoria's Ergo site. Women's Rights

Learn more about the petition and search for your family members on the Original Monster Petition site at the Parliament of Victoria.

Contribute your story to the Public Record Office Victoria Wiki

Investigate the Office of Women's Policy Projects and fact sheets

You can also watch ACMI videos of 'first' women talking about 100 Years of Victorian Women's Right to Vote.