Reprint: A Distinguished Australian Woman

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It is rather amusing in reading the list of distinguished Australians whose portraits are to be placed in the Commonwealth Gallery, to find not one woman's name.

It is true that, in the making of Australia, the women who have contributed the most are those whose names are unknown to the public, though their memories are enshrined in the hearts of friends and families. They are women who have quietly taken their share of the burden, and walked shoulder to shoulder with their husbands through all the dangers of a new land; they are pioneer women who have bravely faced, and are still facing, the hardships and loneliness of the bush; they are the women who have worked unobtrusively at the making of good citizens; and for such women the nation itself is a monument, for without their part, the nation could not have come into being.

But out of the whole brave army of silent women there are a few who stand out as leaders, and those names are known to all. They are the women who have cut a path through the network of prejudice, and "blazed the trail" for their sisters following on behind them; and they have earned the right to the title of "distinguished Australians."

The first of these names which will come to every mind is that of Catherine Helen Spence, the "grand old woman" of Australia. Our State Children's Relief Departments stand in every state as an undying monument to Catherine Spence, and generations of children throughout the years will have cause to bless her name, which is known throughout the world. There was never politician yet who more nobly earned a place amongst the "distinguished Australians."

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May 1912

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 30, 2012 9:09 AM.

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