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Celebrating Women Teachers – the 62nd Pioneer Women’s Ceremony

January 30 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The National Council of Women Victoria celebrates Victoria’s pioneer women, past and present at this annual event.

As 2022-23 is the 150th Anniversary of Free, Secular and Compulsory Education in Victoria, our focus will be on pioneering women teachers. Dr Deborah Towns OAM, co-author of A Secondary Education For All? A History of State Secondary Schooling in Victoria and author of articles on education and teachers in Government, Independent and Catholic schools, will highlight women pioneers in education and early schools in Victoria.

Deborah will begin by recognising that before white people settled in Australia, and established schools and worked as teachers, Aboriginal men and women had taught their culture to the next generation. For centuries their elders taught traditions, skills, and beliefs through sophisticated oral teaching and technical experience. In a few early colonial schools and missions, Aboriginal children were taught how to read and write in English and were forcefully encouraged to ignore traditional Aboriginal culture. Later some worked as assistant teachers and then were trained in teachers’ colleges. This continues and there are Aboriginal women leading as teachers and in educational management in schools and universities. Today education for Indigenous students and education about Indigenous lifestyles, histories, language, and culture are increasingly taught to all
students and embedded in key educational documents.

Celebrating other women’s pioneering activities in education will follow. Religious women in Catholic Education showed remarkable leadership in the early years of Australia’s colonisation, often teaching in challenging conditions as well as establishing and heading up large schools. Other pioneering women established private single sex and coeducational schools, some of which are well into their second century today. In the government system women taught in large city schools and one teacher schools in rural areas over a century ago. They even taught in the gold fields in tents.

Over time women got equal pay and became heads of coeducational high schools. In recent decades they head up single-sex boys’ schools and manage state and national education departments which would have been considered impossible 150 years ago. Women pioneered the first kindergartens recognising the significance of early years learning over a century ago. These women and their pioneering activities will be described and celebrated.

Photo: Dr Deborah Towns OAM (on right) with Kara Krushe, Project Manager of the 150 Years of Public Education Project, Department of Education and Training, Victoria.

This is a COVID safe event, with distancing and sanitising included. Chairs, canopies and water will be provided, but please bring your own water bottle/cup. Melway Map: 2G A10

Please notify NCWV of your attendance on info@ncwvic.org.au so we have enough chairs.


January 30
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


National Council of Women Victoria
0478 783 489


Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden
Kings Domain
Melbourne, VIC 3004 Australia
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