Youthful arrogance is not limited to eras, individuals or generations. It permeates political movements, particularly where past oppression and greater disadvantage colour the work and its record. History reflects this for women in all periods, all battles. Conventional history, ways of working, and recording herstory colour women’s demands through centuries and how women’s campaigns are see.
Most of the work of the probate campaign (except in Queensland, where Gold Coast WEL took on the load) fell to me, but would have been impossible without the total support of WEL during the three to four years it ran. For a woman who had felt she was alone in a fight against inequality and put-downs of women, it was like ‘coming home’ for me to find in WEL so many women who understood the nature of the problem I had railed against for years.
… 1972 had been an extremely traumatic year. Separated from my children, I was often in despair. When meetings closed, usually in the early hours of the morning, I was left alone to cry myself to sleep: no future, no place to go. Too ‘working-class’ proud to ask for charity, I fed the baby sugar-water while humourously describing my latest battle with welfare. During the first nine weeks I received only two $10.00 food vouchers. Few women at the meetings noticed. I understand, but still resent, the pressures put on me to ‘move on’. Three or four weeks is insufficient time for a woman in crisis to get back on her feet.
The land rights movement would not have survived had it not been for the role of Aboriginal women … [T]he strength of nameless hundreds of women, tempered by years of direct conflict with bureaucracies (police, welfare agencies, schools) in defence of their children, played an important role in the development of Aboriginal organisations and the general demand for land rights. Yet while the land rights issue has passed from the hands of the young male miltants of the late 1960s and early 1970s to the National Aborignal Conference (predominantly mature males), Aboriginal women have consistently demanded that the needs of women be taken into account in land rights …