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The Australian National University

Research opportunity with Beryl Women Inc.

Beryl Women Inc. provides  supportive crisis accommodation to women/children escaping domestic/family violence.

The organisation will be celebrating its 40th birthday next year, and is seeking a researcher to undertake the project of recording its history.

Background: On 8th of March1975, International Women’s Day,  Canberra Women’s Refuge was officially opened by Mrs Pat Bryant wife of the then minister for the territory. She handed the keys to Ms Beryl Henderson. The first group of volunteers had been trained and started the first 24 hr. roster.

Beryl was established as a feminist collective, as were many of the women’s services that followed. It came about in the time of the women’s liberation movement, which strongly informed its approach and philosophy. Being a collective meant that everyone working there, whether paid or not, had equal decision making power.

It was the first women's refuge in Canberra at that time and was located in a house in Watson which was provided rent free by the Department of the Capital Territory .

In Early 1979, the refuge was renamed Beryl Women's Refuge in admiration of Beryl Henderson who said the following at the opening ceremony of the refuge in 1975:

“We don’t pretend to offer a simple permanent solution to anyone’s problems. 
We can only be a half-way house.  We might tie up some wounds, get a doctor, a lawyer, arrange a marriage counsellor – we can offer a bit of peace and quiet – let a women talk if she wants to – not talk if she doesn’t want to.  Get her frightened children to sleep and so on.  I’m sure you agree with me this is a very sobering occasion when you think why we are here.  We really look at the sort of society we live in, as the French President said “In the  beginning was slavery.  The first slave was a woman” Beryl went on to say “and we haven’t really thrown it off yet.  A slave has not possessions, no money, is subject to physical assault including rape, can never say this is my own place”.

If you are interested in conducting this research project please contact Robyn Martin, Manager on 623306900 or




Beyond ANU

Date posted

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Updated:  7 November 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute