How the personal became political: re-assessing Australia's revolutions in gender and sexuality in the 1970s

Presenter/s: Elizabeth Reid, AO, FASSA, FAIIA - Keynote speaker

Event type: Signature event

Event date: Monday, 6 March 2017 - 9:00am to Tuesday, 7 March 2017 - 5:30pm

Event venue: The Auditorium, China in the World building, ANU

This interdisciplinary 2-day symposium is the ANU Gender Institute Signature Event for 2017 and will celebrate both International Women’s Day and the Institute’s 6th anniversary. See below for full program.

This symposium explores events, transformations, policy changes and watershed developments in gender and sexuality in Australia in the 1970s. These changes were interconnected and profound. The pill became widely available and sexuality was both celebrated and flaunted. Homosexuality was gradually decriminalised state by state. The legality of abortion began to change. Gay liberation and Women’s Liberation movements erupted, and debate raged over provocative books from Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, Dennis Altman’s Homosexual, and Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics to Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will. Activists set up women’s refuges, rape crisis centres, and counselling services. Some governments responded to these changes, appointing women’s and equal opportunity advisors, expanding the role of the state in the provision of childcare and other services. It was a decade of contestation and transformation.

But how and why did matters previously considered private and personal, become public and political? What were the key policy shifts? How were protests in the streets connected to legislative reforms? Who were the critical players and what were the dramatic moments? How was resistance to change manifested, and what fears were articulated? How did differences of race, class, religion, age and locality matter? How did Australia fit into the broader transnational movements for change? What have been the legacies?

The keynote speaker will be Elizabeth Reid (AO, FASSA, FAIIA), the first adviser on women’s affairs to any head of government, appointed by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1973. Ms Reid has since had a distinguished career with the UN and in areas of gender, health and development.

Program and abstracts now available for download below.

There is no charge to attend this event but please register here.

Conveners: Professor Angela Woollacott, ANU, and Assoc. Prof. Michelle Arrow, Macquarie University.

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This event is supported by the Gender Institute and Australian Feminist Studies.

Australian Feminist Studies Special issue



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