Photograph - Vida Goldstein
Vida Goldstein selling "Votes for Women" newspaper,
State Library of Victoria,
Vida Goldstein was the most famous, and important women's activist in Australia in the first decades of the twentieth century. She was a life-long pacifist and a strong opponent of conscription during World War One.
Goldstein was born in 1869, the daughter of Isabella Goldstein, who became a prominent Melbourne suffragist. From the 1890s Vida joined this work and was soon one of the most active and influential members of the women’s movement. Goldstein was especially important in winning the right for women to vote in Victorian state elections in 1908. Vida also ran for office, becoming the first woman to stand for federal parliament in 1903 as a Senate candidate. She also ran – unsuccessfully – for the Senate in 1910 and 1917, and the House of Representatives in 1913 and 1914.
Not only were women’s groups amongst the first to oppose the war, they were the first to suffer censorship. In September 1914 a small military detachment raided the offices of Vida Goldstein’s paper, the WomanVoter, to try to force her to stop publication. When Goldstein, supported by labour newspapers, complained to the incoming Labor Minister for Defence about this censorship, he replied that such censorship was not the new Labor government’s policy. Nonetheless, shortly afterwards the War Precautions Act was passed, allowing just that.
Despite the success of the anti-conscription campaigns, Goldstein’s activity took a heavy toll. She had lost the political support of the pro-war members of the Women’s Political Association – by the end of the War there was no difference in membership of the two WPAs – and her newspaper, the Woman Voter, had a large debt. Goldstein turned her attention more fully to causes of pacifism and internationalism, but never regained the public prominence that she had before and during World War One. Vida Goldstein died in 1949
Australia and World War One
Photograph - Send-off to the Brunswick Soldiers
Photograph - Brunswick Town Hall Honour Board
Memorial Plaque - Leonard William Telford
Poster - 'Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men'
Labour Activists of Brunswick and Coburg
Photograph - Frank Anstey
Photograph - John Curtin
Photograph - Frank Hyett
Photograph - Maurice Blackburn
The Trade Unions' Anti-conscription Campaign
Handbill - 'The Blood Vote'
Cartoon - 'The Charge of the Would to God Brigade'
Handbill - Slave Conspiracy
The Women's Movement During the War
Photograph - Vida Goldstein
Photograph - Adela Pankhurst
Handbill - Conscription and Woman's Loyalty
Photograph - 'Women's No Conscription Demonstration'
Bella Lavender - Brunswick Campaigner
Photograph - Bella Lavender
Cartoon - Bella Lavender
Letter - Bella Lavender to Education Department
Photograph - Labor Women's Anti-conscription Committee
Religious Perspectives on Conscription
Handbill - Conscription and Christianity
Handbill - Conscription Questions for Voters
Handbill - How Would Christ Vote?
The Catholic Church and Conscription
Photograph - Daniel Mannix
Article - Cause of the War
Article - Revolt Victims
Cartoon - Australian Workman's Burden
Brunswick and Coburg During the Campaigns
Article - No Anti-conscription Meetings in Brunswick
Handbill - Public Meeting Against Conscription
Advertisement - Recruitment Meeting
Article - Remarkably Quiet Day
The Two Referendums
Handbill - Vote Thus Against Conscription
Article - Military Service Referendum Poll
Article - Conscription. Mr Hughes in Queensland
Article - 'Bourke'
The Soldiers' Votes
Diary - Claude Ewart
Photograph - Jack and Bert Grinton
Handbill - Returned Soldiers' No Conscription League Manifesto
Photograph - Soldiers Voting
Consequences for the Campaigners
Inscription - Police Just Raided
Article - 'Failure to Enrol'
Letter - Adela Pankhurst to Sallie Walsh
Article - 'Serenading Miss Pankhurst'
Story education resources
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Education Resource
The Against The Odds Education Resource provides a stimulating range of activities for students undertaking the compulsory Victorian History Curriculum Level 9/10 unit Australia at war (1914 – 1945). It helps students reflect on the complexities of the conscription debate through a range of analytical, creative and research tasks.
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map
The Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map is a map of some of the sites described in the digital story or related to individuals therein. Download the map to use it for a self-guided tour in the area.