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Transcript of Jessie Street
About Jessie Street
Jessie Mary Grey Lillingston Street was born in Ranchi, in Bihar, India on 18 April 1889. She came to Australia in 1896 when her mother inherited the family property, Yugilbar station, on the Clarence River, near Grafton NSW. The eldest child, Jessie was educated by governesses and at Wycombe Abbey, a progressive school for girls in Buckingham shire, UK. Jessie Street was an Australian suffragette, feminist and human rights campaigner. She was a key figure in Australian political life for over 50 years, from the women's suffrage struggle in England to the removal of Australia's constitutional discrimination against Aboriginal people in 1967. She is recognized both in Australia and internationally for her activism in women's rights, social justice and peace.
What Jessie did to earn her respect
Jessie Street stood up for what is believed in, such as General peace and social justice, Political involvement, Women's rights, Aboriginal rights.
General peace and social justice
She was a co-founder of NSW Social Hygiene Association (1916) and was a foundation member of the Sydney Branch of the League of Nations Union in 1918. She attended League of Nations Assemblies in Geneva in 1930 and 1938. She was a colleague of Pablo Picasso on the World Peace Council Executive. During the Second World War she was chairman of the Russian Medical Aid and Comforts Fund
Jessie Street stood as the Labor candidate for the safe conservative seat of Wentworth in NSW at the 1943 federal election. The electoral result saw Street achieve a 20 percent primary and 14 percent two-party swing, falling less than two percent short of securing a majority of votes, and subsequently lost to the sitting United Australia Party member Eric Harrison. Eric Harrison stood with his back to Jessie whilst she gave her concession speech and refused to shake her hand.
Jessie Street campaigned for equality of status for women, equal pay, appointment by women to public office and their election to parliament. In 1911 she attended a conference of the International Council for Women in Rome. She was also co-founder (1928) and President of United Associations of Women. Jessie was the only Australian woman delegate at the founding of the United Nations in 1945 and established (co-founder of) the UN Commission of the Status of Women and Charter of women's rights
Apparently inspired by the British Anti-Slavery Society when visiting England in the 1950s, Jessie Street was the initiator of the 1967 "Aboriginal" amendment of the Australian Constitution with fellow activist Faith Bandler. She "masterminded the formation of the Aboriginal Rights Organization, which led to the successful" Australian referendum, 1967 (Aboriginals) and even drafted petitions calling for the Referendum.Jessie Street published a number of papers relating to Aboriginal people based on her observations during her numerous visits to Aboriginal Settlements. These include a Report on Aborigines in Australia, May 1957, Report of visit to Pindar Camps,'Report of visit to West Australia in connection with Aborigines'; 'Suggestions for Northern Territory' (Between Camooweal and Darwin); Comments on the 'Report from the Select Committee of Voting Rights of Aborigines'; and 'The question of discrimination's against Aborigines and the United Nations.
In 1988 an organizing committee came together to celebrate the centenary of one of the foremost but relatively unknown 20th century Australian activists, Jessie Street. Events included: a conference (from which a book was published), tribute speeches in Parliament, and an Australia Post commemorative envelope – the first ever for an Australian woman. In April 1989, on her 100th birthday, a lunch was held for Jessie in the NSW Parliamentary Dining Room. This began the annual fund raising event. Such was the response from women everywhere, and from the Street family, that the committee established the Jessie Street Trust to hold an annual birthday lunch, through which funds are raised to provide seeding grants. Jessie often used her own money to support causes she cared about. The Trust continues the tradition by awarding an annual grant to assist activities Jessie championed, including the rights of women and indigenous people, peace and disarmament, and the elimination of discrimination.
Jessie Street Trust