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Department of Human Services

Celebrating 120 years of women’s suffrage in South Australia


The 120th anniversary of the first South Australian election that included women voters is recognised today, Monday 25 April, 2016. 

Women gained the right to vote and to stand for Parliament in South Australia when the Adult Suffrage Bill passed on 18 December 1894.

South Australia was the first state in Australia and the second jurisdiction in the world to give women the vote. This was thanks to the dedication of many women, including Mary Lee and Catherine Helen Spence.

The South Australian Women's Suffrage League campaigned to give a political voice to the women of South Australia, and presented a petition of more than 11,600 signatures to Parliament in support of women's suffrage.

South Australia continues to be a leader in promoting gender equality. The government's women's policy, 'Achieving women's equality' aims to ensure all women and girls can fully participate in and share the benefits of living in South Australia.


The campaign for women's suffrage began in the 1880s.

The South Australian Women's Suffrage League was established in 1888 by women who were convinced that they could only achieve legislation that was fairer to women if women had a voice.

The first election in Australia to include women voters was the South Australian state election on 25 April 1896.

South Australia was the second jurisdiction in the world, after New Zealand, to give women the right to vote, and the first in the world to give women the right to stand for Parliament.

Acting Status of Women Minister Leesa Vlahos said:

I am proud of South Australia's history as the first state in Australia with a Parliament elected by both men and women.

The suffragettes of the 1880s were concerned about the social and economic difficulties many women faced, and strongly believed that women should be involved in making laws.

South Australia has been a leader in promoting gender equality for more than 120 years.

The South Australian government has done much to continue the progress towards gender equality, most recently through its women's policy 'Achieving women's equality'.

The State Government is committed to improving women's economic status, increasing women's participation and leadership and improving women's safety and wellbeing.

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SA Department for Human Services
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
17 Dec 2018
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