Pioneering suffragist Vida Goldstein has at last been recognised for her contribution to helping Victorian women win the right to vote in 1908.
An artist-designed ornamental seat was today unveiled in Portland – her place of birth – as part of Victorian Women Vote 1908 – 2008 celebrations.
The seat was commissioned by Historic Buildings Restoration Committee, and funded through the Victorian Government’s Centenary of Suffrage grant program and Regional Arts Victoria.
Gayle Tierney, MLC Western Victoria, attending the launch said: “This is a fitting tribute for Vida Goldstein, one of Australia’s leading suffragists”.
“It is entirely appropriate that Vida Goldstein’s contribution to women’s equality has been acknowledged in her home town during this landmark year to celebrate 100 years of most Victorian women winning the right to vote.”
Ms Tierney said that Vida Goldstein assisted in the collection of signatures for the successful 1891 Monster Petition where 30,000 signatures were collected in six weeks across Victoria to demonstrate to Parliament that ordinary women wanted the right to vote.
“Vida Goldstein’s actions marked a turning point in our democracy, forever changing the shape of Victoria.”
“She remained at the forefront of change for women’s rights throughout her life, including becoming the first woman to stand for Parliament in Victoria.”
The seat has been designed by acclaimed local artist, Carmel Wallace.
It takes pride of place in Portland’s historic precinct near the monument that recognises the role of the pioneer women of Portland in the growth of Victoria’s first permanent settlement.
The unveiling was followed by dinner and a keynote speech by Jeanette Bomford who wrote Vida’s biography That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman.
Vida Goldstein’s contribution to the suffrage campaign in Victoria has been recognised this year in Melbourne too.
The Suffrage tram, painted in the suffrage colours of violet, green and white, highlights Vida Goldstein and Annette Bear-Crawford both prominent suffragists. The tram will run on the city circle line until the end of November.
Bio details – Vida Goldstein
Vida Goldstein was born on 13 April 1869, in Portland, Victoria. The Goldsteins moved to Melbourne in 1877. In 1891, she helped her mother collect signatures for the ‘Monster Petition’ for women’s suffrage. In 1902, she travelled to the United States to attend the International Woman Suffrage Conference, and, while there, gave evidence in favour of female suffrage to a committee of the United States Congress. On her return she nominated for election to the Senate, thereby achieving a notable first, though she was unsuccessful at the election of 1903. She made four more unsuccessful attempts: in 1910 and 1917 for the Senate and in 1913 and 1914 for the House of Representatives, always as an independent woman candidate.
She died of cancer at her home in South Yarra on 15 August 1949.
Despite her years of dedication her death passed largely unnoticed, though the League of Women Voters of Victoria endeavoured to establish a scholarship in her name.
Her memory has been revived with the second wave of feminism and in 1984 a federal electorate in Victoria was named Goldstein.