Recently in conversation with ANU historian, Chris Wallace, one of the founders of the Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL), Iola Mathews, shared her experiences of the heady days of second-wave feminism which heralded immense changes at home and work for Australian women. A one-time journalist with The Age, Iola was at the forefront of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ (ACTU) advocacy for women workers through her negotiations on the Hawke government’s Prices and Incomes Accord with unions. In outlining the contributions of many people including Joan Kirner (later a Premier of Victoria), Beatrice Faust (founding member of WEL), and Jan Marsh (ACTU advocate), Iola also spoke highly of the support of former ACTU President, Bill Kelty, describing him as “one of the unsung heroes of the women’s movement”. Much of Iola’s busy personal and professional life is laid out in her book, Winning for Women: A Personal Story, which covers a lot about her work; the experiences which led her to women’s advocacy; and a very hectic personal life, including through her marriage to Race Mathews who was an adviser to Gough Whitlam, and later a parliamentarian at federal and state levels.
Geri Bryant-Badham is a Canberra-based freelance researcher and journalist.
Geri has substantial experience in advocacy, policy and organising and managing projects, including handling budgets and finances. She has worked in various offices for a small business, a university and in the parliamentary, political, government and non-government sectors.