Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Women’s achievements set in stone

In recognition of the achievements of those Australians, who achieved for women both the right to vote and stand in national elections, a Centenary of Women’s Suffrage Commemorative Fountain and Suffrage Walk was unveiled in Canberra today.

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, Senator Kay Patterson, today officiated at the ceremony at Old Parliament House, which was attended by many of the women who are celebrated by the fountain and walk.

The fountain and walk pay tribute to the efforts of many Australian women who made a positive and lasting contribution to our community. Inspirational women such as Dame Enid Lyons, elected to the House of Representatives in 1943 and the first woman in Cabinet, is just one example, Senator Patterson said.

The walk features a timeline of key milestones commemorating significant events since the passing of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, which granted Australian women the right to vote and stand in Commonwealth elections. We should be proud of the fact that Australia was the first nation in the world where women were offered both the right to vote and the right to stand.

The fountain features several water jets and a water weir, as well as a paved walkway, which will link the entrance to the House of Representatives Garden through to Constitution Place.

The rectangular water feature is lined with tens of thousands of vibrant mosaic tiles all individually placed.

The border of the water feature records the passing of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 and commemoration of the 1903 election, in which women voted for the first time.

I announced this commemorative fountain in November 2003 and I am pleased to see our aspirations and planning come to fruition.

The monument is a permanent symbol of the legacy of the pioneering role of the Australian women who paved the way for the women of today to continue their dynamic involvement in our country’s evolution, Senator Patterson said.