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The Nationals Women

The Nationals women have always punched above their weight.

As the one political party that has been looking after the interests of regional Australians for over ninety years, the women in the Party pride themselves on their input and influence into policies and administration.

Late in 1959, largely on the initiative of John McEwen, a Women’s Conference was formed within Federal Council. Very soon after it became know as Women’s Federal Council (WFC). When Doug Anthony took over the Federal Leadership he decided to increase the direct flow of information between WFC and his office. He appointed an executive officer to the WFC in 1973 and introduced the idea of nominating an annual policy study project for WFC. Later, the WFC reports were presented to Federal Council or Conference and, if adopted, to the Federal Parliamentary Party.

From this initiative, one study that was carried out into domestic violence in 1989/90 resulted in The Nationals being the first party to recognise the problems and have a policy written into the Party’s platform.

In 1992, then-President of the WFC, Helen Dickie, presented a controversial women’s policy to Federal Council that was passed unanimously. The Party gained huge publicity in the lead up to the 1993 election. The States later followed with their own women’s policies. Many of the issues in that Policy remain relevant to women to this day.

Today, the WFC considers policy issues, undertakes research and presents motions to Federal Conference and Council, giving greater participation for women in the democratic decision-making process.Membership of The Nationals is open to any Australian who shares the Party’s values and wants to help build a better future for our nation.

Women’s Federal Council provides Australian women with a forum to have a say in the future of their community, State or Territory and the nation.

Women’s Federal Council provides Australian women with a forum to have a say in the future of their community, State or Territory and the nation. The Council generates policy for The Nationals and provides opportunities for women to develop nationwide professional and social networks, and to learn from other proactive and enthusiastic leaders, including The Nationals’ Parliamentarians.

The Nationals recognise that in order for our nation to achieve its full economic, social and political potential, women must have equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process. The Nationals are dedicated to making our democracy as inclusive as possible.

The Women’s Federal Council was established in 1959, largely on the initiative of then Party Leader John McEwen. Today The Nationals support and encourage participation by women in all aspects of the Party, from the local Party branch to taking on leadership roles within the Party organisation or standing for Parliament.

The Women’s Federal Council is chaired by an elected President, who is a member of Federal Management Committee.

The Women’s Federal Council considers policy issues, undertakes research and presents motions and discussion papers to other Federal Committees of the Party and to Federal Council.

To find out more email federal.women@nationals.org.au.

The Nationals support and encourage participation by women in all aspects of the Party or standing for Parliament.

As the one political party that has been looking after the interests of regional Australians for more than ninety years, the women in the Party pride themselves on their input and influence into policies, administration and our federal parliament.Membership of The Nationals is open to any Australian who shares the Party’s values and wants to help build a better future for our nation.

Federal Parliamentarians:

Agnes Robertson, Senator for WA 1955-1962
Lady Flo Bjelke Petersen, Senator for QLD 1981-1993
Hon. De-Anne Kelly, Member for Dawson 1996-2007
Kay Hull, Member for Riverina 1998-2010
Senator Fiona Nash, Senator for NSW 2005-current
Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator for VIC 2011-current


Federal Presidents:

Shirley McKerrow OAM 1981-1987 (First woman elected Federal President of any Australian political party)
Helen Dickie AM 1999-2005
Christine Ferguson (NSW) 2012


State Presidents:

Shirley McKerrow OAM (VIC) 1976-1980
Helen Dickie AM (NSW) 1997-2002
Christine Ferguson (NSW) 2007-2012
Hon. Wendy Duncan MLC (WA) 2004-2008
Dr Jacky Abbott (VIC) 2011-current


Presidents of Women’s Federal Council:

Phyllis Innes (QLD) First President
Ruth Strang (NSW) President 2008-2011
Dr Jacky Abbott (VIC) 2011-current


Presidents of the Federal Young Nationals:

Meredith Dickie 1994-1996
Hon. Sarah Mitchell MLC (nee Johnston) 2009-2011


Federal Directors:

Cecile Ferguson 1992-1997 (First woman appointed Federal Director of any political party)
Gaye White 2000-2002


State Directors:

Helen Tiller (SA) 1978-1983
Jenny Gardiner (NSW) 1984-1991
Meredith Dickie (VIC) 2002-2004
Alison Penfold (NSW) 2007-2008
Mia Davies (WA) 2007
Cathy Wood (WA) 2008
Jacqui Boydell (WA) 2011-current
Jenny Hammett (VIC) 2013-current


Chairmen of John McEwen House Pty Ltd

Shirley McKerrow OAM 1997-current