HerStory Archive

BEAUREPAIRE, Beryl Edith

Also known as: Dame Beryl Beaurepaire née Bedggood

Born: 24/9/1923

Special Achievements:

A pioneering Australian feminist, Beryl knew how to push boundaries.

Beryl’s first attempts to force acceptance of equality was during World War Two when she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force as a meteorological observer to help ensure the safety of aircraft, both civil and military.

A willingness to challenge existing systems, a sense of social justice, a belief in equal rights and opportunity and a need to contribute to community life led to her becoming one of the most influential women in the Federal Liberal Party.  Beryl has tackled women’s employment, domestic violence, sex discrimination and education issues, among many other issues.

She was the first convenor of the National Women’s Advisory Council, a lobby group of women’s organizations, in 1978; chaired the Women's Sections of both the Victorian (1973-1976), and Federal (1974-1976) Liberal Party organisations and served on its Federal Executive, and from 1976 - 1986, was the Vice-president of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party.  In 1982, Beryl was the first woman appointed to the Council of the Australian War Memorial, and served as chair between 1985 and 1993.

Additional Information:

In 1980, Beryl was awarded The Order of the British Empire - Dames Commander (DBE); 1991: awarded Companion of the Order of Australia (AC); and in 2001: inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

As Lady Mayoress, during her husband's term as Melbourne's Lord Mayor (1965-1967) Beryl threw her energy into community and charity work.  Even after the election of a female councillor, tradition dictated that the Lord Mayor's Dinner was an all male affair, given to acknowledge the contributions of the city's business leaders and public figures. The Lady Mayoress held a separate event for women guests, who could listen to the after dinner speeches from the balcony. During Dame Beryl's tenure as lady Mayoress, the French Consul, who would normally have attended the Lord Mayor's dinner, was not invited because she was a woman. Dame Beryl was infuriated by this rudeness, and campaigned for the tradition to change. Although it took several years change came eventually, during Irving Rockman's tenure (1977-1979). 


Resources

  • Image - Beryl Beaurepaire

    Image courtesy of Beryl Beaurepaire, NPWHF collection