Categories: This Day In History April 13 | This Day In History August 15 | Portland, Victoria | Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, Victoria | The Women's Federal Political Association | Victoria Politicians | Australian Suffragettes | Victorian Women's Suffrage League | Australian Notables | National Anti-Sweating League | Women's Peace Army | Activists and Reformers.
||Vida Goldstein was a part of the Suffragette Movement.|
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Vida Goldstein was an early Australian feminist politician who campaigned for women's suffrage and social reform. She was the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national parliament
Vida Jane Mary Goldstein was born in Portland, Victoria, her parents were Jacob Goldstein and Isabella (née Hawkins). Her father immigranted from Cork, Ireland, on 10 March 1839 he arrived in Victoria in 1858 and settled at Portland. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Victorian Garrison Artillery in 1867 and rose to the rank of colonel. Her mother was a suffragist, a teetotaller and worked for social reform.
The Goldsteins moved to Melbourne in 1877 Jacob became involved in charitable and social welfare causes, working closely with the Melbourne Charity Organisation Society, the Women's Hospital Committee, the Cheltenham Men's Home and the labour colony at Leongatha.He was an anti-suffragist but he still believed in education and self-reliance. His four daughters were taught by a private governess after which they were sent to Presbyterian Ladies College in 1884 . The family income was affected by the depression in Melbourne during the 1890s, Vida and her sisters, Aileen and Elsie, ran a co-educational preparatory school in St Kilda Victoria. The school opened in 1892, the Ingleton school which was run out of the family home on Alma Road for the next six years
In 1891 Vidas mother Isabella Goldstein recruited Vida to assist in collecting signatures for a women's suffrage petition. She would stay with the women's movement through the 1890s, but her main interest was with her school and urban social causes the National Anti-Sweating League and the Criminology Society.
Vida met Annette Bear-Crawford through this work and they became friends they campaigned for social issues including women's franchise and in organising an appeal for the Queen Victoria Hospital for women. After Annette Bear-Crawford died in 1899 Vida took on a much greater organising and lobbying role for suffrage and became secretary for the United Council for Woman Suffrage. She became a popular public speaker on women's issues, speaking to packed halls around Australia and also Europe and the United States.In 1901 Vida sent a petition to the Austalian Prime minister seeking legislation for female suffrage. In 1902 she travelled to the United States, speaking at the International Women Suffrage Conference it was here she was elected secretary, she gave evidence in favour of female suffrage before a committee of the United States Congress and attended the International Council of Women Conference.
In 1903 Vida was a candidate for the Australian Senate as an Independent becoming the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national parliamentAustralian women had won the right vote in federal elections in 1902 she had the support of the newly formed Women's Federal Political Association,Vida received 51,497 votes (nearly 5% of the total ballots) but failed to secure a Senate seat. This loss made her concentrate on female education and political organisation, which she did through the Women's Political Organization and her monthly journal the Australian Women's Sphere, She stood for parliament again in the years 1910, 1913 and  1914 her fifth and last bid was in 1917 for a Senate seat but she lost votes because of her principle of international peace. Her campaign secretary in 1913 was Doris Blackburn, later elected to the Australian House of Representatives.
During the 1890s to the 1920s Vida Goldstein supported women's rights and including the Victorian Women's Public Servants Association , National Council of Women, and the Women Writers' Club. She also lobbied parliament on issues such as birth control, equal naturalisation laws, equality of property rights, raising the age of marriage consent and the creation of a system of children's courts .
Vida closed the Sphere in 1905,and in 1909 she founded a second newspaper Woman Voter. She used this for her later political campaigns. Vida Goldstein gained a international reputation more than any other Australian suffragist . In early 1911 Vida visited England and her speeches drew huge crowds and her tour was touted as the biggest thing that has happened in the women movement for sometime in England.After her trip in England the foundation of the Australia and New Zealand Women Voters Association was formed, an organisation dedicated to ensuring that the British Parliament would not undermine suffrage laws in the antipodean colonies.
She was quoted as saying that woman represents the mercury in the thermometer of the race. Indigenous women in Australia did not vote they were not believed to be eligible for citizenship or the vote
Vida was a pacifist during the First World War , became chairman of the Peace Alliance and formed the  Womens peace Army in 1915. Adela Pankhurst, recently arrived from England was recruited as an organiser.  Special Appeal by Women to Women Manifesto Australia’s Women’s Peace Army In 1919 she accepted an invitation to represent Australian women at a Women's Peace Conference in Zürich. While she was abroad for three years her public involvement with Australian feminism slowly ended, with the Women's Political Association dissolving and her publications no longer in print she did continued to campaign for a number of public causes
In the last years of her life her focus turned more to her faith as a solution to the world's problems. She helped found the Melbourne church she became very involved with the Christian Science movement . For 20 years she worked as a reader, practitioner and healer of the church. Vida never married despite having many suitors she lived with her two sisters in the last years of her, Aileen who also never married and Elsie a widow..Vida Goldstein was aged 80 when she died of cancer at her home in South Yarra, Victoria on 15 August 1949 . She was cremated and her ashes scattered.
Extract from A letter from suffragette Vida Goldstein
Good Morning Ladies, and the small number of brave men that have arrived. My name is Vida Goldstein and I am proud to be a suffragist.What is a suffragist? A suffragist is a person who campaigns for National Suffrage, the right to vote for all.
The year is 1895 and we are here today protesting because Women in Victoria do not have the right to vote! Our sisters in New Zealand were the first women in the entire world to achieve the vote in 1893. A year later, our fellow female citizens in South Australia also were given the right to vote for local council. But women here in Victoria and women in the rest of Australia still do not have the right to vote for the people who represent them! What makes us any different?
I quote from my sister in suffrage Elizabeth Bennick
Are women citizens?
Yes! When they are required to pay taxes
No! When they ask to vote
Does the law concern women?
Yes! When they are required to obey it
No! When they ask for a voice in the representation of the country
Queens have ruled whole empires, yet other women cannot vote for their local government, let alone state or federal parliament.
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