Articles:

Edith Cowan’s Enduring Legacy of Social Justice

Portrait of Edith Cowan

Edith Cowan made an inaugural address to Parliament a century ago. Her tireless work furthering the rights of women and children formed an important legacy, one which continues to underpin the Western Australian Justice System.

This year, the month of July in fact, marks the 100th anniversary of Edith Cowan’s inaugural address to Western Australian Parliament. She was the first woman to be elected to Parliament in Australia, a year after the Western Australian Parliament passed legislation allowing women to stand for Parliament. 

Her life was spent championing the rights of women and children. And she used her political platform to further these aims through legislation, advocating for child endowment payments to mothers, and day nurseries for working women.

Making laws to improve the lives of women

She was also successful in passing her landmark Women’s Legal Status Bill in 1923, but her support of this controversial bill cost her the support of her party, and her political career ended after only one term. Another of her Private Member’s Bills which was successfully passed gave inheritance rights to women whose adult children died without having made a will and without having had children of their own.

Prior to her time in Parliament, Edith was very involved in social issues facing women and children. She openly campaigned for many issues, even those that were considered ‘taboo’ including domestic violence, drunkenness and spoke openly about venereal disease, prostitution, contraception, illegitimacy and sex crimes.

She campaigned for homes for unwed mothers, a specialist maternity hospital, which later became King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, and was also a strong voice for improving education.

Animals were not beyond her compassion either, and in 1892, Edith Cowan co-founded the RSPCA in Western Australia.

Edith Cowan University

Edith Cowan University

Fighting for Women’s right to vote

In 1894, She helped to establish the Karrakatta Women’s Club. As a founding member, she acted first as its first secretary and later vice-president and president. The literature club encouraged the women of Perth to broaden their horizons by reading authors such as American feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The group has always been considered a significant part of the women’s suffrage movement in Western Australia, which lobbied for women to be able to vote, and finally won the right in 1899.

Also importantly, Edith helped to establish both the Children’s Protection Society in 1906 and its successor, the Children’s Court, in 1907. She went on to become one of the first women to be appointed to the bench of the Children’s Court several years later in 1915. Her focus on early intervention and commitment to rehabilitation, holding a view that children are victims rather than criminals, and should not be tried as adults, principles which underpin the work of the Children’s Court of Western Australia as we know it today.

Edith also campaigned for women to become Justices of the Peace and was made one herself in 1919.

Edith Cowan is well known as the face on Australia’s $50 banknote, but very few Australians are familiar with all of the significant achievements she accomplished throughout her life which shaped and paved the way for many of the rights we have today.

Images sourced from Wikipedia and Flickr.

PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.

Contact our lawyers now

At Andrew Williams Criminal Law we're here to help you with the best legal advice.

Testimonials Hear from our valued Clients

I had Andrew deal with my case recently and couldn't of been happier with the result he got for me. From the start Andrew was quick to reply to any questions and queries I had regarding my matter. He was very professional in my opinion, very easy to talk to and explained things quite well. I felt very comfortable in the courtroom knowing that Andrew wanted to get the best result he could for me, and I would highly recommend Andrew Williams to ...

Colin W

I was on a very tight rope where, if it balanced the wrong way, it would have totally devastated my life. Andrew was honest through the entire process preparing me for the worst but never let me give up and thankfully with his help got a great outcome that let me move forward with my family. I cant praise Andrew enough and recommend him 100%.

...

Jason M

I cannot thank Andrew enough for his support and would not hesitate recommending your service to anyone who would need your help. I am eternally grateful to Andrew Williams who kept me informed as and when he had to and had no doubt in his professionalism. Thank you.

...

Pamela J
Pamela J

Had Andrew defend a reckless driving charge. He gave good solid advice throughout the process and defended me well at the trial. His costs were affordable and he was a great guy in general. The most important thing is we were able to have the charges dismissed via a not guilty verdict. I would recommend him to anyone.

...

Joly M
Joly M

Andrew represented me recently in a few difficult situations. I found him to be very professional, easily contactable and generally wanting a good outcome for me. I've passed his contact info to friends and if I ever need legal representation again I'll definitely be using his services.

...

Ryan B
Ryan B

After making several calls to various law firms, I came across Andrew Williams who was quick to respond providing knowledgeable, honest and friendly legal advice. At all times I felt confident in Andrew's ability to defend the charges. The case went to trial with an outcome of not guilty. I was awarded full legal costs. Could not be happier.

...

Matt K
Matt K

Andrew was fantastic to deal with. His courtroom demeanor and skills were apparent. He was always able to assist with a complex matter across nearly 3 years in rural WA. Would highly recommend his services.

...

Wesley H
Wesley H

Of my limited experiences in the judicial system, I can’t rate Andrew Williams highly enough. He was fantastic on my day in court and was very straight up during my consultations. He is such an awesome person, and the best professional criminal lawyer I have ever encounter. Need help call Andrew.

...

Aaron J

Andrew was brilliant with my case and achieved the best outcome. He was very professional and was very impressive in the submissions he presented to the magistrate. Again, I can't thank you enough Andrew.

...

Danni H

Andrew was very preffesional and welcoming when dealing with my case.

In the court room I felt at ease knowing andrew was representing me.

I would highly reccomend andrew for everyone no matter how big or small the case is!

...

Harry

I was charged with the offence of aggravated common assault. I engaged Andrew Williams to act for me.

From the first time I met Andrew I knew that I was in the right hands. His level of professionalism both in and out of the court room was very impressive. Following a two day trial in the Perth Magistrates Court, I was found not guilty.

Andrew Williams assisted me through a very stressful peri...

Kyran H

Thanks a lot for handling my case and getting the pleasant outcome. Since the first time I talked to you I have known that my case was in a capable hands. I am impressed by your knowledge and confidence which gave me confidence. Cheers.

...

Joe Y

Thank you so much Andrew for grooming me and going over the process over and again. It was a traumatic time for me and you kept me focused. I really appreciate your guidance and we came out with the best result.

I wouldn't of been able to hold up as I did if not for your valued support.

Sincerely, Kyley.

...

Kyley S

Andrew was very approachable, knowledgeable, professional and focused on the best outcome. I would always recommend him.

...

Kieran C

My personal experience with Andrew Williams was a pleasant one from day one. In the midst of a police raid and the inability to find legal representation I considered myself done for when Andrew took the time to call me back after I contacted his office (during which time he was in trial). Upon soliciting some legal advice, Andrew was straight with me and I made an appointment with him in which he clearly explaine...

Franciosco R

My wife and I were so glad that we chose Andrew Williams to handle our sons Reckless Driving charge. What a relief to know we have people like him around to help.

Besides a failure to indicate and cutting the corner of a very sharp S bend in the road all other allegations by Police were not substantiated. After using a previous Law firm that basically told us that it was the 2 Police Office...

George M

I have nothing but good things to say about Andrew and his law services. He helped me more than I could possibly ask for during a difficult time facing the court. He was very efficient and precise and always happy to help and answer questions even last minute and after hours.

I believe he charges a very fair price considering the amount of work he put in for me to achieve the best possible result in cour...

Trent W

I trusted that Andrew was the person to defend my case in our initial contact on the phone. He was very confident in his approach, from the first point of contact to the court room. I believe this must be from years of experience. Another added bonus for Andrew is that he is very honest and fair. He tells you like it is in the book of law and does not appear manipulative. His communicat...

Abraham A

Unhappy with my then representation, I went searching for a new criminal lawyer. Andrew responded quickly and professionally to my enquiry. It was quickly apparent during the first meeting that Andrew was knowledgeable, honest and was committed to getting us the best possible outcome. Andrew looked at all avenues available to me in a Magistrates Court matter. H...

Timothy R

After being charged with Common Assault of a minor I made a sensible decision not to use the local Kununurra law firm. I engaged Andrew Williams to assist me with resolving this matter (to the point of me being awarded costs). Despite being 4000km away I never had any issues with Andrew's commitment to my case. He promptly returned all calls and demanded I do likewise when important information needed to be e...

David C

Andrew Williams is a criminal laywer of much dedication I will never have the words of gratitude and admiration for his honesty and integrity I would highly recommend him to anyone who may require his services in the future

...

Helen M

I just wanted to take my time to explain my experience with Andrew Williams. I had an incident that could have really affected my future. As anyone does I called around all the lawyers in Perth and just not any lawyer but the ones who are highly respected amongst other lawyers and get the results. I have a friend who works in the industry and she recommended Andrew. She said she always sees Andrew in the paper with amazing outcomes to cases th...

Phillip C

Very happy with my representation and fair fees by Andrew, I highly recommend him.

...

Damian A

I found dealing with Andrew Williams Law Firms to be quite pleasant and professional. I have nothing but utmost regard for this firm and would recommend anyone who needs a good criminal lawyer.

...

Andrew H

Go to top