Victoria’s First Policewoman Honoured

Minister for Police Lisa Neville today joined Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton to pay tribute to Victoria’s first policewoman, Madge Connor, and to recognise her role as a pioneer for women in the force.

A plaque in Ms Connor’s honour was unveiled during a gravesite rededication ceremony at the Boroondara General Cemetery in Kew, as part of the 100-year anniversary of women in policing.

The mother of two worked undercover for Victoria Police after her husband died in 1916. She became the first female police agent the following year and worked on half the pay of a policeman and with no powers of arrest, rights to a pension, uniform or weapon of any kind.

In 1920, Ms Connor led a group of female police and watch-house matrons in a successful fight for increased pay.

After much work, on 12 November 1924, four policewomen were officially sworn in and became the first women to obtain equal pay for equal work – nearly half a century ahead of the equal pay for equal work being enshrined in Australian law.

In 2017, Victoria Police is proud to have more than 4,000 women serving as police offices, and many more public servants, Protective Services Officers and Police Custody Officers.

A third of all police recruits are female and the current recruitment drive for 3,135 new police encourages women to sign up, as part the Labor Government’s push through the Community Safety Statement to improve gender equality within Victoria Police.

Ms Neville also announced the Victoria Police Graves Committee would receive $50,000 to continue its work restoring graves for police officers who have died in the line of duty.

Previous funding from the government and Victoria Police has restored 14 graves.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville

“Madge Connor was a pioneer for women in Victoria Police, an important figure in the state’s history, and a great role model for girls and women.”

“As Victoria’s first female Police Minister, it’s important to me that we celebrate 100 years of women in policing, so that girls and women considering a career with Victoria Police know they have a bright future ahead of them.”

“The Government and Victoria Police’s push to improve gender equality in the force will in turn lead to better services to the community.”