Ipswich’s history of assertive women

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Ellen Jordan

Ipswich is, and always has been home to an array of amazing women in the fields of sports, politics, academia, business and more.

One of the most inspirational women to call Ipswich home was Ellen Jordan OAM (known as Vi) – Ipswich’s first female alderman, the first Labor woman elected to Queensland Parliament and the first woman to chair a Parliament in Australia. Born in Ipswich in 1913, Ms Jordan was the daughter of Jane Brown and James Perrett, an Ipswich Railway Workshops fitter. Her father was Secretary of the Iron Workers’ Union, so she was exposed to union environment at a young age.

Educated at Brassall State School and Ipswich Girls Grammar, Vi went on to marry David Jordan (a railway porter) at age 18.

Her political career began in 1961 when elected as an alderman of the Ipswich City Council.

She held this position for almost six years. Joining the Labor party in 1946, she went on to become the ALP Inaugural President for the Women’s Central Committee Queensland from 1956 to 1967. She was also the Inaugural President of the Australian ALP Women’s Executive from 1974 to 1976. Most notably, Vi became the ALP Member for Ipswich West from May 1966 to 7 December 1974. Career aside, Vi was a strong member amongst the social and sporting community and most importantly, a strong advocate for women and social justice issues – strongly campaigning for equal pay for women. She pathed the way for many women to come and is why the newly formed electorate of Jordan is named after her.

Fast forward to 2018, Ipswich is still producing some of the most influential women in Australia – including (but certainly not limited to):

Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland
Charis Mullen, State Member for Jordan
Jennifer Howard, State Member for Ipswich
Ali Brigginshaw, five eighth for the Jillaroos
Ashleigh Barty, best ranked female tennis player in Australia and ranked 17th in the WTA
Leah Neale, Olympic freestyle swimmer
Cheryl Bromage, Kerry Silver, Kylie Stoneman and Sheila Ireland, Ipswich City Councillors
Raynuha Sinnathamby, Managing Director for Springfield Land Corporation
Wing Commander Rosemary Dyke, Executive Officer at RAAF Amberley
Anne-Marie Walton, ‘Wantu’ App Developer and Manager of Fire Station 101

Information sourced from the Ipswich Library.