Today we pay tribute to one of Victoria’s great feminist leaders, Dr Beatrice Faust AO, who sadly passed away yesterday. Beatrice tirelessly advocated for women’s rights and equality in government policy and for the right to abortion, amongst many other achievements. We recognise her contribution to making Victoria a more gender equal state.
Beatrice, or Bea, was most known for her work influencing revolutionary change in women’s policy at a federal and state level being the founder of the Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) and co-founder of Victorian Council for Civil Liberties (today Liberty Victoria), creating accountability to governments to have dedicated women’s policy and a gender analysis.
Bea was one of the first women to campaign for civil liberties, abortion law reform and sex education in Australia, and was the president of the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA). She authored books of feminist theory including backlash and feminism – a book which is still relevant today as gender equity advocates experience backlash when promoting women’s rights and freedom from violence.
“Today we are fortunate to have a policy context that recognises gender as a social determinant of health and advocates for gender inequality both within the Victorian Government Cabinet and through government policy. Without Beatrice, we would not be seeing the level of progress we see in Victoria,” said Tanja Kovac, Chief Executive Officer, Gender Equity Victoria.
“Beatrice knew that there was so much more to do. We will continue to build on her advocacy for women’s inclusion in government policy, especially in achieving greater economic security for Victorian women,” said Kovac.
Beatrice was an inductee to the Victorian Women’s Honour roll in 2001, and appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2005. She was rightfully recognised for her achievements as a courageous feminist leader.