In 1983, women couldn’t have an operation without permission from their husband. Women had no claim to their children in the case of a separation or divorce. There was no such thing as a no-fault divorce. Under these societal and cultural pressures, there were many barriers to women being able to lead empowered lives.
It was at this time that a group of women came together, united by their ambition for women to have more choice in their personal, work and political lives. They had a ‘radical’ vision of a service for women and run by women. The group included:
Janet was long-time volunteer for women’s services (including Statewide Women’s Community Housing Service and the Ecumenical Migration Centre) and the Education Representative of the National Council of Women.
In the 1980s, Philomena was a student activist who also worked at the Women’s Liberation Switchboard. Now, she is a lecturer at the Centre for Women’s Health, and a medical anthropologist with a broad interest in gender, sexuality and sexual health, disability and family violence. Her recent projects include older women’s experiences of sexual assault, and the health status of LGBTI Australians.
Kerry was a member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby and the Local Government Women’s Association.
Kay committed much of her life to serving the Victoria community and campaigning for women’s rights. She was a Victorian parliamentarian who also worked at a one of Victoria’s first women’s refuges.
Rosemary was a Victorian Parliamentarian who worked as a community counsellor.
Drawing on her experience as Barrister, Mediator, Court Registrar, Member of a Federal Appellate Tribunal and Solicitor in Melbourne, Christine Haag specialises in family dispute resolution, having been in family conciliation since 1989. As a founding member of WIRE and Women’s Legal Service and community representative in founding the Victorian Women’s Trust, Christine is also a Cornerstone supporter of the Pride Centre and member of GLOBE, plus politically involved in preserving the Queen Victoria building, now Victorian Women’s Centre.
Fleur’s involvement in the women’s movement from 1973 was highly formative. She’s a proud feminist, family woman, feisty and generous donor who dedicated her life to progressive, social change and feminist philanthropy.
Gracia is one of the first two women elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in 1979. She has continued to be involved in women’s issues, including a term as the president of the National Council of Women (1997–2000), and was listed on the Victorian Honour Roll of Women, 2003.
These remarkable women became the founders of WIRE. Underpinned by a feminist philosophy, WIRE was formed in 1983 through the combined efforts of individual women and organisations in response to the many questions women had, concerning major life choices and their basic human rights. To address these questions women sought complex support and information from a non-judgmental, rights-based perspective to help them find solutions. The same is true today. WIRE was officially opened on 8 March 1984.