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Our History

The story of the ‘founding mothers’ of WIRE.

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 Horn

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.

Philomena Horsley

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 Lovering

Kerry was a member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby and the Local Government Women’s Association.

Kay Setches

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 Varty

Rosemary was a Victorian Parliamentarian who worked as a community counsellor.

Founding WIRE

These remarkable women became the founding mothers 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.

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