The Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women (now BPW Australia) was formed in 1947 as an umbrella body for the then six existing Business and Professional Women's Clubs across the country. The first Club had been formed in Melbourne in 1925. Membership was initially open to women holding responsible positions in a professional, business, industrial or educational organisation, and to women giving distinguished service to the community. It thus largely represented the interests of middle-class women. It is now open to women in the workforce more broadly.
The Federation was very involved in campaigning for equal pay and equal opportunities for women in employment. By 1980 the number of clubs in the Federation rose to almost 100, representing over 3500 members, although it has since declined. Since its inception the Federation has been affiliated with the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (now BPW International). The Federation continues to work to elevate the status of women generally, remove discrimination and to present the views of business and professional women to government.
It still also operates to provide a space for women's networking.
Issues of equal pay and opportunity have historically been the primary concerns of the Federation, and, from the 1950s to 1960s, they brough three cases before the Commonwealth Industrial Courts on the issue of equal pay. In 1978 they brought a test case for unpaid maternity leave.
They have also been active on numerous other issues, such as: jury service for women; uniform divorce laws; removal of the marriage bar; provisions for child care; sole parent benefits; the establishment of the National Women's Advisory Council and encouraging women to a great role in politics.
It has also supported various United Nations projects and has been active in encouraging girls to continue with higher education.
As of 2004, the BPW Australia website described itself thus:
* a federation of affiliated Clubs and Members at Large;
* nonpartisan and promotes aims and objectives without distinctions as to race, language or religion;
* the voice of women in the paid and unpaid workforce;
* affiliated with BPW International, which is represented by Clubs and Affiliated members in over one hundred countries worldwide;
* in partnership with organisations worldwide expanding its representation to over ten million women
Vision Statement To achieve a just and equal status for women in all levels and areas of society where decisions are taken in true partnership with men, based on mutual respect, for a more balanced and peaceful world.
Mission Statement Knowledge is power, Power is a means of influencing future policies, Policies affect the lives of women, men and children.
BPW International works to develop a comprehensive framework of structures to provide the necessary education, training and opportunities for women to achieve economic independence and assume their rightful place in work and business, the professions and in all decision-making process.
BPW is the organisation for women in the workforce
Aims and Objectives
To organise business and professional women in all parts of Australia for the attainment of the following objectives:
* High standard of service in business and professions
* Stimulate and encourage in women a realisation and acceptance of their responsibilities to the community - locally, nationally and internationally
* Encourage women and girls to:
* acquire occupational training and advanced education
* use their occupational capacities and intelligence for the advantage of others as well as themselves
* Work for
* equal opportunities for women in the economic, political, social and cultural life of Australia
* the elevation of the status of women
* the removal of discrimination
* Promote world-wide co-operation between business and professional women of all ages
*To collect and present the views of business and professional women to the public, government, local authorities and business, to the Division and to the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women's aims and objectives.
*To promote any other objectives in keeping with the aims which the Club considers desirable.
BPW Australia representatives actively participate in the consultative and policy process of government.
Ad hoc Committees are formed from time to time to deal with specific issues that may arise.'
View the full record at
Australian Women's Register