D'Aprano was an active unionist and an activist in the women's movement. She chained herself across the doors of the Commonwealth Building and later the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in Melbourne, Victoria in protest against the inadequacy of the decision on the Equal Pay case in 1969. D'Aprano was one of the initiators of the Women's Action Committee in 1970, and the Women's Liberation Movement in Melbourne in 1971. She is a current member of the Australian Women's Party and was a member of the Communist Party of Australia from 1950-1971.
Doctor of Laws honoris causa, Macquarie University, 2000. Left school aged 14. Married at 16. Resumed study aged 37, and completed the Leaving Certificate in 1963. Worked as a machininst in the clothing trade. Qualified as a dental nurse in 1961 and worked in this capacity at Larundel Psychiatric Hospital for 15 years. Qualified in Chiropody in 1967. Employed as a clerk in the Meat Industry Union, and as a mail sorter at the General Post Office. D'Aprano was involved in campaigns around Equal Pay for women, the gender-bar at public bars, the Miss Teenage Quest, entitlements of pregnant workers and women's participation in left-wing and workers' movements. D'Aprano was also involved in establishing the Women's Liberation Centre in Little Latrobe St, Melbourne, and was a representative of the Women's Liberation Movement on the International Women's Year committee, 1975. She self-published an autobiography, 'Zelda: the Becoming of a Woman' in 1977; republished by Spinifex Press as 'Zelda' in 1995; Spinifex also published D'Aprano's 'Kath Williams - The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay,' in 2001. D'Aprano has spoken in numerous forums around Melbourne, as well as on radio and at conferences and has written many articles for magazines, particularly the Women's Liberation Newsletter. In 1995 she received a Special Mention Award from the Centre for Australian Cultural Studies (Canberra) for 'An Outstanding Contribution to Australian Culture'.
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Australian Women's Register
Zelda D'Aprano was born in Carlton, Melbourne, in 1928 of Jewish working-class parents and her early life was a constant battle against poverty, ignorance and discrimination. She left school at 14, married at 16 and soon after gave birth to a daughter. Subsequently D'Aprano worked and qualified as a dental nurse at Larundel Hospital and became female staff shop steward for the Hospital Employees' Union No.2 Branch. She left Larundel after 15 years. She was employed in the Meat Industry Employees' Union office when the union was involved in the 1969 Equal Pay case. It was her experiences in the workforce, trade unions and left-wing politics which defined her political activism. This culminated in her most famous act, that of chaining herself to the Commonwealth Building in October 1969 in protest at women's unequal pay. A prominent feminist, D'Aprano related her career and life in the autobiography 'Zelda: The Becoming of a Woman' (Melbourne, 1977; new edition 'Zelda' 1995). She was appointed AO in 2005.
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University of Melbourne