Dare, Zara (1886-1965)

Field of activity
Policewoman
NLA Persistent Identifier
https://nla.gov.au/nla.party-766094

Biographies

Zara Dare was 45 years-old when she applied for a position as a Queensland police officer. She had previously worked in China for the Salvation Army and, upon returning to Australia, she was an organiser of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Zara and her colleague, Ellen O'Donnell, commenced at the Roma Street Police Station in 1931. Neither of the women was sworn in and therefore did not receive the same pay allowances and privileges (including superannuation) as male officers. Zara's work within the police force was restricted to looking after lost children, escorting female prisoners, and working with victims of domestic and sexual violence. Nine years after joining the police force, Zara retired to marry. It was not until 1965 that Queensland police women were officially sworn in and therefore entitled to some of the privileges enjoyed by men.

The National Council of Women of Queensland (NCWQ) in 1911 drew attention to the need for women and girls in Queensland to be better served in matters of crime. There were no female police officers in Australia at the time and the NCWQ called for women, experienced and educated in social work, to be given the status of police officers. The appointment of two female police in New South Wales in 1915 was not enough to encourage the Queensland Commissioner of Police William Cahill to follow suit. By 1917 Queensland was the only state without female police. Newspapers and community groups began asking why. The Queensland Country Women's Association (QCWA), the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, James Duhig, the NCWQ and the Queensland Women's Electoral League (QWEL) all called for the appointment of women in policing.

It was not until Irene Longman was elected to State Parliament in 1929 that the opposition to female police began to be broken down. As past president of the NCWQ and a member of the QWEL, Irene made a submission to cabinet in 1930, outlining the necessity for women to handle sensitive cases such as children, girls and women who have been involved in sexual assault cases. Although the decision was not unanimous, Cabinet consented to the appointment of women in the police force.

Zara Dare, along with Ellen O'Donnell, accepted the offer of positions and the women were based at the Roma Street police station. When the time came to review their appointments and make them permanent, the Police commissioner William Ryan stated that they were well paid for the job they were doing, and although there was nothing under the 1898 to stop them from being sworn in, he considered that their swearing in would reduce the number of male police constables by two. Zara kept her job by agreeing not to be sworn in. She never received the pay allowances and privileges of her fellow police, nor superannuation.

The NCWQ continued to lobby to have Zara and Ellen made permanent, but Police Commissioner Ryan made it clear that if they were not satisfied, they were free to resign at any time. When Zara resigned from the police force to marry, the noted her departure with a small article, headlined "Policewoman Wanted". A women's police unit, attached to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), was established soon after Zara's resignation.

View the full record at Australian Women's Register

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Resources for Zara Dare

Selected resources (6)

Australian Women's Register

  1. Dare, Zara
    Published: National Foundation for Australian Women
    Series: IspartOf The Australian Women's Register
  2. Ellen O'Donnell and Zara Dare: Queensland's first policewomen
    Grant, Heather
    [Brisbane]
    Published: State of Queensland
    Series: IspartOf Great Queensland WomenOffice for Women, Queensland Government
  3. Zara Dare (1886 - 1965)
    Grant, Heather
    [Brisbane]
    Published: State of Queensland
    Series: IspartOf Our Women Our State: a pictorial history of women's contributions to Queensland, 1859 – 2009Office for Women, Queensland Government
  4. Journey to equality: an illustrated history of women in the Queensland Police
    Prenzler, Tim, Jones, Lisa, Ronken, Carol
    [Brisbane]
    Published: Queensland Police Service
  5. 50 Firsts: Queensland Policewomen at Work
    Queensland State Archives
    [Brisbane]
    Published: Queensland State Archives
    Series: IspartOf Queensland FirstsState of Queensland
  6. Police Service File
    [18 December 1930]
    Series: Queensland State Archives
    Police Staff File: DARE Zara Departmental Numbers AF4533
    Series ID: 1108: Item ID: 567027

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  1. O'Donnell, Ellen (1896-1963)
    Policewoman
    ... Dare, Zara (1886 - 1965) ... In 1931, Ellen O'Donnell, along with Zara Dare, became Queensland's first female police officer ... , Cabinet consented to the appointment of women in the police force. Ellen O'Donnell, along with Zara Dare ...
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  2. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Queensland (1885-)
    ... Dare, Zara (1886 - 1965) ... believed that power at the ballot box was the only way to achieve their goals. At its first meeting in 1886 ...
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  1. Miss Zara Dare Policewoman's Experiences
    The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947) Friday 27 February 1931 p 9 Article
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  2. " Princess Zara."
    The Nowra Leader (NSW : 1909 - 1939) Friday 2 November 1923 p 5 Article
    ... " Princess Zara.' , Undor tho direction of Mrs. M'Gowan, the younger members of the Methodist ... Church, produced the cantata " Princess Zara " in the Nowra School of Arts on Thursday and Friday night ... 448 words
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  3. OBITUARY Mrs May Dare
    Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW : 1914 - 1949) Saturday 19 May 1945 p 2 Article
    ... A ? OBITUARY , j - Mrs May Dare The funeral took place at Tweed Heads yesterdays ... Mrs May Dare (47)," wife of Mr James Charles Dare of Oakey (Q.), and whose death occurred at a ... 218 words
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  1. APPLICATION FOR LICENSE UNDER PART II OF THE "WATER ACT, 1912."
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Wednesday 11 August 1915 [Issue No.146] p 4736

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    ... Orerehot dam on , the Culgoa River. Portion. W.L.L. 04 and 3. Parish. Curriwarra, Zara. County. Culgoa ... license for the said work, they should state their objections at the inquiry hereby appointed. H. H. DARE ... 192 words
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  2. NOTIFICATION OF THE ALTERATION OF THE BOUNDARIES OF THE TRUST DISTRICT OF THE YANKO, COLOMBO AND BILLABONG CREEKS WATER TRUST.
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 27 February 1931 [Issue No.26] p 905

    Government Gazette Notices Illustrated

    ... Water Conservation and Irrigation. Commission, I, Henry Harvey Dare, do hereby notify that the area ... 1931. H. H. DARE, Commissioner. The Schedule referred to. Description, All that area or tract of ... 560 words
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  3. "WATER ACT, 1912." APPLICATION NO. 303, WESTERN LAND BOARD DISTRICT.
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 7 January 1916 [Issue No.5] p 58

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... , 1912," in respect, of a dam on the Culgoa River, W.L.L. (' I and 3, parishes of Curriwarra and Zara ... , counties of Culgoa and Narran. H. H. DARE, Acting Commissioner for Water Conservation and Irrigation. Water ... 539 words
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