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Video clip synopsis – Dame Beryl was a pioneering women’s rights activist who became one of the most influential women in the Federal Liberal Party during the Menzies’ era.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 3min 18sec
Tags - change and continuity, feminism, gender, human rights, minimum wage, women, worker's rights, see all tags


Dame Beryl Beaurepaire

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About the Video Clip


Dame Beryl Beaurepaire is an excerpt from the program Dame Beryl Beaurepaire (26 mins), an episode of Australian Biography Series 11 (7×26 mins), produced in 2007.

Australian Biography Series 11
The Australian Biography series profiles some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time. Many have had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life. All are remarkable and inspiring people who have reached a stage in their lives where they can look back and reflect. Through revealing in-depth interviews, they share their stories – of beginnings and challenges, landmarks and turning points. In so doing, they provide us with an invaluable archival record and a unique perspective on the roads we, as a country, have travelled.

A Screen Australia National Interest Program.

Curriculum Focus



  • explain social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluate their impact on Australian life
  • explain the changing rights and freedoms of women in Australia

Inquiry Question

How have the rights and freedoms of women in Australia changed during the post-war period?

Students learn about
• the achievements of the women’s movement in the post-WWII period

Background Information


Born in 1923, women’s activist Dame Beryl Beaurepaire is a pioneering Australian feminist.

After serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force during World War II, she married Ian Beaurepaire of the Olympic Tyre dynasty and became Melbourne’s Lady Mayoress. At a time when few women were in the workforce, Dame Beryl put her energy into community and charity work. Recruited by Sir Robert Menzies to work in the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party, Dame Beryl graduated to the Federal branch of the party and lobbied successive prime ministers on both sides of politics. A willingness to challenge existing systems, a sense of social justice, a belief in equal rights and opportunity and a need to contribute to community life led to her becoming one of the most influential woman in the Federal Liberal Party. Convener of the first National Women’s Advisory Council and the first woman to be the Chair of the Australian War Memorial, Dame Beryl has tackled women’s employment, domestic violence, sex discrimination and education issues, among many other issues.

One of Dame Beryl’s first attempts to force acceptance of equality was during the war when she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force as a meteorologist to help ensure the safety of aircraft, both military and civil.

Classroom Activities

  1. Note-making
    While watching clip:
    * Note details of Dame Beryl’s role as advisor to the Victorian government.
    * Note details of her activities as head of the Liberal Party and National Women’s Advisory Committees.
    * Note the impact of these committees.
    * Note her approach to women’s rights. Reason?
    * Note when and why she had been ‘in trouble’.
    * Note Dame Beryl’s definition of, and attitude to, ‘feminism’.
    * Note what she believes is ‘best’ for women.
    * Note her reasons for not standing for parliament.
    * As a class discuss these points after watching the clip
  2. Research
    * When was the first International Women’s Day? What did women want?
    * What were the aims of the Women’s Liberation movement?
    * What are the aims of ‘feminism’?
  3. Reporting
    * Write a report on the changes made to women’s lives as a result of Dame Beryl Beaurepaire’s work.
    * Draw a Venn diagram of the aims of Feminism and Women’s Liberation.
    * Explain Dame Beryl Beaurepaire’s attitude to feminism.

Further Resources


Wikipedia – International Womens Day

Green Left – Women’s Liberation