Women's Groups 2013 - Graduate Women Western Australia (GWWA)/Australian Federation of University Women (AFUW) Western Australia

Graduate Women Western Australia (GWWA)/Australian Federation of University Women (AFUW) Western Australia

Purpose of the group

GWWA is a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation of women graduates wanting to serve and empower women and girls through education and advocacy at a local, national and international level. The group welcomes all women with an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) from a university or institute of higher education. Degrees from across the world are recognised.

Formerly known as the Australian Federation of University Women WA Inc (AFUW), the organisation started in 1923 with Dr Roberta Jull as first president. According to its 1965 constitution, the association’s objectives were to act as an organisation that provided the chance for opinions to be expressed and for concerted action by university women in matters of common interest. AFUW also sought to cooperate with the International Federation of University Women for the promotion of scholarship, understanding and friendship among university women of the world without racial, religious or political discrimination.

Meetings were partly social while study groups were also established to prepare background material for discussion at AFUW national conferences.

Time period

The AFUW was formally established at the inaugural conference in Sydney in September 1922. In WA, the AFUW was established in 1923 when the first national president, Ms Frances Thorn, contacted Dr Roberta Jull in Perth to suggest a WA branch.

The inaugural meeting was held on 22 June 1923 in the University of WA physics lecture room—30 women attended. A Bunbury branch formed in 1947 and continued until the late 1970s. Branches also existed in Kalgoorlie and Northam in the late 1940s and 1950s. The AFUW became incorporated in WA on 2 October 1972. In December 2009, the AFUW changed its name to the Australian Federation of Graduate Women Inc to better represent the organisation’s broadening membership parameters.

Key achievements

In 1927, an AFUW meeting in WA committed to establishing a women’s college and established a committee with representatives from other women’s organisations, such as the Karrakatta Club and National Council of Women. Fundraising activities were consistent, even through World II, and a residential college for women was established in temporary accommodation in 1946. St Catherine’s College at UWA was officially opened in July 1960. Once the college was established, AFUW’s focus became the manufacture and hire of graduation regalia. This became a principal source of revenue. GWWA provides opportunities for education through scholarships, bursaries and grants awarded annually. The group fundraises with hire of academic dress hire and other initiatives, largely run on a volunteer basis. GWWA actively advocates on women’s issues, especially the lifelong education of women and girls, improved status of women and human rights. Members join with other like-minded women in activities at local, national and international levels in fundraising, providing scholarships, and also setting up projects and initiatives to help women and girls in all parts of the world.

The WA branch hosted an international conference on behalf of the International Federation of University Women in Perth in 2004.

Key people and positions in the group

  • Dr Roberta Jull was the first WA president in WA and Mrs Euphemia Ross was the first vice-president. Dr Jull was also national president from 1926–1928.
  • Mrs Dorothy Forsaith was a WA president and a national vice-president. She was the first woman from the southern hemisphere to be elected to the AFUW Board of Officers.
  • GWWA has a committee of about 12 members, which includes a president, two vice-presidents, secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer, newsletter editor and five general committee members.
  • The current president as of 2012 is Ms Felicity Farrelly. GWWA members are automatically part of the national Australian Federation of Graduate Women and the International Federation of University Women.


  • JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia: Records related to the Australian Federation of University Women (1923–1973) Records including constitutions 1950 and 1965, minutes 1923–1972, correspondence 1958–1969, cash books 1923–1972, membership 1933–1980, history, reports and other items; also material relating to the Australian Federation of University Women and the International Federation of University Women.
  • Nash, Heather. 1985. By Degrees… A history of Australian Federation of University Women 1922–1985. Australian Federation of University Women. Available from State Library of Western Australia.
  • Woods, Mary V. And Bisset, Winfred W. 1973. The History of the Western Australian Association of University Women: 1923¬–1973.
  • A history of the organisation from 1973–2013 is due for completion in 2013.
  • Information provided by Karen Bothwell.

Article Index
Women's Groups 2013
Abortion Law Repeal Association/Association for the Legal Right to Abortion (ALRA)
American Women's Club of Perth (AWC)
Association of Civilian Widows of WA Inc
Australian College of Midwives WA Branch (ACM)
Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA)
Beta Sigma Phi
Business and Professional Women Western Australia (BPW)
Catholic Women’s League of Western Australia (Inc)
Chrysalis House Women's Refuge
Cine-Matrix: Women in Film and Television WA
Cockburn Women’s Peace Camp
Combined Equal Pay Committee/WA Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity
Community Midwifery WA
Country Women’s Association (CWA)
Domestic Violence Action Group (Geraldton)
Emily’s List
Equal Opportunity Law Reform Coalition
Fremantle Women’s Health Centre (FWHC)
Girl Guides WA
Graduate Women Western Australia (GWWA)/Australian Federation of University Women (AFUW) Western Australia
Grapevine/Perth Wimmin’s Collective
Gretel Club of Perth (Inc)
Harvest Guild
Incest Survivors Association (Inc.)
Inner Wheel Australia
Inside Out Project
Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre
Kalgoorlie Auxiliary of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Karrakatta Club
Labor Women’s Association
Lespar Library
Living Child Inc.—Safe Village Births
Lutheran Women WA
Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre
Mining Mums
Modern Women's Club
Mothers’ Union Australia
Movement for the Ordination of Women
Muslim Women’s Support Centre of WA (Inc)
National Council of Women of Western Australia (previously known as West Australian National Council of Women and Western Australian National Council of Women)
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia—WA section (NCJWA)
Nintirri Centre
Older Women’s Network (OWN WA)
Penguin Club
Perth Ionian Club
Polyhymnia Reading Group
Rape Crisis Line
Rural Remote Regional Women’s Network (RRR)
Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC)
Sibyl/University of Western Australia Student Guild Women’s Collective
Society of Women Writers WA
Soroptimist International of Western Australia
Starick Services Inc
Status of Women Committee WA—Australian Labor Party
Tradeswomen on the Move
UN Women Australia (formerly UNIFEM Australia)—Perth Chapter Young UN Women Perth Chapter
Union of Australian Women—WA Branch
V.I.E.W. Western Australia
West Australian Women’s Society of Fine Arts and Crafts
War Widows’ Guild
Warrawee Women’s Refuge
Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL)
West Australian Housewives’ Association (Inc)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Women in Media
Women’s Information Referral Exchange (WIRE)
Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of Western Australia
Women in Education Coalition
Women in Mining WA (WIMWA)
Women in Sailing (WIS)
Women in Sport Committee of the Western Australian Sports Council
Women in Technology WA (Inc) (WiTWA)
Women Lawyers of Western Australia (Inc) (WLWA)
Women with Disabilities WA Inc (WWDWA)
Women’s Action Alliance (WAA)
Women’s Advisory Council (WAC)
Women’s Broadcasting Cooperative
Women’s Committee of State School Teachers’ Union WA Executive
Women's Committee of the Waterside Workers Federation
Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services (WA)/Women’s Refuge Group of WA (WRG)
Women’s Health and Family Services/Women’s Health Care House/Perth Women’s Centre/Women’s Health Service
Women’s Information Service (WIS)
Women’s Interest Network
Women in Engineering WA (WIE WA)
Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO)
Women’s Liberation
Women’s Service Guilds
Women’s Studies Group
Yanay Yanma
YWCA of Perth
Zonta International
Additional Groups
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