Beryl Lindsay

Beryl played a pivotal role in achieving the first industrial award for teachers, the Teachers (Girls' Schools) Award in 1946.

Honour Roll

Beryl Lindsay was a Victorian teacher, who taught at Methodist Ladies College during the 1930s and went on to become Vice-Principal of the Elsternwick campus from 1946-60.

'It is 50 years now since the first group of teachers in Victoria succeeded in achieving an industrial award to regulate their conditions of employment. The honour for this achievement lies with a small but valiant group of women known in their time as assistant mistresses. In order to accomplish this goal, in 1921 they formed themselves into a professional organisation - the Assistant Mistresses' Association of Victoria. It was an organisation which struggled for twenty-five years to have put in place the Teachers' (Girls' Schools) Award'.

Though Beryl was one of the best paid women teachers at MLC, at times the maintenance man and the gardener received more pay than she did. She was annoyed that her male colleagues were paid more, and resented the fact that female teachers were not recognised as professionals.

'She was angry that the male-run school councils seemed to think the women teachers being the daughters of clergymen and retired professional men could be expected to work for pocket money.'

Beryl had been part of the Assistant Mistresses' Association of Victoria (AMAV) for some time and became the President of the AMAV at the Annual General Meeting on 11 March 1938. Her leadership was confirmed in an election the following year. She was seen as a conservative, establishment figure and her 'militancy' was confined to the issue of achieving fair salaries and conditions for women teachers.

'She was clear-minded, strong, persistent and very determined, she was a superb strategist.' At the time, the Rev. A.H.Wood was the Principal at MLC. Dr Wood believed that teaching was a vocation rather than a career. In his opinion, that meant dedication, hard work and loyalty. Beryl showed great courage in leading a campaign which was opposed by her own Headmaster and school council.

The story of this achievement can be found in The Only Abiding Solution - A History of the Teachers (Girls' Schools) Award by Kathleen Spence, 1997. This is a publication of the Victorian Independent Education Union.

Beryl was not only a great strategist but the one who did the really hard work. She was the person who was the driving force in getting the Award up. It was Beryl who recognised the importance of using the central industrial body to force the formation of an appropriate negotiating body. The achievement of the first industrial award for teachers in Victoria was the foundation stone for the proper regulation of wages and conditions for Victorian educators.