Dame Ada Norris DBE

Dame Ada Norris was an Australian women's rights activist and community worker. She was dedicated to raising the status of women.

Honour Roll

She chaired the UNAA Victoria Status of Women Committee for many years, and when International Women's Year 1975 was proposed she was responsible for forming the UNAA Status of Women Committee to be a focus for the year, and a means of informing the community on the issues. This committee was so successful that it became a Committee for the Decade of Women. Dame Ada chaired it until 1980.

Dame Ada was a highly intelligent woman with a great understanding of the need for raising the status of women. She attended Melbourne High School, then the University of Melbourne where she was awarded a DipEd in 1924 and an MA in 1926. She received an Hon. LLD (Melb) in 1980. She married J.G.Norris (later Judge Norris) in 1929.

She was a teacher in Leongatha High School and Melbourne High School 1925-29. After her marriage she devoted herself to voluntary community work except for the war years when there was a shortage of teachers. Dame Ada was always very generous in her support for younger women, and she was a great mentor.

In 1961-63 she was Australia's representative at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which she found very stimulating. In those days it was always a leading NGO woman who was the Australian representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She was the first Australian woman to become a member of the Order of St Michael and St George.

She was the President of the National Council of Women (NCW) of Victoria 1951-54, and Australian President 1967-70. In 1969 she wanted to increase the status of women in Papua New Guinea, and she raised the idea of a Hall of Residence for Women at the University of Papua New Guinea.

She chaired an appeal committee from 1969-73, with Dame Margaret Guilfoyle as Treasurer. They succeeded. Dame Ada became an enthusiastic supporter of the International Council of Women (ICW). She convened the ICW Migration Committee and was an Australian representative to ICW from 1950-71. She was NCW representative on the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council 1950-71. She threw herself behind such causes as allowing Japanese wives of Australian servicemen to become citizens.

Dame Ada formed the Old People's Welfare Council, which later became the Victoria Council on the Ageing. This led to the formation of similar Councils in all States. She also devoted herself to those suffering from a disability, and was made patron of the Victoria Society for Crippled Children and Adults, which became the Yooralla Society of Victoria. She was Hon. Secretary of the Society from 1935-51, and Vice-President from1951-76. She was a life member of ACROD.

She wrote the history of the Victoria Society for Crippled Children and Adults, The Society (1974), and the history of the NCW of Victoria, Champions of the Impossible (1978).