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Dr Muriel Porter OAM

Despite playing a pivotal role, Muriel Porter still finds it hard to believe she has seen women bishops consecrated in the Anglican Church in Australia.

Honour Roll

"The opening of equality for women in the church is important not only for the church and for churchwomen but for all women in Australian society because of the church's continuing influence on issues of social justice." - Dr Muriel Porter OAM

"I still have to pinch myself," she says. It's been the culmination of the achievement of a lifetime of work."

In 2005, after many years of advocacy, Muriel initiated a reference concerning women bishops to the Church's highest court, the Appellate Tribunal. The reference sought clarification of the Church's constitution regarding women. In 2007, the tribunal ruled that women priests could be bishops without further church legislation, and in 2008 two were consecrated, Kay Goldsworthy in Perth and Barbara Darling in Melbourne.

"It means that women priests are no longer barred by a stained glass ceiling," Muriel says. "There is no longer a ceiling that says, 'this far and no further'."

Muriel's advocacy for women clergy began in the 1980s, when she was a founding member of the Melbourne branch of the 'Movement for the Ordination of Women'. It continued through her membership of more than ten state and national Anglican church committees. She has always passionately believed in the full equality of women before God.

"I was brought up to believe in the equality of women," Muriel said. "I have really fought for it in the church for the past 25 years. To be female is to be made as much in God's image as to be male, but the church and society had conveniently forgotten that for thousands of years.
"The full equality of women is critical to the psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing of women in every walk of life. It protects women from all the damage that can happen to them when people regard them as less worthy."

Muriel attributes her successful campaign to "sheer dogged persistence and refusing to take no for an answer". "The only thing that overcomes failure is to pick yourself up and try again. I think that is a quality women have."

In 2002 Muriel was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for service to the community as an advocate for women's and social justice issues, and to the Anglican Church of Australia.