Hetty Gilbert

Hetty Gilbert was the first woman President of the Victorian Teachers' Union, and fought for equal pay in education.

Honour Roll

Hetty Gilbert was appointed Monitor Teacher at Dana Street State School, Ballarat in 1902. In 1906, she became a Junior Teacher and in 1926, she transferred to Secondary Roll and taught at Essendon High School and Collingwood Girls School. She was a member of the Union Council from its inception (1926-49) and became an Executive Member from 1934-49.

At the 1941 conference Hetty, who had been Women's Vice President for seven years since 1934, was elected president of the Victorian Teachers' Union (VTU), thus, making her the first woman elected to this position. At that time the VTU was the only government school teachers' union in the state covering both primary and post primary schools. Hetty was re-elected to the position at the following conference, an impressive feat in a male dominated union.

During the early 1940s two of the main issues facing the VTU were class sizes and equal pay for women. During Hetty's years as Vice-President, the Technical Teachers Branch of the union formed a Women's Branch in 1938. The union took a prominent role in the equal pay issue.

A retired teacher remembers Hetty from his student teaching days as energetic and a strong unionist. After retiring from teaching, Hetty continued her commitment to Victoria's children through her work as President of the Children's Cinema Council of Victoria.