Ivy Weber

Ivy Weber was the first woman to be elected to the Victorian Parliament in a general election, in 1937.

Honour Roll

Born in 1892, Ivy Weber was Victoria's second woman parliamentarian but the first to win a seat at a general election. She won and held the seat of Nunawading as an independent in 1937, 1940 and 1943.

A widow from World War I, with a small child, she married Clarence Weber, principal of the 'Weber and Rice Health and Strength College' and an allround athlete. He was a widower with seven young children and together they had another three. Clarence died of a heart attack in 1930 leaving Ivy with eleven children.

Ivy became involved in public life through the activities of the College. She was active in the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the National Council of Women. Like many women entering parliament, most of her children had left home when she embarked on a political career. The WCTU encouraged women to stand as independent candidates to specifically represent women.

In June 1937, the League of Women Electors of Victoria was formed and endorsed three women candidates including Ivy Weber. Ivy's electoral platform was: a true democracy to provide economic security, and thus alleviate distress and unemployment; provision of free education from kindergarten to University; establishing a systematic National Health Scheme, thereby raising the General Health Standard; abolishing slum dwellings and erecting suitable homes for families; and securing a comprehensive scheme of National Insurance, and covering hospital treatment.

As a Member of Parliament she successfully lobbied for female representation on government boards and espoused equal pay for teachers. She believed that women should be on local councils and juries. She advocated a homemaker's allowance for women with families. She was one of the instigators of the Physical Education course at the University of Melbourne, the first of its kind in Australia. In 1938, Ivy was one of two women members of the first National Co-ordinating Council for Physical Fitness.

In 1943, following three successive electoral successes, she resigned her seat six weeks after the Victorian State election. She unsuccessfully stood as an independent for the Federal seat of Henty as part of the League of Women Voters' Women for Canberra Movement. Her choice of seat was ill-advised and she lost her seat. Although denying that she was a feminist, Ivy's commitment to women and women's issues belies this. She was a woman of vision. Ivy spent her old age in obscurity and died in 1976.