Jessica (Bon) Hull

Bon Hull dedicated her time and energy to the cause of women's liberation.

Honour Roll

She was a pioneer for the rights of women in Melbourne who attended the first meeting of the Women's Action Committee in 1970; a precursor to the Victorian Women's Liberation Movement. Bon was born to a Melbourne working-class family in 1915 and grew up in the western suburb of Footscray. She first attended the Emily McPherson College where she learned to sew and then worked for many years as a seamstress and cutter and later as a fashion designer after training at the Working Man's College, now RMIT University.

She combined raising a young family in often difficult circumstances with a successful professional and business career. Her public achievements came later in life. Through the Women's Action Committee, which she helped to set up, Bon was involved with a series of radical actions in the early 1970s. She also helped to establish the Women's Liberation Centre in 1972. She fought for the repeal of the anti-abortion laws and in 1973 helped to establish the Abortion Trust Fund which loaned money to women who couldn't afford to pay for an abortion. She campaigned strongly for equal rights for women, particularly equal pay.

In 1974, Bon was a founding member of the Women's Health Collective which was established in Collingwood as a self-help clinic that was to be the forerunner of today's women's health services. Bon's most notable achievement was the publication in 1980 of In Our Own Hands: A Women's Health Manual, which detailed easy and accessible information on women's health issues. It helped to demystify the health-care system and provided practical information to enable women to take greater control of their health.

Bon was one of the original campaigners who lobbied to save the Queen Victoria Women's Hospital building from demolition. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Queen Victoria Women's Centre in 1996.

When Bon Hull died in June 2000, Australian women lost a forthright and fearless fighter for their rights. Bon was known for her outspokenness and unquenchable social conscience, which led her to being the first Australian women to go to jail for protesting against the Vietnam War. She was also well known for her strength, integrity, sincerity, generosity and compassion. Throughout her life, Bon displayed a remarkable capacity to respond to radical ideas with open enthusiasm.