Julia Flynn

After a long fight, Julia Flynn was the first woman Chief Inspector of Schools.

Honour Roll

Julia Flynn was born on 24 January 1878, at West Melbourne, the youngest of six children of Daniel Flynn, a grain and corn merchant. Her parents were Irish born Catholics. Julia was educated in Carlton then at South Melbourne College and later at Presbyterian Ladies College, matriculating in 1893.

In 1897, she was appointed as a monitor teacher to Brunswick South State School. In 1900, she entered the Training College to obtain her Trained Teachers' Certificate and went on to study at university for a Bachelor in Arts, finally completing it in 1912. She taught at Christmas Hills and then at Bright. In 1907, she taught at the Continuation School (later Melbourne High School) and was recognised as an outstanding teacher of mathematics.

In 1914, she was one of three people appointed to the newly created position of Inspector of Secondary Schools. At this time all senior positions in education were held by men. Through long hours, hard work and dedication she rose to Senior Inspector in 1924, then Assistant Chief Inspector early in 1928. When the Chief Inspector M.P. Hansen became Director of Education in June of that year Julia became Acting Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools. No woman had ever reached such a high position in the Victorian Public Service and no woman in Australia had achieved this position.

In July 1928, the position was advertised with the caption, 'Male Required'. Powerful women's groups rallied, appeals were made to the 1926 Women's Qualification Act, questions were asked in parliament and The Age took up the cause. She finally won the position on appeal but held it only for a six-month probationary period as Hansen refused to recommend confirmation of the appointment. He claimed Julia lacked vision and imagination.

It was not until 1936 when Hansen was no longer the Director, that she was appointed Chief Inspector. She held this position until her retirement in 1943. Julia was a formidable but just inspector and required a high standard of others. She was committed to the welfare and cause of education. After her retirement she worked tirelessly as secondary schools adviser to the Catholic Education Office. On 14 October 1947 she died following a heart attack at Mount St Evin's Hospital in East Melbourne.