Story of votes for women in South Australia

The story of votes for women in South Australia is one of social justice, of determination in the face of discrimination, and an absolute belief in the value of political rights. South Australia distinguished itself as innovative in the early nineteenth century. Even so, while adult men – including Aboriginal men – gained the right to vote and stand for election in 1856, only three cohorts of society were still denied this right. Prisoners. Lunatics. Women.

Rodeo was engaged by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Office for Women to develop two films for the Premiers State Dinner held to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of Womens Suffrage in South Australia. One film chronicles the historic events leading up to the passing of the legislation and the other features a series of interviews with a number of inspiring South Australian women including: The Honourable Vickie Chapman MP, The Honourable Michelle Lensink MLC, Natasha Stott Despoja AM, Maria Hagias, Dr Susan Close MP, The Honourable Margaret Nyland AM, Helen Oxenham, Maggie Beer AM, Eleni Glouftsis and Shirley Peisley AM.

Rodeo provided all pre and post-production and defined the narrative arc with the Office for Women and the Department of Premier and Cabinet. We worked with many government partners in different departments to access specific and often unseen archive material to form the content of the films. From searching various vaults under the city, gaining permissions from the Speaker of the House of Assembly and connecting with Emma Rebellato from the ABC for the voice over — this project was as rewarding as it was layered and complex. 

Shot across multiple locations from Old Parliament House and the Art Galley of South Australia, to the heart of the Barossa Valley. The interviews capture personal insights and continue the call to action for women and men of all ages to celebrate how far we've come. And to fight for what still needs to change. 

In addition to the State Dinner screening, the films will form part of Activism Now — an exhibition presented by the Centre of Democracy in partnership with the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre.

Activism Now — Hawke Centre, Kerry Packer Civic Gallery.

How has activism evolved and changed since women won the right to vote in the 1890s? What are the methods, the motivations, the outcomes? Activism Now explores contemporary activism through the stories of six self-identified women activists between the ages of 18 and 26.

Created and produced by Rodeo — Producer: Laura Cooper, Director/Camera/Edit: Tobin Lush, Design: Tobin Lush, Steph Morison, Laura Cooper, Voice over: Emma Rebellato, Copy: Pier Stamatogiannis.

Thanks — Department of Premier and Cabinet, Office for Women, State Library of South Australia, South Australian Parliament Research Library, Centre of Democracy and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

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