Welcome to the Politics of Social Change Foundation (POSC).
The Foundation has been set up by a group of women committed to redressing women’s inequality and disadvantage. To inspire others to become agents of progressive change we are retelling the stories of women who contributed to transforming Australian women’s lives since the 1970s. We aim to give these stories wider currency through a series of publications online.
We seek your support through donations to produce these publications and give the stories wide circulation.
The first publication celebrates the career of feminist and socialist Ann Symonds, whose fifty years of political activism included service as a Labor member of the NSW Legislative Council from 1982 to 1998.
We focus on some of the many issues Ann adopted: Women in/after prison and prisoners’ children, Drug law reform (connected to AIDS policies), Women’s housing and homelessness, Children and youth (children’s services, juvenile justice), Violence (anti-nuclear and anti-uranium activism, gun law reform). Her story of successes and setbacks offers valuable insights into the hard work of effecting social change.
We welcome and invite comments, additional information and feedback on Ann’s story. If you wish to contribute please contact us at:
Help us tell the story of Ann Symonds
Ann Symonds recorded interviews with oral historian Robert French and began archiving her personal records. Noted professional historian, Dr Hilary Golder has been commissioned to write about Ann Symonds’ political career. It will be available online, with excerpts released along the way on our website. Dr Golder’s research will include interviews together with written sources, notably Ann’s archives.
Dr Golder is undertaking the disposal, arrangement and description of these archives so they can be accessible to the public.
Tax deductible donations may be made through a secure link on the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) website.
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The story of Ann – Making a difference
The Honorable Ann Symonds AM did not get into politics just to ‘start a conversation’. Instead she fought for and achieved tangible gains for children, homeless women and women prisoners, while making progress in drug law reform.
Ann co-founded the National Foundation for Australian Women, was a founding member of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform and Vice-President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, was Patron of the Corrective Services Mothers and Children’s Program and of SHINE For Kids.
Ann’s pursuit of social change through three Labor governments (Wran, Unsworth and Carr) reveals both the possibilities and the frustrations of attempting progressive change through parliamentary politics. Other relevant questions spin off from this story.
How did a left-wing feminist refuse to be marginalised in the factionalised and male-dominated environment of the Labor Party?
And when we talk of progressive change is the ALP still fit for purpose? In her post-parliamentary career Ann was critical of the hollowing out of the party, and was perhaps liberated to try new alliances and solutions.
Introduction: A Tale of Two Speeches
The first publication commissioned by the Politics of Social Change Foundation focuses on the career of a woman who liked to describe herself as an ‘accidental politician.
’The late Ann Symonds was ‘catapulted’ into the New South Wales Legislative Council in September 1982. Having narrowly missed election to the Council in 1981, she was chosen by the Australian Labor Party to fill the casual vacancy caused when Peter Baldwin, a fellow member of the Labor Left, resigned to run for a federal seat.
*Hilary Golder has written extensively about Australian public history. Hilary has a PhD, School of History, University of New South Wales and BA (Hons) in Modern History, Somerville College, Oxford University. You can read more about Hilary here