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Women and Whitlam: revisiting the revolution

Women and Whitlam: revisiting the revolution

Nights at the Library
Talks & Ideas

Join us to celebrate the release of Women and Whitlam with editor Michelle Arrow and its trailblazing contributors.

5 / 7 events in this Nights at the Library series
20 April 2023 6pm to 7pm


General Admission: $10.00
Concession: Free
Friends of the Library Members: Free


Dixson Room, Ground Floor
Mitchell Building
Sydney NSW 2000


April 2023 marks 50 years since the Whitlam Government appointed Elizabeth Reid — the first women’s advisor to a national government anywhere in the world. It was a landmark appointment and heralded major policy reforms for Australian women. To coincide with this landmark anniversary, Women and Whitlam: Revisiting the Revolution, edited by Michelle Arrow, brings together three generations of women who write about the lasting impact of the policy reforms of the early 70s on Australian women and how we build on that revolution for the future. 

Hear editor Michelle Arrow in conversation with contributors, trailblazers and activists Ranuka Tandan, Patricia Amphlett OAM and Sara Dowse as they discuss the scope and scale of the reforms for Australian women, and where to from here.    

Michelle Arrow is professor in Modern History at Macquarie University and a Research Fellow at the Whitlam Institute. She is one of Australia’s leading contemporary historians and has written for The Conversation, Australian Book Review, Inside Story and Sydney Morning Herald. Michelle is the author of Friday on Our Minds: Popular culture in Australia since 1945 and The Seventies: The personal, the political and the making of modern Australia, which was awarded the 2020 Ernest Scott Prize for history and was shortlisted for the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Patricia Amphlett OAM, professionally known as Little Pattie, enjoys a career that began in 1963. She had a succession of hits, joined Brian Henderson’s Bandstand family and became a prominent force in the Australian music industry. Patricia’s many industry awards include Best Female Singer, Most Popular Female personality, a TV Week Logie and Induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Recently, she received the MO Lifetime Achievement Award and the Australian Women in Music Lifetime Achievement Award. At age 17 Patricia was the youngest Australian to entertain our forces in Vietnam. Since then, she has devoted much of her time to Vietnam Veterans and their families. Patricia is a former member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, former member of the ACTU Executive, former board member of the NFSA and former Federal President of MEAA. She is currently the patron of Forces Entertainment, a member of the Jessie Street Trust and a board member of the Whitlam Institute.

Sara Dowse’s first novel, West Block, is based on her experience as head of the women’s unit established in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to give bureaucratic support to Elizabeth Reid, Gough Whitlam’s world-first prime ministerial Women’s Adviser. She resigned from the service when, under Malcolm Fraser, the unit was transferred out of the department. Writing extensively on women’s issues while embarking on her career as a writer, she drafted the women’s policy for then Shadow Minister Susan Ryan, which was implemented by the Hawke government.

Ranuka Tandan is a young Nepali Australian woman living on Gadigal land. She has extensive writing, editing and content creation experience after editing the student newspaper of the University of Sydney, Honi Soit, in 2020; publishing in The Guardian; and working in the Whitlam Institute’s Public Affairs Team since graduating from Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. Ranuka has been involved in grassroots activism for the past five years and is passionate about fighting for social and environment justice, and erasing racial and gender inequality. She believes that the best way to do this is through collective action and looks forward to seeing the readers of this book on the streets!