Monday Memories – GFS Australia Part 1

GFS Australia Part 1

As GFS spread throughout the world, each country worked under a treaty or charter with the parent body in England, so that the principles of the Society would be upheld. In Australia, each State had a separate charter and the one in Perth was signed on 20 December 1888. From the time that GFS first commenced in this State there was strong support from the Society in England through the Overseas Committee and visits by Extension Officers. They were women with great organising ability who travelled overseas to countries where GFS was established, giving support and assistance to established branches and helping to open new ones. During the visit to Australia in 1924 of Miss Florence Way, GFS Central Organiser in England, she travelled to every State and also to New Zealand on promotional work for GFS and there was great progress as a result of her work .

The Society in Australia worked in close co-operation with GFS in England and there was a strong bond between the two countries. The literature used was printed in England and this was of a high standard . However in the re-organisation of GFS Australia in the post-war years, it was realised that a new structure was required as moves were started in 1945 to make the Society more closely knit.

Mrs Kathleen Bright-Parker, Melbourne Organiser of GFS, was given the task of convening a national conference in Melbourne in 1946.  67 representatives attended from all parts of Australia and this question was discussed thoroughly and referred back to each Diocesan Council. Western Australia was represented by Miss Kathleen Whatley and Mrs Connie Renner.

In 1947 the Commonwealth Council (later to be called Australian Council) came into being, with Mrs B.P. Robin of Adelaide, the first Australian Chairman and Mrs Kathleen Bright-Parker, Secretary. Each diocese was to be represented according to the number of branches, with meetings held every three years “so the GFS could speak with one voice and discuss matters of concern and interest to the Society throughout Australia”.

The Primate of Australia, Archbishop H.W. K. Mowll, accepted the position of first President in 1950. Each successive Primate has also been President. Lady Slim, the Governor General’s wife, became first Australian Patron in 1953 and this vice-regal link, which has been strong since the Society was first formed, has continued.

Miss Kathleen Whatley was the GFS representative from Western Australia at the first Commonwealth Council Meeting and this State has been represented at every one since.


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