Women’s History Month: Jenny Beacham

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Jenny Beacham objected to Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War from very early on, and was involved with the Labor Party. Here she discusses her experience of a moratorium march, and her local Labor branch.


Jenny: First of all, I want to tell you a story about the first… I don’t know whether it was the first moratorium but: came to Melbourne to organise getting a house in the late – late 1970. And one of the moratorium marches were on. And we went to that. I remember taking – our daughter Susan was three. And she was marching with us, and was a very big march, where there was almost as many onlookers as there were participants. So I don’t know where it rated it in the list of chronology of the marching – of the moratorium matches. Anyway, it was certainly before we were living in Melbourne. And I remember saying, Susan, wave to the people, Susan! And I, this three year old waving to them was really disconcerting for some people. She was definitely being used as a political weapon outside the town hall. But there was – it was interesting, because I do remember like there was a big crowds watching as well as marching. But it was a pretty big march all the same. So then we came – we came back and lived in Carlton from 1971. And our main activity was through the local ALP branch, the North Carlton branch, which had Gareth Evans and Judy Bornstein. But it was a big branch, was a lot of people; would have been 50 or 60 at any meeting. The war was – the war was still a hot topic. Although it fairly quickly for us it, it morphed into the anti- uranium debate.

I don’t remember gender being much of an issue. There was many – as many women actively engaged…  and like the Save Our Sons was a terrific initiative. While you’re aware, you’re aware of Cairns probably as a leader of it, you never felt that he controlled it, not in the way that some later movements were controlled.

If you know a Melbourne woman who was involved in protesting against the Vietnam War, please leave a comment!

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