Email The Conversation By Kacey Sinclair Updated March 16, 2019 14:54:40 Photo: Fanny Finch’s 1856 ballot paper (Castlemaine Art Museum) Related Story: The daring Australian suffragist who took to an airship to fight for women’s rights Related Story: Timeline: the women’s movement Related Story: Who was Vida Goldstein? Map: Australia On January 22, 1856, an extraordinary event in Australia’s history occurred. It is not part of our collective national identity, nor has it been mythologised over the decades through song, dance, or poetry. It doesn’t even have a hashtag.But on this day in the thriving gold rush town of Castlemaine, two women took to the polls and cast their votes in a democratic election.Two days later, Melbourne newspaper The Argus unwittingly granted one of them posterity, writing “two women voted — one, the famous Mrs Fanny Finch”. Fanny Finch was a London-born businesswoman of African heritage, a single mother of four and the first known woman to cast a vote in an Australian election.Victorian women over the age of 21 (excluding Indigenous women) would not receive full unconditional suffrage until 1908. Victorian Indigenous women were not enfranchised until 1965. But Fanny Finch, as a local business owner who paid rates,… Read full this story
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