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Corsage of Violets that belonged to Quentin Bryce AC #2010-0495

Ladies brooch or corsage, displaying a bunch of violets (purple and white flowers with green leaves) made from silk, coated linen and plastic.

History

This brooch was donated to the museum by Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC (Governor-General from 2008). Much of the information about the brooch was collected in an interview with Ms Bryce conducted by the museum in November 2010. The corsage or brooch is, in a personal sense, closely associated with the Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, and her family. In particular it is a link between three generations of women in Ms Bryce’s family who have promoted the importance of education for women, something Ms Bryce credits for her own education and career. Ms Bryce’s career has been rich and distinguished. Prior to becoming Governor-General she was an academic, lawyer, community and human rights advocate, senior public service officer, university college principal, and Governor of Queensland (2003-08). Ms Bryce’s contribution to advancing human rights and equality, the rights of women and children, and the welfare of the family was recognised in her appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988 and as a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2003. Also in 2003, she was invested as a Dame of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.

More broadly the brooch relates to the women’s suffrage movement, with the colours of the brooch being the colours associated with the militant suffrage movement (purple/violet, white and green). Significantly the brooch was worn on 24 June 2010 when Ms Bryce swore in Julia Gillard as Prime Minister of Australia. This occasion marked the first time in Australia’s history that female leaders occupied positions at every level of government.

From the perspective of Ms Bryce, one of the most important outcomes of the suffrage movement was women’s increased access to education, as education allows people to more fully participate and contribute to democracy. In an interview in November 2010 Ms Bryce commented:

‘Absolutely the most important change for women has been opportunities in education. Certainly that’s been the greatest achievement of the women’s movement. There were very few women on Australian campuses, very few girls who finished school to Year 12 when I was young. Now to see the marvellous participation of women, it makes my heart sing. It’s not just important for them—it’s so important for our country and our world. We stand on the shoulders of the women who gave priority to breaking down those barriers to universities. It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate. Every generation, every mother in her heart, what she wants most is a better life for her children. The issues that women share around the world, wherever we come from, are all about the future of our children—their health, their education, their employment. They would have been my grandmother’s hopes as they were my mother’s hopes for me and my hopes for my children and for all young Australians.’

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This brooch, a corsage of violets, is significant through its association with Quentin Bryce, her family history and her beliefs around women’s suffrage. It was given to Ms Bryce when she was a girl in the 1950s by her grandmother, who owned it previously. Ms Bryce remembers the brooch as being ‘something special from my grandmother’s wardrobe’ and her grandmother as ‘a woman who cared deeply about education.’ The brooch is a link between generations of women in Ms Bryce’s family who have promoted the importance of education for women, something Ms Bryce credits for her own education and career.

Ms Bryce, Australia’s first female Governor-General, wore this corsage on 24 June 2010 when she swore in Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. This occasion marked the first time in Australia’s history that female leaders occupied positions at every level of government.

On donating the brooch to the Museum of Australian Democracy, Ms Bryce commented that: ‘The colour purple is very symbolic for me as it is for many women. The colours of the suffragette movement were green, purple and white. I think of purple as being the symbol for equality for women, for justice and for the women’s movement which is very much in the tradition of this country.’ From Ms Bryce’s perspective, one of the most important outcomes of the suffrage movement was women’s increased access to education, as education allows people to more fully participate and contribute to democracy.

  • Corsage of Violets that belonged to Quentin Bryce ACCorsage of Violets that belonged to Quentin Bryce AC —

Details

Width 110mm
Height 116mm
Depth 53mm
Medium Silk; coated linen; plastic; metal
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Unknown