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‘ALP Susan Ryan’ Badge #2015-0003

White and blue badge, inscribed ‘ALP Susan Ryan’.


Susan Maree Ryan (b. 10 October 1942) was a Labor Senator for the Australian Capital Territory from 13 December 1975 to 19 January 1988. With a background as a teacher, Senator Ryan became the federal Minister for Education on 11 March 1983 when the Hawke Labor government came to power. She was also Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, a role in which she was able to pursue her passion for promoting the role of women in politics and government. Ryan was a founding member of the ACT chapter of the Women’s Electoral Lobby. Post politics, she served as a member of the Old Parliament House Advisory Council (2011-14) and as the inaugural Australian Age Discrimination Commissioner (2011).

The 1975 election that saw Ryan elected was the first at which the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory had Senate representation. The Senate (Representation of Territories) Act was part of the package of legislation rejected twice by the Senate before the 1974 double dissolution, and following that election was passed at the joint sitting of both houses of Parliament. The Act provided for each of the territories to have two Senators, elected under a single transferable vote for the same term as the House of Representatives. While it is theoretically possible for an independent or minor party to win a territory Senate seat, the strength of major party votes has meant that each territory has chosen one Labor and one Coalition Senator at every election since 1975. The first Senators elected from the ACT were Susan Ryan (Labor) and John Knight (Liberal).

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This badge has historical significance because of its association with the Hon. Susan Ryan, Senator for the Australian Capital Territory, from 1975 to 1987. The badge was used for one of the five elections Ryan contested and won for the Senate and serves as a physical representation of Ryan’s career and achievements.

Through its connection to Ryan, the badge represents a period of increasing women’s participation in electoral politics and the introduction of legislation protecting and empowering women. The badge is also representative of a particular period of Labor history, when women began to become much more prominent and influential in the party. For this reason the badge has social significance as part of the material culture of women’s political representation and participation and has meaning for women who have followed in the footsteps of trailblazers such as Susan Ryan.

  • ‘ALP Susan Ryan’ Badge‘ALP Susan Ryan’ Badge —


Diameter 56mm
Medium Metal, plastic, paper
Creator’s name Unknown
Impression c.1975