First Female Police Officer Celebrated In State Records Exhibition
Today marks the centenary of the appointment of the first two police women in NSW and Australia, one of whom, Maude Marian Rhodes, features in a year-long exhibition, Public Service / War Service, at the State Records Western Sydney Records Centre in Kingswood.
the contributions of NSW public servants to the war effort, including Maude Rhodes.
In 1915 the NSW Police Department advertised for two female special constable positions. Around 400 women applied, with the successful applicants being Maude Rhodes (an inspector for the State Children Relief Department)andLillianArmfield(anurseatCallanParkMentalHospital). Atthetimetherewere2,661police officers in the NSW force.
“The 1915 employment register shows Rhodes was the police department’s first registered police woman, being number 64 and Lillian Armfield was number 65,” Mr Hinchcliffe said.
“However, it was Armfield who had the longer career. She also had a role in Rhodes’ discharge in 1919: on 25 November Rhodes refused to obey a ‘legitimate order’ to go to Central railway station, given to her by ‘her superior officer – Special Constable LM Armfield’. Rhodes was given 14 days’ notice and discharged.”
Rhodes and Armfield’s employment was welcomed by many women’s organisations around Australia. Their duties involved dealing with women on both sides of the law, either detecting female offenders or protecting innocent women, girls and children. Wearing plain clothes, they policed Sydney’s streets, parks, railway stations and wharves and had powers to make arrests.
Maude Rhodes returned to the Children Relief Department in 1921 and became involved in the suffragette movement and the general push for women’s equality. She ran as a candidate in the Petersham municipal council election in 1937.
The NSW Police Force has hosted a number of special events to celebrate 100 years of Women in Policing, which will continue throughout the year. Themed ‘Celebrating Compassion, Courage and Strength’, this year’s state-wide celebrations illustrate a huge journey over the last 100 years and will showcase the history and achievements of women in the Force. Today, NSW boasts 4,542 female sworn officers and 2,581 female unsworn officers and a lifetime of achievements in Local Area Commands and specialist units.
The Force now has hundreds of committed and successful women working in diverse roles such as the Dog Unit, Rescue Squad, Mounted Unit and detectives and continues to offer women extensive opportunities, interesting experiences and diverse interaction with the community. All members of the community are urged to get involved and help mark this significant time in Australia’s history.
Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet officially opened the Public Service / War Service exhibition in April and it runs until Saturday 2 April 2016.
More than 11,000 New South Wales government employees volunteered for military service overseas during WWI and many gave their lives for their country. Others fulfilled essential services at home and government departments were transformed to perform wartime roles.
The exhibition presents stories from the lives of NSW railway and harbour workers, teachers, administrators, printers, nurses, clerks, draftsmen, politicians and police, with detailed profiles on 11 individuals.
Opening times are: 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and10am-4pm Saturdays. Closed Public Holidays.
For more information go to: www.records.nsw.gov.au
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia