International Women's Day: Elizabeth Austin

Liz Pidgeon

8 March, 2021

This year, YPRL is celebrating International Women’s Day all week! The theme for 2021 is Choose to Challenge.

Today's spotlight is on Elizabeth Austin.

Elizabeth Austin was a Victorian pioneer and philanthropist during the late nineteenth century, driven to improve the lives of older and poorer women.

Elizabeth and her husband Thomas built the heritage property Barwon Park in Winchelsea near Geelong in 1871. Thomas died that same year and Elizabeth Austin spent the remainder of her life making significant contributions to the Victorian community.

Locally, Elizabeth founded the Austin Hospital for Incurables — now part of Austin Health — at Heidelberg in 1882. She persuaded the Victorian government to donate land and she contributed £6,000 for building works.

Elizabeth had a particular passion to improve the lives of older and poorer women at a time when there were no welfare provisions being provided by the government.

The Austin is now a major health institution, world renowned for its research and specialist work. It continues to serve the community and opened the Olivia Newton John Wellness Centre in 2013.

Elizabeth died aged 89 years old in 1910, leaving a family of five sons and six daughters.

In 2012 she was added to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

Elizabeth certainly challenged the stereotype of women of her day through her work and by encouraging the government to step up and help those in need. We salute you, Elizabeth!

Search Wikinorthia for more stories about local women, and be sure to visit the other posts in this blog series — we'll be publishing one each day throughout the week.

You can also visit our curated list on the catalogue for recommended reading from our collection to celebrate International Women's Day 2021.

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