Marie Coleman AO

Marie Coleman AO

‘For me, the love is of good public policy, not politics. And somehow, I seem to find the energy to keep arguing for it.’

Awarded an AO for distinguished service to the advancement of women, Marie Coleman’s name has been synonymous with the women’s movement in Australia for the past 60 years. At 77 she maintains her indignation at the gender pay gap, and has championed everything from universal access to paid maternity leave to gay rights marriage. ‘A lot of these issues take tremendous persistence’, she says.

She was the first woman in Australia to head a statutory authority when she chaired the Whitlam Government’s Social Welfare Commission in 1973. She had a long and distinguished career in public service, being awarded a Public Service Medal in 1990 and a Centenary Medal in 2011.

She was a founding member in 1989 of the NFAW and chairs the Social Policy Committee, which plays a leadership role for women’s organisations nationally in the research and analysis of the impacts of policies on woman. She is also a committee member for the Australian Woman’s Archives Project.

She has been inducted into the Victorian Parliament’s Honour Roll of Women and the ACT Honour Roll of Women and is a patron of the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance.