Bon Hull: Inspirational women’s liberationist

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Bon Hull, one of Australia’s first women’s liberationists, was born Jessie Mary Hull on 28 March 1915. She died 16 June 2000.

Raised by her working class family in Footscray, Bon went to work in the rag trade in Flinders Lane and for many years combined family commitments with a successful career as a designer.

Then in March 1970, Bon attended the inaugural meeting of the Women’s Action Committee (WAC), and immediately became an integral, influential and active participant in the Women’s Liberation movement in Victoria. She was involved in the radical actions that WAC organised in the early 1970s, including the “equal pay” tram ride and the anti-Miss Teenager demonstrations.

As Bon put it in a speech at the 1972 International Women’s Day Rally: “And still today, in 1972 the Women’s Liberation Movement is fighting for the right of women to control their own bodies, for the right to equal educational opportunities, and for the right of all children to proper child care so that both they and their parents can each enjoy full and creative lives.”

As a tireless and passionate worker, Bon was involved in many campaigns, mainly around issues to do with women’s health. She supported many women who needed abortions in the early 1970s and helped set up and administer the Abortion Trust Fund.

Bon was a founding member of the Women’s Health Collective that opened a clinic in 1974, providing a non-traditional health service to enable women to understand and have control over their own bodies.

Bon then went to write a book, In Our Own Hands: A Women’s Health Manual, which was published in 1980. She explained the reason why: “This book is a collection of information, experiences, and criticism of the Healthcare system, which works badly for people, and particularly so for women.”

In 1986 Bon was involved in the campaign to save the Queen Victoria Hospital site. The result fell short of her hopes, but the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre is nevertheless a tribute to her strength and determination to fight for justice for all women.

Bon Hull’s compassion and radical activism on behalf of women remains an inspiration to us all.

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