Vida Goldstein
MTC Audio Lab

Great Australian Speeches

Vida Goldstein's Open Letter to Parliament

Read by Marg Downey

Marg Downey reimagines Australian suffragette and social reformer Vida Goldstein’s 1916 open letter.

Vida Goldstein was an Australian suffragette and social reformer.

In 1900 she founded the Australian Woman's Sphere, a monthly journal which advocated for equal rights for women. With the support of the newly formed Women's Federal Political Association, Goldstein was one of four female candidates to stand for federal parliament in 1903, the first at which women were eligible to stand. While unsuccessful, she continued to campaign for women's rights and interntional peace, running in the 1910, 1913, 1914 and 1917 elections.

As a committed pacifist, Goldstein helped found the Women's Peace Army, an anti-war organisation, in 1915 and was Chair of the Peace Alliance. These groups were among the first to oppose the war, but also were among the first to be censored. In September 1914, the offices of The Women Voter were raided in attempt to stop publication. 

On 5 October 1915, Goldstein published an open letter to the Members of the Commonwealth Parliament in her newspaper The Woman Voter. In this open letter, she speaks out against conscription and 'the gradual but steady loss of the great Bulwarks of Liberty, a Free Conscience, Free Press, Free Speech'.

For MTC Audio Lab's Great Australian Speeches, Director Petra Kalive has reimagined Goldstein’s open letter into a speech, read by Marg Downey.

Thank you for tuning into MTC Audio Lab. You can hear more episodes from this series here.

While we're offstage, we begin this new initiative by experimenting with non-fiction texts and poetry in Great Australian Speeches, recreating chilling ghost stories in a dramatic reading of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and will be exploring audio plays when we can return to the studio.

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Published on 17 July 2020

MTC Audio Lab: Great Australian Speeches