An outline of this paper was first discussed at a meeting on 14 September 1976. It was first published in March 1977 in Refractory Girl, a journal which has ceased publication.
The Women's Movement reached Canberra six years ago, when a Women's Liberation group was formed in June 1970. The first Women's Liberation Newsletter appeared in October that year. The group, varying in size from about six to about fifty, continued to meet and to issue a monthly newsletter for the following five years. For three years, from February 1972 until January 1975, our centre of activities was the Women's Liberation House in Bremer Street, Griffith and participants in the group later secured the present Women's Centre in Lobelia Street. This now houses the Women's Information Service, the Abortion Counselling Service, and a feminist bookshop; it provides meeting and office facilities (telephone, typewriter, duplicator and filing cabinets) for Women's Electoral Lobby, the Women's Refuge, and the Rape Crisis Centre; it is the place at which we celebrate the publication of Beryl Henderson's translation Abortion: The Bobigny Affair, for instance, or the achievement of a national Women and Politics conference, or the arrival of a barrel of wine and some cases of empty bottles. The movement has grown large. It has diversified. It has become a vital necessity to a number of women in this city. Yet the predominant temper in the Women's Movement in Canberra during 1976 has reflected neither complacency about this state of affairs, nor the excitement, anger, and sense of urgency which contributed to achieving it. Rather, the prevailing mood has been bewildered, irritated, and weary. And the Canberra Women's Liberation group has disappeared. Its last Newsletter, Number 57, appeared in June 1976. The last meeting recorded in its minute book was held on 12 November 1975.
'Women's Liberation’ was a label which implied a particular cluster of expectations and commitments within the Women's Movement. Its disappearance from our groups, activities and writings is not simply a shift in semantic fashion. Nor is it merely the absorption of one group into the far larger community formed by the Women's Movement. On the contrary, it represents the loss of those expectations and commitments which were essential for many of us to our continuing engagement in the feminist struggle.