Women against grog: Old and new temperance movements among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

In 1897 the residents of a 'temperance colony' in a rural Australian town decided to buy their local, dry, hotel and experiment with a form of community-controlled licence. They wanted to end illegal sales of spirits, improve drinking behaviour and raise funds for local causes.

Eighty years later Indigenous Australian community groups started to purchase or operate hotels and licensed social clubs in a similar attempt to take back control over the supply of alcohol. Each of these alcohol reforms provoked opposition from women's temperance groups: from non-Aboriginal women in the 19th century, and from Aboriginal women in the 20th and 21st centuries.

In this paper I examine Aboriginal women's temperance activism, and argue that the demonstrative nature of their dissent signified a radical departure from social norms that required legitimating strategies.