2019 marks the 125th anniversary of the passing of the Adult Suffrage Bill by the South Australian Parliament. This landmark legislation granted women in South Australia the right to vote in general elections and to stand as members of Parliament – an Australian first.

The legislation would not have come to pass without the tireless campaigning of several local suffragists, including Mary Lee and Catherine Helen Spence along with the lesser known but still instrumental Elizabeth Webb Nicholls, Mary Colton, Serena Thorne Lake, Rose Birks and Augusta Zadow.

Their efforts culminated in the passing of the Adult Suffrage Bill on the 18th of December 1894.  As it was a Constitutional Amendment the bill had to be endorsed by Queen Victoria – which it was in March 1895, allowing women to vote for the first time in South Australian state elections in April 1896.

In 2019 Electoral Commission SA plans to celebrate this important anniversary with a number of initiatives and events, keep an eye out on our webpage and social media channels over the coming months.


Augusta Zadow

Mary Colton

Rosetta Birks


Serena Thorne Lake

Elizabeth Webb Nicholls

Catherine Helen Spence


Mary Lee