1 Jul 1915 - first female police officers in Australia

#OnThisDay 1 July 1915 was the appointment of the first two policewomen in Australia.

In 1915 the NSW Police Department advertised for two female special constable positions. Around 400 women applied, with the successful applicants being Maude Rhodes (an inspector for the State Children Relief Department) and Lillian Armfield (a nurse at Callan Park Mental Hospital). At the time there were 2,661 police officers in the NSW force. Rhodes and Armfield were not only the first women employed as police officers in NSW, but also the first in Australia.

Rhodes and Armfield’s employment was welcomed by many women’s organisations around Australia. Their duties involved dealing with women on both sides of the law, either detecting female offenders or protecting innocent women, girls and children. Wearing plain clothes, they policed Sydney’s streets, parks, railway stations and wharves, and had the powers to make arrests.


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