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Irene Adelaide Greenwood (1898–1992)

This article was published:

Irene Greenwood, c.1940

Irene Greenwood, c.1940

Murdoch University

Irene (Rene) Greenwood, née Driver (1898-1992) public servant, community activist, Communist and feminist 

Birth: 9 December 1898 at Albany, Western Australia, daughter of Henry Hayward Driver (1872-1936), a farmer, born in Victoria, and Mary Ann Driver, née Hickin (1877-1960), born in South Australia, a foundation member of Australian Federation of Women Voters. Marriage: 18 June 1920 at Broome, WA, to Albert Ernest Greenwood. They had one daughter and one son. Death: 14 April 1992 at Claremont, Perth. 

  • Educated at Modern School, Perth, later regular participant in summer schools at University of Western Australia.
  • In 1919 employed in WA Public Service, first female in professional position.
  • Active in Movement Against War and Fascism in 1930s, speaking on same platform as Egon Kisch in Sydney Domain, later prominent in various pacifist and internationalist causes, attending International Labour Organization meeting, Geneva.
  • Sometime member Communist Party of Australia (CPA). Secretary of Australian-Russian Society, Perth, in late 1940s.
  • Feminist, especially influential in equal pay campaigns over many decades, active in conservative orientated Women's Service Guilds, but still on good terms with CPA members.
  • 1973 prominent in Women’s Electoral Lobby, Perth, and sought out by Elizabeth Reid, advisor to Prime Minister E. G. Whitlam. An inspirational figure to many Western Australian feminists.
  • Greenwood publicly changed her date of birth to 1899 to coincide with the year that non-indigenous women won the vote in Western Australia.
  • Cause of death: cerebrovascular accident and cerebral arteriosclerosis.

Patricia Giles, MSS 1997; Australian Women’s Register:

This person appears as a part of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19. [View Article]

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'Greenwood, Irene Adelaide (1898–1992)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 April 2024.

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