Patience Thoms OBE

1960 - 1964 
BPW Australia President

1968-1971    BPW International President

BPW International
1962-1965    Chairman Widening Horizons Advisory Committee
1965-1968    Chairman, Publications Committee
1974-1975    Legislation Committee

Occupation: Journalist and Dep Chancellor Griffith University QLD

Patience Thoms was BPW Australia President from 1960 to 1964 and served two terms in this role. Patience was one of the most eloquent Presidents to hold office. Her knowledge was extensive, her energy knew no limits; her dedication was an inspiration. 


As a young enthusiastic BPW member she spent her holidays forming clubs.  In 1968, she was elected as the eighth president of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women at the Eleventh International Congress in London, England and held that position until 1971.  She was the first International President from Australia, and also the first from the Southern Hemisphere.

In an interview in 1995, she recalled, “the changes of the years since 1946 when I first became associated with the business and profession women’s organisation are really quite extraordinary. Today’s feminists don’t think it’s changed enough, and it’s hasn’t. There are many things need to be done”.

Patience Thoms was a journalist and held the post of Women’s News Editor of The Courier Mail for twenty years from 1956. She insisted on being part of the daily news conferences which had previously being off limits to anyone from “the hen’s coop” - as the women’s section was dubbed.

Patience Thoms was the author of the “The first 25 years….” the detailed history of BPW Australia Federation since 1947. It was noted by Past President, Peg Dwyer in 1970, “that the book has its own story to tell and be an inspiration to others to carry on the traditions which have been given to us by the pioneers of the Federation”.

After the 1960 National Conference, the Equal Pay Promotion Committee was established with Past President, Jean Arnot, as Chairman.  The establishment of the Committee was a new and very important era in the Australian Federation, particularly when women were not receiving equal pay for equal work.

There were many campaigns under Patience Thoms Presidency including the issue of the compulsory retirement of women on marriage.  Patience sent a “telegram to the Prime Minister deploying the absence in the Public Service Amendment Bill of a clause embodying the Boyer Committee’s recommendation regarding compulsory retirement of married women”.  The bar to this rule was lifted in 1966.

When Patience retired she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Asian Languages and became the Deputy Chancellor of Griffith University in Queensland. The Patience Thoms Indigenous Australian (Honours/Postgraduate) Scholarships are designed to assist Indigenous students moving onto Honours and Graduate studies at Griffith University. The Scholarship aims were to give both material and financial support for Indigenous students who require such support to complete further university studies.

Patience Thom’s association with Griffith was further enhanced through her membership of the University Council from 1980-1994.  As a long serving member of the governing body she provided practical advice and wise counsel, which contributed greatly to the development of the University. In her role as Deputy Chancellor from 1988-1992, she was eloquent in speaking in support of Griffith University.

With her outstanding personal and professional attributes, it is little wonder that Patience Thoms was involved in a number of important community leadership roles throughout her life.

Patience Thoms served two terms and with two Boards.

Patience Thoms passed away in 2006 and was a benefactor in her will with bequests of $66,000 to BPW International and $33,000 to BPW Australia.

BPW Australia Board 1960 to 1962

President                                    Patience Thoms

Immediate Past President             Anne Wood

First Vice President                      Miss B.M. Cheyne

Second Vice President                  Professor Beryl Nashar

Vice Presidents:                           Marian Walker, Miss H.B. Jackson, Miss M.B. Henson, Miss L.A. Cunningham

Hon Treasurer                             Peg Magoffin

BPW Australia Board 1962 to 1964

President                                 Patience Thoms

Immediate Past President     Anne Wood

First Vice President           Miss B.M. Cheyne

Second Vice President       Professor Beryl Nashar

Vice Presidents:             Mrs E. Butterworth, Mrs D.J. Hopkins, Joy Smith,  Marian Walker

Hon Treasurer               Peg Magoffin


Thank you to the women behind the BPW Australia Past President History Project:
Project Leader, Past President Marilyn Forsythe (2007-2013), 
Past President Kay Morrison (2004-2007), Margaret Tipper, BPWA Executive Secretary (2016+), Robyn Duncan (BPWA Public Officer), Trish Clifford (BPW Central Coast) and Jean Murray (Immediate Past BPWA Executive Secretary) for their assistance and research.  The Past President History will continue to expand as information becomes available about the National Presidents since 1947.  

Please submit further information and photos to secretary@bpw.com.au

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