Una Prentice

1950 - 1951
BPW Australia President

1952-1956     BPW International 
                     Membership Development Sub-Committee

Occupation:   Lawyer and Barrister

At the 3rd National Conference held from the 28 to 30 January in 1950, Una Prentice was elected National President.

Una Prentice was the first woman law graduate admitted to the Bar of the Queensland Supreme Court, first woman admitted to the Bar of the High Court, and first female Commonwealth Prosecutor.


Having already completed her Bachelor of Arts, Una Prentice was one of four people to enrol in the newly established law course at the University of Queensland in 1936. On 29 April 1938 Una Prentice became the first female graduate from the Faculty of Law at the University of Queensland.

 Over the next two years legal firms showed no interest in her, as either a solicitor or barrister. Finally Una received an offer from the University of Queensland to catalogue the vast book collection of Sir James Blair, who had just retired as Chief Justice. This collection became the nucleus of the Law Library of the University of Queensland

When World War II broke out, and because of an associated skills shortage, Una was offered a job with the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor. In 1942 she became the first female lawyer to be employed in the Department, performing legal duties as well as being the office bookkeeper. Despite her prestigious position, Una was paid as a typist - the only salary scale the department had for women. After a few years Una eventually was paid a proportion of the legal officer's scale

Una Prentice then became Australian President of the Business and Professional Women's Association and attended an international conference, touring England for eight months talking about the status of women in Australia. Una married Tony Prentice, a barrister, in 1946 and they both practised law until Una's legal career was cut short, due to the birth of their son Roger. With no provision for working mothers at that time, Una was contented to stay home and raise her son and actively involve herself in a number of community organisations

Una Prentice is honoured by the University of Queensland, College of Law by the ‘Una Prentice Award’.  The Award recognises the achievements of women at universities across Queensland.

As a result of a Conference Resolution in 1950, Una commenced the Federation’s work on:

·        uniform divorce laws;

·        the principle of equality, equal opportunities and responsibilities; and

·        the abolition of the means test.

There were 26 Resolutions passed at the Conference and only one failed, which was about the formation of an Industrial Group within the Federation.

BPW Australia Board 1950 to 1951

President         Miss Una Prentice

Vice Presidents Miss Audrey Turner, Miss Jean Randall, Miss Olive Barton, Miss J Stevenson,

                      Mrs Joan Rosanove, Miss Dorothy Steele, Miss Mary Cleary

Hon. Secretary       Miss Jessie Robertson

Hon. Treasurer           Miss Mary Kennedy

Publicity               Miss Patience Thoms

International Relations   Miss Nell Millane

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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