Helen Mayer
Women in Federal Parliament

Helen Mayer

Member for Chisholm (Vic.)

ALP, 1983–1987

Helen Mayer.

Image courtesy of Fairfax Syndication.

Helen Mayer was elected to represent the Victorian electorate of Chisholm in the House of Representatives for the Australian Labor Party in 1983. During her four years in Parliament she was an advocate of social welfare reform, using her first speech to uphold the principles of a compassionate government.

Mayer spoke of her pride in the introduction of equal employment opportunities legislation for women. In debates she also addressed issues of youth unemployment and school funding, where her background as an English teacher provided her with an insight into Australia’s educational needs. She viewed an MP’s role as primarily educative: ‘You’re there to teach people what democracy is. It’s the only reason for being there’.

A member of the Public Accounts Committee from 1983 to 1987, Mayer singled out her role in scrutinising the Department of Defence’s project management for the committee as one of the most satisfying aspects of her parliamentary life.