Dame Ivy Wedgwood
Women in Federal Parliament

Dame Ivy Wedgwood

Senator for Victoria

LIB, 1950–1971

Dame Ivy Wedgwood was a foundation member of the Liberal Party and the first woman to represent the state of Victoria in the Senate.

Senator Wedgwood entered the Parliament with a particular interest in pension entitlements, contending that ‘the character of a nation can be easily determined by its attitude to its young, its brave, and its aged’. The developing Senate committee system provided many opportunities for Wedgwood to pursue her interest in and responsibility for social welfare issues. In 1968 she became the first woman to chair a Senate select committee when she headed an inquiry into medical and hospital costs which recommended ways to improve and expand the voluntary health insurance scheme. In 1970 she was chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare when it presented a landmark report on mentally and physically handicapped persons in Australia. For more than fifteen years, Wedgwood was a member and sole woman on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, which had authority to examine the financial affairs of government authorities.

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1967.

Dame Ivy Wedgwood with her husband Jack Kearns Wedgwood.