The Woman's Christian Temperance Union [WCTU] was an international movement that began in the US in 1873. The Sydney chapter was launched in 1882. Although it was formed to stop alcohol consumption, the WCTU was a diverse group, part of the 'first wave' of feminism. Members of the WCTU believed women needed stronger rights and protections and worked for women's suffrage, lowering the female age of consent, protection of infants and affiliation proceedings. They had a significant impact on child welfare laws.
Temperance campaigners would speak on street corners, in public halls and from church pulpits, spelling out the evils and degradation caused by drunkenness. Men, women and children were urged to 'take the pledge' and swear they would never touch alcohol. The WCTU urged that bars be closed early so working men could get home to their wives. This was introduced in New South Wales in 1916. The result was the infamous 'six o'clock swill', as men piled into pubs to drink everything they could in the hour they had available. The law was repealed in 1955. The WCTU remains active, but its influence waned after World War II.
Sources used to compile this entry: Radi, Heather, ''Ardill, George Edward (1857-1945)'', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Melbourne University Press, 1979, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ardill-george-edward-5048.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 7 March 2012, Last modified: 7 May 2021