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25 Times Australian Women Won In 2017

We're a sporty bunch.

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1. When the first ever national AFL women's comp was a raging success.

Adelaide Crows captain Erin Phillips.
Morne De Klerk / Getty Images

Adelaide Crows captain Erin Phillips.

Australia's first-ever national AFL women's competition was successful from day one in February when the season opener between Carlton and Collingwood at Ikon Park attracted a crowd of just over 24,500, and fans were lining up to get in.

The inaugural AFLW flag was claimed by the Adelaide Crows, led by Olympic basketballer and supermum Erin Phillips, with a seven-point win over the Lions in the grand final.

The new league is the closest equivalent to the male-only AFL Australia has ever had, but the women’s league is not technically “professional” as players only get paid for a 20-hour week for the eight-week season.

Although this competition was long overdue – the Victorian Football League, which became the AFL, started more than a century ago in 1896 – it is by no means the beginning of women's footy in Australia.

The first Australian rules women's football match took place in 1915, and there have been local and state competitions running since.

The knock-on effect of female representation in AFL has been seen in NSW and ACT, where female participation in the sport has increased a whopping 78%.

However, the competition drew criticism for excluding transgender athlete Hannah Mouncey from the league.

2. When endometriosis was finally taken seriously.

Staras / Getty Images

The Australian government this month announced the first plan to improve treatment for endometriosis, which affects more than 600,000 women across the nation.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to that which normally lines the inside of the uterus grows externally, typically on ovaries, fallopian tubes, or pelvic organs.

This can cause severe pain, inflammation, and even the formation of scar tissue.

Health minister Greg Hunt apologised to women suffering from the condition that nothing had been done sooner, and announced the government would provide $160,000 in immediate funding to professor Grant Montgomery to continue his work using genomics to investigate better treatments for women with endometriosis.

A targeted call for endometriosis research will also be issued under the government's Medical Research Future Fund.

3. When abortion was decriminalised in the Northern Territory.


A law that decriminalised abortion and legalised the medical termination of pregnancy was passed through the Northern Territory Parliament in March.

Medical abortion drugs like RU486 are now legal in the territory for up to nine weeks gestation, abortions are able to be performed outside of hospitals in private clinics, and doctors who conscientiously object to abortion now have to refer women seeking the procedure to another doctor.

Safe access zones were also established under the new law to protect patient privacy and prevent harassment from protesters outside clinics and hospitals.

4. When this newborn became the first baby to be breastfed in federal parliament.

Lukas Coch / AAP

Greens codeputy leader Larissa Waters returned to parliament in May for the first time since giving birth to her second daughter in March.

Six-week-old Alia Joy made political history during her debut in the chamber when she became the first baby to be breastfed in federal parliament.

Breastfeeding has been permitted in the chamber since 2003, but Alia became the first to actually be fed.

Waters later resigned from the Senate as the second politician hit by the section 44 dual citizenship issue that dominated politics in 2017.

5. When Australia banned some mesh products.

Carina Anderson, a member of the class action against Johnson & Johnson, outside the federal court in Sydney, on 4 July.
Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Carina Anderson, a member of the class action against Johnson & Johnson, outside the federal court in Sydney, on 4 July.

Transvaginal mesh products used to treat pelvic organ prolapse were banned this month by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration after a review found "the benefits do not outweigh the risks these products pose to patients".

"Due to the poor quality of the studies undertaken, the evidence to support the use of these meshes for transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse repair, particularly, posterior repair, is not well established," the administration said.

Urogynaecological meshes, sometimes known as transvaginal meshes, are inserted into women as a treatment option for pelvic organ prolapse (when the connective tissue securing the vagina and uterus to the pelvis gives way after childbirth) or urinary incontinence.

An Australian Senate inquiry into transvaginal meshes is expected to report back in February next year.

It was set up to find out exactly how many women have had transvaginal mesh implants and, of those, how many experienced adverse side effects.

More than 100 women have written to the inquiry — here are the most heartbreaking submissions.

Many submissions were from some of the 700 Australian women currently in court fighting Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, in a class action brought by Shine Lawyers, which claims vaginal medical devices left women "suffering painful and life-altering complications".

6. When women in Australia's music industry banded together to speak out about harassment and assault.

Sexual assault by frontmen, unsolicited dick pics from music bosses, groping hands of band managers.

These were the experiences of some of the hundreds of Australian artists, musicians, managers, booking agents, and publicists who shared their stories in an open letter speaking out about sexual harassment and assault in the music industry.

"We are not whingers or vibe-killers," the letter, which has been signed by the Veronicas, Missy Higgins, and Tina Arena, reads.

"We are passionate people dedicating our lives to music. In the face of uncountable discrimination, harassment, violence, and the general menace of sexist jargon, we have gritted our teeth and gotten on with the job. But today we say, no more."

7. When Victoria got it's first-ever female Indigenous MP.

Lidia Thorpe addresses the crowd at a protest in Debney's Park in Flemington, Melbourne, on 17 Dec.
James Ross / AAPIMAGE

Lidia Thorpe addresses the crowd at a protest in Debney's Park in Flemington, Melbourne, on 17 Dec.

Victorian Parliament's first Indigenous woman vowed to make sure Aboriginal voices were heard when she was sworn in in November.

In her maiden speech, Greens MP Lidia Thorpe said she was raised in public housing and left school at 14 and wanted to set an example for Indigenous children.

“I promise that I will fight for you to have the opportunities that I never had,” Thorpe said, before paying tribute to her “long line of strong Aboriginal women relatives.”

8. When Penny Wong responded to a male politician interrupting her.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

Labor Senator Penny Wong kept getting interrupted by Liberal National Senator Ian Macdonald.

Senator Wong, who is gay, was having none of it.

"Thank you mr president, the senator Macdonald really does have an unhealthy obsession with me," Wong said.

"But I digress."

Macdonald obviously kept interrupting. One comment, heard by Wong but not audible to those in the press gallery, caused her to snap back.

"You're not my type either mate, don't worry about it."

Look, you just have to watch it.

9. When Australian uni students spoke up about harassment and assault on campus.


Students hauled mattresses up to Parliament House in Canberra in July to demand governments and universities better address sexual assaults on campus.

The protesters had a list of 12 demands including: a permanent 1800 hotline that deals specifically with sexual misconduct at universities; on-campus reporting and support services with specialist trauma counsellors; greater education for students and staff on consent and bystander training; and an overhaul of reporting procedures to make them more accessible and "survivor friendly".

In her foreword to the landmark report on campus sexual assault, released in August, Australian sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins wrote it was an "unavoidable conclusion" that universities must do more to support victims of abuse, and sanction perpetrators.

But since the report and the responses to it landed, advocates have said loud and clear that they are unconvinced universities will actually make changes to crack down on perpetrators.

10. When Australia killed it at the women's Rugby World Cup.

Lavina O'Mealey (left) of Australia in action during the Women's Rugby League World Cup Final.
Darren England / AAPIMAGE

Lavina O'Mealey (left) of Australia in action during the Women's Rugby League World Cup Final.

Australia women's rugby league team, the Jillaroos, successfully defended its Rugby League World Cup title with a 23–16 win over New Zealand in December.

The first half saw both sides ahead, with New Zealand establishing a 10–6 lead within the first 30 minutes, before Australia responded to inch ahead 12–10 at halftime, thanks to the team's rising star Caitlin Moran, who scored four minutes out from halftime.

In the second half, Jillaroo forward Elianna Walton scored, and Australia's victory was later sealed by Moran, who kicked a field goal with 13 seconds left in the game.

The Jillaroos first won the World Cup in 2013 when they beat three-time champions New Zealand.

11. And we killed it at football.

Samantha Kerr
Tony Feder / Getty Images

Samantha Kerr

The Matildas went through the Tournament of Nations undefeated en route and won it, defeating the USA for the first time.

The team then contested two sell-out friendly matches against Brazil in Penrith and Newcastle in September before defeating China twice in November.

The mammoth year saw the Matildas ranked fourth in the FIFA World Rankings, their highest rank ever.

The team's breakthrough star Sam Kerr was named Asia's best female player at the annual Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards last month.

12. When Gladys Berejiklian became the first Liberal female state premier ever.

Gladys Berejiklian
Pool / Getty Images

Gladys Berejiklian

In January, Gladys Berejiklian was elected unopposed as the leader of the NSW Liberal party, and therefore 45th premier of the state following the shock retirement of Mike Baird.

The daughter of Armenian migrants, Berejiklian has held the northern Sydney seat of Willoughby since 2003.

Berejiklian is a moderate from the left faction of the Liberal party, which means on many issues she is socially progressive and economically conservative. She supports same-sex marriage, is reportedly compassionate towards the plight of refugees, but has never given a public opinion about Sydney's controversial lock-out laws.

13. When vans with misogynistic slogans were banned in multiple states.

Wicked Campers van.
Wicked Pickets/Facebook

Wicked Campers van.

The push to outlaw campervans coated in derogatory slogans is gaining momentum across Australia.

Queensland's parliament passed a bill in February allowing the state's transport department to cancel a vehicle's registration if its owners do not remove offensive slogans within two weeks of being directed to do so by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).

The next day, NSW Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi announced she will also introduce a bill to ban sexist, obscene, and offensive slogans from being displayed on vehicles.

In July, Tasmania passed legislation in both houses in response to complaints about slogans displayed on rental vehicles.

If you are offended by material on a rental van, you can register your complaint on the ASB website. If a company does not remove the material, the state's Registrar of Motor Vehicles can cancel its registration.

The bills were drafted in response to years of community anger over the messages sprayed on rental vans owned by Brisbane-based Wicked Campers, which has depots around Australia.

Wicked Campers was censured in 2014 by the ASB, which ruled that one of its slogans — “Fat girls are harder to kidnap!” — breached advertising codes.

14. When same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia.

Rebecca Davies and her partner Paula Van Bruggen celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on 15 Nov in Melbourne, Australia.
Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Rebecca Davies and her partner Paula Van Bruggen celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on 15 Nov in Melbourne, Australia.

After years of hard-fought advocacy, over 20 failed bills, and an extraordinary, unprecedented national postal survey, same-sex marriage finally became the law of the land in Australia in December.

Hundreds of LGBT advocates and couples who have been waiting years for this moment watched on from the public gallery, sometimes raucously, as the House of Representatives passed a historic vote in favour of the change.

15. When the youngest ever female MP was elected in Queensland.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre), Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Meaghan Scanlon (right), and Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey during a ceremony at Government House in Brisbane, on 12 Dec.
Dan Peled / AAPIMAGE

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre), Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Meaghan Scanlon (right), and Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey during a ceremony at Government House in Brisbane, on 12 Dec.

Meaghan Scanlon will become the youngest woman ever to sit in Queensland's parliament after she officially claimed the Gold Coast seat of Gaven for Labor.

The 24-year-old lawyer toppled incumbent LNP MP Sid Cramp to help secure the majority Annastacia Palaszczuk required at the polls in December for her to form government.

"I was really inspired by fantastic female role models and realised that women do have a role in politics, and we need to put our hand up instead of just supporting men in the background like we have done traditionally," Scanlon told BuzzFeed News.

The first commitment Scanlon hopes to deliver on is to widen the Gold Coast's M1 highway to a "minimum of six lanes" from Brisbane to the NSW border.

16. When we replaced pap smears.

Jodijacobson / Getty Images

Since 1991, the pesky pap smear has been the primary screening test for cervical cancer in Australia.

In December, women aged 25 or over stopped receiving pap tests every two years and will instead have a five-yearly human papillomavirus (HPV) screening.

Here is everything you need to know.

17. When people shared pics of their Indigenous mums and it was a deadly delight.

Happy #MothersDay to my hard working and very special mummy-o! (📸@ Elands Falls) #IndigenousMums

In May, people around Australia began posting photos of their Indigenous mums to send a message about the importance of parents in Aboriginal families.

The hashtag #IndigenousMums began trending and beautiful family photos were posted by proud Indigenous children.

One of the posters, Tammy Solonec, told BuzzFeed News the inspiration came from the #IndigenousDads hashtag which trended last year in response to a cartoon by Bill Leak.

18. When the biggest pay rise in the history of women's sport in Australia happened.

Lukas Coch / AAP

In August, a pay deal in cricket was struck, which means female player payments will increase from $7.5 million to $55.2 million.

For international women's cricketers, that will see the base rate increase by 80% from $40,000 to $72,076 in the first year.

It was a mammoth year generally for women's cricket in Australia led by former Matilda Ellyse Perry, whose Australian women’s cricket team were triumphant at the Ashes victory. Perry's double century Perry in November was the highest individual score by an Australian in Women’s Tests.

When a new netball league that finally compensated players fairly started.

Just found an old contract to play for the Sydney Swifts. Happily times have changed!

In February, the Suncorp Super Netball kicked off.

The league has a new minimum salary of $27,375, which is more than double that of the previous league and its "parental policy" includes a full-time nanny for children younger than 12 months when players are on the road and prolonged maternity leave.

19. When Tanya Plibersek declared that "for Labor to be pro-women it must be pro-choice."

Tanya Plibersek
William West / AFP / Getty Images

Tanya Plibersek

For the Labor party to be pro-women it must be pro-choice, the party's deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said in March in a passionate speech about how far Australia still has to come to ensure women have reproductive freedoms.

"We need to make sure that women have autonomy over their bodies," Plibersek told those gathered at a Canberra event organised by Emily's List, a financial and support network for progressive Labor women candidates.

"Reproductive freedom is intimately tied to gender equality. For Labor to be pro-women, we must be pro-choice.

"Australia still has unfinished business on reproductive health."

20. When a new morning-after pill was made available over the counter.

Andreycherkasov / Getty Images

An emergency contraceptive that can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex was made available to Australians without a prescription in February.

Ulipristal acetate (EllaOne) is a "more effective" option than the over-the-counter single-dose levonorgestrel pill that most Australian women currently use as an emergency contraceptive, Dr Helen Calabretto, director of sexual health clinic Shine SA, told BuzzFeed News.

"The main difference is that [ulipristal acetate] can be taken for up to five days after unprotected sex rather than three days like the existing one, although, obviously, the effectiveness decreases each day," Calabretto, who completed a PhD on emergency contraception, said.

The EllaOne product information also says it should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, as this is when it will be most effective.

21. When Australia's Anglican Church elected its first female Archbishop.

Perth Archdeacon Kay Goldsworthy (centre) is applauded after being consecrated at St George's Cathedral in Perth, on 22 May 2008.
Lincoln Baker / AAPIMAGE

Perth Archdeacon Kay Goldsworthy (centre) is applauded after being consecrated at St George's Cathedral in Perth, on 22 May 2008.

Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy AO, was elected in August to lead the West Australian division.

The Archbishop-elect became the first female Anglican bishop in Australia in 2008, when she was appointed the assistant bishop of Perth.

"I'm coming to Perth to be a Bishop to the people," she said.

Currently working as the Bishop of Gippsland in Victoria, Bishop Goldsworthy will return to WA to take up her new position next year.

22. When Rebel Wilson won her defamation case against the publisher of Woman's Day.

Rebel Wilson speaks to the media on 15 June in Melbourne, Australia.
Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

Rebel Wilson speaks to the media on 15 June in Melbourne, Australia.

"It is a win for everybody who gets... taken down," she said after the legal victory in June.

"It has been an anxious wait, waiting for two days."

Wilson said she had been distracting herself by thinking about filming an upcoming movie with "fellow Aussie" Chris Hemsworth in which she will get to kiss him.

"I've just been thinking about pashing him and how good that is going to be."

Wilson has pledged to donate the $4.5 million she won in damages to charity.

23. When this TV presenter responded to the Daily Mail shaming her outfit repeating by...repeating the outfit.

I am sooo busted! Seems I've been seen hosting breakfast TV wearing same blouse with "strategic cutout above the bu…

The cohost of Channel Nine's Today show was outed as a "thrifty" outfit recycler by the Daily Mail in April when she sported a top for the second time in "just four months".

So the breakfast TV presenter stuck it to the Daily Mail by wearing the same burgundy blouse the publication described as having a "strategic cut-out just above the bust".

24. When Julia Gillard fulfilled all our dreams and became best mates with Rihanna.

Earlier this year @rihanna joined me in Malawi to see how she can help @GPforEducation shape the future for million…

Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and global pop star Rihanna teamed up to in Malawi for an important education initiative.

Earlier in the year, Gillard's Global Partnership for Education partnered with Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation to visit children who are living in one of the poorest countries in the world.

25. And finally...when our neighbour New Zealand elected a female prime minister.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Saeed Khan / AFP / Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern became the country's second-youngest prime minister and the third woman to hold the top job.

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at

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