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Irene Longman Reserve

Irene Longman Reserve

Author: Jennifer Middleton
Author Role: Assistant Principal - Teaching and Learning

On International Women's Day, the Barrack Road Sports Fields were renamed Irene Longman Reserve, in recognition of Queensland's first female parliamentarian - a woman with the 'temerity and hide to enter a man's domain'  in 1929.

Being a woman, she was never allowed to use the parliamentary dining room and so, found sanctuary in the library and ate her meals on the verandah. As well, there were no female toilets in the parliament building.

While in Parliament, she was responsible for the first appointment of a Queensland woman police officer and campaigned for the welfare of children, which included moving the venue of the Children's Court (away from the undesirable surroundings of the precincts of the Police Court).

Irene trained as a Kindergarten Teacher and, from 1913 to 1915, was a supervisor and trainer for the recently established Crèche and Kindergarten Association. She married Zoologist and Naturalist, Heber Longman, in 1904 and retired from public life in World War II to care for him.

Her parliamentary life was short-lived, losing her seat in 1932. Although she urged younger women to stand for public office in the years following her defeat, it was a lasting disappointment that no woman succeeded in following her into State parliament during her lifetime. It is encouraging that there are currently 30 women in Queensland State Parliament.

Women need not be afraid that they will be overpowered by the intellect of the men in the House. I found, and I think the position remains, that there were only a few men on either side of the House who were as mentally alert as the women with whom I worked.

Irene Longman passed away in 1964 after decades of service to the others in Queensland.  It seems fitting that a sports field, used by students from Prep to Year 12 has been named in her honour, given her long history of work in the field of the welfare of women and especially children. 

Sources:
Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irene_Longman,
Murphy, Ryan (March 8 2018) https://www.ryanmurphy.com.au/news/2018/3/6/pressforprogress-rename-barrack-road-park-to-irene-longman-reserve
O'Keefe, Mary (1986) Australian Directory of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/longman-irene-maud-7228
Sweetman, Terry (17 August 2013) Courier Mail, https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/the-acceptance-of-women-in-queensland-parliament-has-been-a-long-road/news-story/fb106dce42865223617b1ccbe320ffc2
Swain, Shurlee, Women In Australia, http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0196b.htm