Women's Groups 2013 - Soroptimist International of Western Australia

Soroptimist International of Western Australia

Purpose of the group

Soroptimist International is a worldwide organisation for women in management and the professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women.

Soroptimists strive to achieve their goal through awareness, advocacy and action and also aim to have fun while they are doing it. The word soroptimist is related to two Latin words: ‘soror’ meaning sister and ‘optima’ meaning best. Soroptimists describe themselves as women at their best, helping others to be their best. They aim to be a global voice for women.

Soroptimist International is committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. They are committed to serving local, national and international communities and active participation in decision-making at all levels of society.

Soroptimist International has consultative status at the United Nations, working through Soroptimist UN representatives. There are about 90,000 women in 3,000 clubs from 123 countries belonging to the organisation. WA is one of 21 regions in the Federation of South West Pacific and Soroptimist International of WA is the coordinating body for clubs in the region.

Time period

Soroptimist International established its first WA branch in Perth in 1949 and became a region in 1953 with the charter of the Fremantle Club. It is an ongoing organisation with about 300 members in WA.

Key achievements

Soroptimist International currently has 18 branches in WA: Albany, Cambridge, Canning District, Carnarvon, Darling Range, Fremantle, Geraldton, Helena, Joondalup, Karratha and District, Maylands Peninsula, On The Terrace, Perth, Port Hedland, Riverside, Rockingham, South Perth and Mandurah, chartered in September 2012.

For many years, the region supported the Asthma Foundation of WA, hosting an annual gala evening to raise funds for a children’s camp. More recently, with a change of focus to ‘educate to lead’, the region supports a program of leadership and skills development for disadvantaged women in conjunction with Women’s Health and Family Services and Challenger Institute of Technology.

Nationally and locally, the group’s advocacy promotes issues of concern to women, such as domestic violence and the recent bone density scan petition, requesting the Federal Government reduce the age of eligibility for the Medicare rebate from the current age of 70.

Individual clubs regularly develop projects that meet their local needs, often with clubs working together. Most clubs are involved with supporting women’s refuges while other themes include women’s health issues, leadership development for women and girls and environmental projects.

Internationally, Soroptimists work with other non-government organisations, helping women and girls through health programs, education and skills training and micro-credit. Several WA clubs are involved in projects in Timor L’este, Bali, Thailand and Cambodia, as well as contributing to the Federation Project, currently in Papua New Guinea.

Annually, Soroptimists in WA present the Stella Giles Award for Excellence to a woman for research, or towards the costs of running a project, which will be of immediate benefit for women or girls. The award is up to $3,000.

Key people and positions in the group

  • Stella Giles (nee Ryan) held many positions in the Perth club including president and secretary and chartered 10 clubs as region extension officer.
  • Margaret Lobo held region and Federation positions before becoming international president from 2007–2009. She was awarded an Order of Australia in 2011.
  • Recent presidents have included Heather Joppek, Naomi Glasson, Berenice Ritchie, Julie Ham, Marilyn Fowler, Robyn Cain, Sue Eagleton, Annie Carswell and Jeanette Brown.


  • Website: http://www.soroptimist-wa.org.au.
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SoroptimistWA.
  • Information provided by Julie Ham.

Article Index
Women's Groups 2013
Abortion Law Repeal Association/Association for the Legal Right to Abortion (ALRA)
American Women's Club of Perth (AWC)
Association of Civilian Widows of WA Inc
Australian College of Midwives WA Branch (ACM)
Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA)
Beta Sigma Phi
Business and Professional Women Western Australia (BPW)
Catholic Women’s League of Western Australia (Inc)
Chrysalis House Women's Refuge
Cine-Matrix: Women in Film and Television WA
Cockburn Women’s Peace Camp
Combined Equal Pay Committee/WA Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity
Community Midwifery WA
Country Women’s Association (CWA)
Domestic Violence Action Group (Geraldton)
Emily’s List
Equal Opportunity Law Reform Coalition
Fremantle Women’s Health Centre (FWHC)
Girl Guides WA
Graduate Women Western Australia (GWWA)/Australian Federation of University Women (AFUW) Western Australia
Grapevine/Perth Wimmin’s Collective
Gretel Club of Perth (Inc)
Harvest Guild
Incest Survivors Association (Inc.)
Inner Wheel Australia
Inside Out Project
Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre
Kalgoorlie Auxiliary of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Karrakatta Club
Labor Women’s Association
Lespar Library
Living Child Inc.—Safe Village Births
Lutheran Women WA
Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre
Mining Mums
Modern Women's Club
Mothers’ Union Australia
Movement for the Ordination of Women
Muslim Women’s Support Centre of WA (Inc)
National Council of Women of Western Australia (previously known as West Australian National Council of Women and Western Australian National Council of Women)
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia—WA section (NCJWA)
Nintirri Centre
Older Women’s Network (OWN WA)
Penguin Club
Perth Ionian Club
Polyhymnia Reading Group
Rape Crisis Line
Rural Remote Regional Women’s Network (RRR)
Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC)
Sibyl/University of Western Australia Student Guild Women’s Collective
Society of Women Writers WA
Soroptimist International of Western Australia
Starick Services Inc
Status of Women Committee WA—Australian Labor Party
Tradeswomen on the Move
UN Women Australia (formerly UNIFEM Australia)—Perth Chapter Young UN Women Perth Chapter
Union of Australian Women—WA Branch
V.I.E.W. Western Australia
West Australian Women’s Society of Fine Arts and Crafts
War Widows’ Guild
Warrawee Women’s Refuge
Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL)
West Australian Housewives’ Association (Inc)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Women in Media
Women’s Information Referral Exchange (WIRE)
Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of Western Australia
Women in Education Coalition
Women in Mining WA (WIMWA)
Women in Sailing (WIS)
Women in Sport Committee of the Western Australian Sports Council
Women in Technology WA (Inc) (WiTWA)
Women Lawyers of Western Australia (Inc) (WLWA)
Women with Disabilities WA Inc (WWDWA)
Women’s Action Alliance (WAA)
Women’s Advisory Council (WAC)
Women’s Broadcasting Cooperative
Women’s Committee of State School Teachers’ Union WA Executive
Women's Committee of the Waterside Workers Federation
Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services (WA)/Women’s Refuge Group of WA (WRG)
Women’s Health and Family Services/Women’s Health Care House/Perth Women’s Centre/Women’s Health Service
Women’s Information Service (WIS)
Women’s Interest Network
Women in Engineering WA (WIE WA)
Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO)
Women’s Liberation
Women’s Service Guilds
Women’s Studies Group
Yanay Yanma
YWCA of Perth
Zonta International
Additional Groups
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