HomeNewsCall for more women to be honoured in public spaces

Call for more women to be honoured in public spaces

May Wirth
Bundaberg-born “wizard rider” May Wirth has been remembered by the National Portrait Gallery.

Mayor Jack Dempsey has asked Bundaberg Region residents to put forward ideas for local women who could be acknowledged in public memorials.

Mayor Dempsey said he was inspired to pursue the concept after learning about a petition to State Parliament by eight-year-old, Malia Knox, calling for greater representation from women and girls in public spaces.

“The idea has a lot of merit,” he said.

“Let’s face it, most of our public statues and monuments honour the memory of famous men. I’m not questioning their worthiness, just agreeing there’s a lack of women.

“There’s an opportunity here, with Government support, to encourage public art and recognise some of the amazing achievements of women who were born in the Bundaberg Region or made significant contributions here and elsewhere.”

Mayor Dempsey said he was starting a community conversation.

Without offering an exhaustive list, he put forward a few names for consideration:

Margaret Mittelheuser (1931-2013)

She was the first female stockbroker in Australia and one of the first female stockbrokers in the world. Born in Bundaberg, her family moved to Brisbane where she won a place at The University of Queensland when she was only 16, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1952.

Gladys Moncrieff
Gladys Moncrieff performing in the 1930s.

Gladys Moncrieff (1892-1976)

She was a Bundaberg-born singer who was so successful in musical theatre and recordings that she became known as “Australia's Queen of Song” and “Our Glad”.

Florence Broadhurst (1899-1977)

A talented designer whose works are still sold today. She lived a colourful life and died in tragic circumstances.

Mary Hannay Foott (1846-1918)

Born in Glasgow, she was a poet, journalist and teacher who lived out her days in Bundaberg. In 1885, she published her best-known collection of poetry, Where The Pelican Builds and Other Poems.

May Wirth (1894-1978)

Circus Hall of Fame member May Wirth, born at Bundaberg in 1894, has been described as “one of the greatest female acrobats on horseback of all times”.

“There are many others who could be added to a list for consideration,” Mayor Dempsey said.

Other suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Thanks Mayor Jack Dempsey for being the first mayor to respond to Malia Knox’s campaign.

Posted by Shannon Fentiman MP on Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Attorney-General and Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman, said there are only three statues of women in Brisbane and she applauded Malia for her efforts and work towards gender equality.

“It’s fantastic to see young Queenslanders like Malia are passionate about gender equality, speaking out and calling for change,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We know there is a huge disparity between male and female representation across our public monuments thanks to Malia’s work on her #femalefaces4publicplaces project.

“I always say ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, and if we can honour women’s achievements and have them on display for young girls everywhere, then we are helping to show young girls that they can do anything.”



  1. may i suggest that a German Lady, a very old settler, who came to queensland in 1871 and settled in Bundaberg around 1875. She had 12 children, two deceased by the time her first husband died. her name was Sophia Dorothea Maria Regina Dittmann, ne Holz Auf Der Heide.
    one of her achievements was the delivery of so many children that were all bush births. her mother, Elizabeth also was quite skilled in the art of bush deliveries. without these people, a lot of family names would not exist in Bundaberg to this very day. somehow, people loose track of importance of these early times.

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