Women aldermen and councillors of Woollahra

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Fifty years of service – 1960-2010

Throughout 2010 Australia will celebrate the Year of Women in Local Government. The year 2010 also marks fifty years of participation by women as elected representatives in the local government of Woollahra. The first woman alderman, Amanda (Belle) Miller was elected in December 1959, and over the ensuing fifty years, twenty-six women have followed in her footsteps.

Nine women have reached the position of deputy mayor, and eight have served a term as mayor, with one woman alderman, Hylda Rolfe, having served as mayor for two terms. The first woman to occupy the mayoral chair was Brenda (Dutchie) Backhouse, in 1979.

Rose Watson, who represented the people of the Vaucluse ward for over sixteen years, is the longest-serving woman councillor of this first fifty-year period.

The following is an alphabetical list of our women representatives, 1960-2010.

Backhouse, Brenda Somerville (Dutchie) 1972-1980 Dutchie

  • Mayor: 1979
  • Deputy Mayor: 1976, 1978
  • First woman deputy mayor
  • First woman mayor
  • First woman to chair a meeting of Council, 24 Nov 1975

Bilmon, Mairaed 1996-1999
Mairaed Bilmon

  • Mayor: 1999

Blumberg, Carlene 1991-1995

Carter, Margaret L 1983-1991

  • Deputy Mayor: 1989

Cassidy, Elaine Armgard 1980-1995
Elaine Cassidy

  • Mayor: 1989
  • Deputy Mayor: 1988

Collett, Susan Margaret 1980-1991

  • Mayor: 1988
  • Deputy Mayor: 1987

Corrigan, Valerie May 1996-2004

Crawford, Susan May (Sue) 2000-2004

Cullen, Claudia 2004-2008

Edelman, Lucienne 2008-

Excell, Tanya 2004-2008

Gardner, Willhemina 2004-2008

Gray, Beatrice A 1987-1991

  • Deputy Mayor: 1990

Grieve, Nicola 2008-

Huxley, Keri 2000-2008
Keri Huxley

  • Mayor: 2006
  • Deputy Mayor: 2004

Jarnason, Susan 2008-

Lemech, Catherine E 1983-1995
Catherine Lemech

  • Mayor: 1992
  • Deputy Mayor: 1993

May, Judith Ann 1978-1983

  • Mayor: 1983
  • Deputy Mayor: 1982

Miller, Amanda Isabelle (Belle) 1960-1971
Isabelle Miller

  • First woman alderman
  • Founder of the Woollahra Voluntary Community Service

Rolfe, Hylda Anne 1980-1991

  • Mayor: 1986, 1990
  • Deputy Mayor: 1985
  • Only woman to date (2010) to have served twice as mayor

Shapiro, Isabelle 2004-

  • Mayor: 2010

Sinclair King, Fiona 2000-2008

Stephens, Wendy M 1966-1968

  • Second woman alderman

Watson, Rose 1987-2004
Rose Watson

  • Longest serving woman councillor to date (2010)

Wrublewski, Cynthia 2000-2004

Wynne, Susan 2008-

  • Mayor: 2011

Zeltzer, Toni 2008-

  • Mayor: 2013


  1. The year given as the first of a councillor's period of service indicates the first full calendar year served – Local Government elections having been held in the final quarter of the preceding year. For example, Belle Miller was elected to Council in December 1959. An exception to this pattern applies to those councillors elected for the first time at the election held in March 2004, which had been delayed by six months.
  2. The term ‘Councillor' was re-introduced in 1993.