Zelda D'Aprano

Zelda D'Aprano (b.1928) grew up in poverty, left school early and held working-class jobs. She was a communist and unionist before embracing women’s liberation. In October 1969 she twice chained herself to public buildings in Melbourne to highlight the case for equal pay. She was a founder of the Women’s Action Committee in 1970. Her autobiography, Zelda, recorded her struggles.


21 October 1969

Equal pay campaign

On 21 October Zelda D’Aprano chains herself to the Commonwealth Building in Melbourne after attending the Equal Pay Case in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. She was frustrated by the way women were excluded from the arguments while their pay case was being debated, like ‘cows at the sale yards, while all the men out the front presented arguments as to how much we were worth’. Her actions raise public awareness of the Equal Pay Case, and the Commission finally recognises equal pay for work of equal value in 1972, to be fully implemented by 1975.


Equal pay activist Zelda D’Aprano chained to the front doors of the Commonwealth Building in Melbourne, 16 April 1970.