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Victorian Collections -

Breaking the Mould: The first police women in Victoria

30 Oct 2017

An account of the first police women in Victoria.

Curated By

Rachael Cottle, Volunteer, Victoria Police Museum

14 items with audio


14 items

Album - Maldon Brass Band - Live in Concert 2006

Maldon Brass Band Inc., Maldon

Trireme Replica - Paralos

Plutarch Project, Caulfield Junction

Wooden replica model ship that is an exact replica of the ancient Athenian trireme making it unique in the world since there's no other such replica made. Great care was exercised to ensure that it will include all functionality and detail of the ancient ship used to by the Athenians to fight in the Sea battle of Salamis and beyond. Mr Denis Paraskevatos constructed the Paralos Trireme over a period of eighteen months. Mr Paraskevatos relayed the history of his Trireme. The first Trireme was constructed in Greece by the shipbuilder Aminoklis in 704BC, originating from Corinth. The first four Triremes he constructed were ordered by a Poliykrates from Samos, thus the ships were known as Samines. Poliykrates realised he would be able to use the Triremes for his own benefit against invading pirates, as well as to engage in activities of piracy himself. The Athenians built 200 Triremes for the battle of Salamis, all constructed over a period of eighteen months. This was a huge feat, on average a new ship was build every second day. Triremes were primarily used in sea battles, however there were two unique Triremes, the Salaminia and the Paralos, which were considered Holy and only used for Ambassadors and Consulates on overseas trips. Mr Paraskevatos’ Trireme is the Paralos. The term Paralos derives from the Greek social class from the shores, or the merchant classes. Greece was divided into three basic social classes. The mountain region, the plateaus or fields bound to agriculture, and those from the shores. Paralia translates to from the shore. The Paralia were an important class in influencing the democracy. They were divergent group who would deliberately vote on the contrary to everyone else. This is how the Trireme was born. Every Trireme held between 20-50 soldiers, and either 170 or 174 oarsmen. Mr Paraskevatos’ Trireme is a 174 oarsmen ship. The role of the oarsmen was difficult and specialised. When engaged in sea battle and the wind was not enough, the navy would remove the masts and leave them on shore and solely use the oarsmen, leaving the deck clear. However when there were sufficient winds and both the sails and oars were in use the oarsmen had to show great skill in manoeuvrability. When the oarsmen were not needed to manoeuvre the ship they also engaged in battle.

Historical information

The name Trireme comes from its distinct three rows of oars/oarsmen. The first tier of rowers were known as the Thranites, translating to Thrones. They were the most prestigious, and worked the hardest because their oars were furthest away from the water and therefore had to work harder. They were usually younger and they were paid one and a half drachma per day, half a drachma more than the other two tiers of rowers who were paid one drachma per day. After a few years working as Thranites, each was moved down into the second tier, the Zygites. Zygites derives from the word balance, as the second tier was balanced in the middle. After more years again, oarsmen were moved down into the third and final tier, known as the Thalamites. The Thalamites were consistently wet due to the proximity of their tier to the water. The water would leak through the gaps where the oars entered the ships despite the leather skins used to close the openings.


This is a unique specimen made by D. Paraskevatos, in that it is the only one of its kind in the world that has been built to the exact specifications of the Athenian vessel. It was built in Melbourne and it also has historic and artistic value

Oral history - Sergeant Eileen Rainford

Victoria Police Museum, Docklands

Digital archive of oral history of former police woman Eileen Rainford. Cut for exhibition purposes

Historical information

Eileen Rainford is a retired Sergeant who joined Victoria Police as one of only eight police women in 1952. Born in England, she served with Liverpool police, patrolling the docks, prior to moving to Australia. Speaking numerous languages, including Polish and German, Rainford worked as a translator and radio broadcaster during and after the second world war. On moving to Australia Rainford joined Victoria Police, where as one of only eight policewomen, she noted a major difference in public attitude towards women working in the force. In this interview, Rainford reflects on these different attitudes and her roles at numerous stations.

Oral History - Senior Sergeant Myrene Purcell

Victoria Police Museum, Docklands

Digital archive of oral history of former Senior Sergeant Myrene Purcell. Cut for exhibition purposes.

Historical information

Myrene Purcell is a retired Detective and Senior Sergeant with Victoria Police. In 1975 she applied for a transfer to the Criminal Investigation Branch and later trained at the Detective Training School.She was a member of the Sexual Offences Squad, which was the first squad of female officers and detectives, who were to investigate rapes and sexual offences in Victoria. In this interview, Purcell discusses her training, career and experiences of discrimination.

Men's Soccer Jersey

Plutarch Project, Caulfield Junction

Men's navy blue and white soccer jersey, with white collar and inscriptions. Has Thessaloniki logo across the chest and in white writing, S.S.I. logo, and Pronto Refrigeration logo of same name sponsor. S.S.I. manufacturer logo also on white collar. Polyester material and part "A" of a two piece uniform.

Historical information

Full uniform used by Thessaloniki Association's soccer team in a tournament organised as part of "Dimitria" celebrations in soccer matches, outdoor and indoor.


Historical significance for the purposes it was used by Thessaloniki Association "The White Tower", in indoor and outdoor soccer matches

Inscriptions & Markings

Thessaloniki, S.S.I., Pronto Refrigeration

Photo of early men - Men working

Ringwood and District Historical Society, Ringwood



One of our earliest photographs

Inscriptions & Markings

Writing on back

Old boys Song - Recording

Old Castlemaine Schoolboys Association Inc., CASTLEMAINE

Recording of Old Boys song sung to the tune of "Home Town Week". Sung by Jim Ottery

Sound recording - Gerard Menses - move to Cooparoo

Vision Australia,

1 wmv file

Historical information

Gerard Menses, Vision Australia's CEO, discusses the movement of Vision Australia (formerly Vision QLD and RBFQ) from Kent Street to Cooparoo.

Polydor 78rpm record - Tales from the Vienna Wood

Williamstown High School , Williamstown

78 rpm recording of the Williamstown High School choir singing 'Tales from the Vienna Wood.' Also includes an mp3 version.

Inscriptions & Markings

See images above: Image 78.1.jpg - On A side of record:'Tales from the Vienna Wood' The Williamstown High School Choir. Image 78.2.jpg - On B side of record: 'Melodies of Schubert' The Williamstown High School Choir.

Oral History - Deirdre Farrell

Glen Eira City Council History and Heritage Collection, Caulfield

Digital recording of an oral history interview taken by Cameron Auty with Deirdre Farrell. Supplementary files include photographs of Deirdre's father Les Campbell, a WWI veteran, Les' service record and a research file created by Deirdre.

Historical information

This interview was recorded in May 2016 as part of the Wounded Soldier exhibition. The Wounded Soldier ran in November 2016, exploring No. 11 Australian General Military Hospital (later Caulfield Hospital) and its impact on Glen Eira's community during and after the First World War. The audio file catalogued here is an edited excerpt from the larger interview, designed for use in the exhibition. Deirdre Farrell trained as a nurse at Caulfield Hospital in the 1960's. Her father Les Campbell was a First World War veteran, and Deirdre grew up on a soldier settlement farm. This interview explores her childhood, her relationship with her father, her experience of repatriation medicine and her memories of Caulfield Hospital.


This oral history is significant as the firsthand testimony of the child of a First World War veteran and for its recollections of Caulfield Hospital in the 1960's.

Boy's Costume Jacket - Παιδική στολή τσιολιά

Plutarch Project, Caulfield Junction

This is a jacket for boys that is worn as part of the six piece traditional costume. It is navy blue in color and has gold and silver embroidery along the edges. It has silver buttons and a silky orange lining

Historical information

This is part of a contemporary traditional costume worn by males in parades and theatre productions these days, however worn by soldiers in battle during war times in Greece in the 18th - 19th century

Oral history - Senior Sergeant Joan Paffett and Edna Meadows

Victoria Police Museum, Docklands

Digital archive of oral history of former police women Joan Paffett and Edna Meadows (nee Fyfe). Cut for exhibition purposes.

Historical information

Joan Paffett and Edna Meadows (nee Fyfe) are former police women. Joan Paffett was Senior Sergeant 15275. During her service she supervised other police women, including the all female squad in the early 1970s. Edna Meadows, registered number 15484, began her career as a nurse but later joined Victoria Police. Both women were the only women in their squads and began their careers with the Women Police Division at Russell St. In this interview they discuss their experiences joining the force and training

Recording - Dave Oliver recording on the history of Cockatoo 1995

Cockatoo History & Heritage Group, Cockatoo

Audio File, originally recorded on cassette


After the devastating fires that hit Cockatoo on February 16th 1983. Dot Griffin recorded many of Cockatoo's earlier residents so their stories weren't lost like so much of Cockatoo's written history.

Oral History - Chief Inspector Bryan Kelly

Victoria Police Museum, Docklands

Digital archive of oral history of former Chief Inspector Bryan Kelly. Cut for exhibition purposes.

Historical information

Bryan Kelly is a former Chief Inspector at Victoria Police, and former president of the Victoria Police Legacy. In 1980 he was awarded the Queens Police Medal for dedication to the welfare of police families. Kelly was involved in the appointment of some of the first police women to stations outside the CBD, including Springvale. In this interview, Kelly discusses the role he played in employing more police women and reminisces about police women's experiences in the 1970s.