A.N.A. was not an inclusive organisation by today’s insights. Although considered progressive, some aspects of A.N.A. carried contemporary prejudices and social barriers. Reflecting and apologising for this can be an informative reminder of potentially unrecognised prejudices in our current customs, laws and social behaviour, advantaging and privileging some groups over others, which we may regret with the wisdom of hindsight.

In 1871, Australian born men themselves felt disenfranchised. Barriers to A.N.A. membership were the membership dues, exclusion of women and people born outside Australia. In the same year, women were excluded from voting. Most women could not own property by colonial laws. Women were subservient to their fathers, husbands or brothers.

By the 1890s women were increasingly in the workforce. Some were able to afford A.N.A. membership dues but were still excluded. Clifton Hill Branch proposed unsuccessfully at the 1896 Annual Conference that A.N.A. should assist the formation of a parallel women’s organisation. Considerations continued.

In November 1900 the Australasian Women’s Association (AWA) was operating. Eventually AWA had 71 Branches across Victoria. A.N.A.’s later commitment to the Federal Government’s restricted immigration policy is further evidence of A.N.A.’s inclination to exclude some groups from Australian society. AWA amalgamated with ANA in 1964 at which time women were admitted as full members of ANA.