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Florence May (Flo) Edmonds (1919–2004)

by Allison Murchie

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Florence May (Flo) Edmonds, née Tiller (1919-2004) women’s activist

Birth: 4 November 1919 at Moonyoonooka, Western Australia, daughter of native-born parents John Bruce Tiller (1896-c.1937), violinist and General Motors Holden worker, and Jessie Louisa, née Webber (1894-1947), housewife and piano teacher. Marriage: details unknown, to Maurice James Christian Edmonds (1913-2005), born in London, England. They had four children. Death: 27 May 2004 in Adelaide, South Australia. 

  • Came to South Australia at age of three. Educated at East Adelaide Primary School, and Norwood Technical School.
  • Was a shop assistant; joined union then sacked for asking for a wage rise. Worked in fruitgrowers’ factory. Member of Women's Temperance Union.
  • Worked at Simpson's in munitions section in 1940, a member of Ironworkers Union. Worked on inspecting bomb cases. Was a shop steward.
  • Met Val O'Neill from the Housewives' Association and subsequently joined the association. She took her to the Young Workers' Association where they talked about politics and socialism. Met Snowy Malonea, a leading Communist who was killed in Spain. She was an office worker at the Communist Party of Australia office and then a waitress. The military took over 3 rooms of their 6-room house in order to billet soldiers coming back from the Middle East.
  • She went on the Beef March with her mother and baby in a pram. Fifty years later she spoke at the re-enactment of the Beef March.
  • Treasurer of New Housewives' Association, it eventually closed down and became the national Union of Australian Women. In 1939 she went on her first march for International Women’s Day, she then started attending meetings. Ray Ballantyne was Secretary and organiser of IWD committee.
  • In 1940 organised the Cavalcade of Women at the Town Hall for the New Housewives' Association, it was the first big activity she was involved in organising; Barbara Polkinghorne also in Parade, they both wore overalls to represent factory workers; Betty Trosser read from 'LaPasionaria' about Communist Spanish women leader Dolores Ibarruri.
  • Secretary of IWD committee and organised another Cavalcade of Women 1960; held IWD luncheons at the YWCA hall and had guest speakers.
  • Protested at Parliament House to support Aboriginal issues.
  • She was part of the UAW apron campaign; went into the streets to collect signatures for peace campaigns. A member of Peace Committee to support petitions and demonstrations. On IWD International Children's Day committee and organised concerts.

Sources
Oral History interview by Celia Frank, held at State Library of SA.

Citation details

Allison Murchie, 'Edmonds, Florence May (Flo) (1919–2004)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/edmonds-florence-may-flo-33536/text41910, accessed 14 June 2024.

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