Beatrice Faust

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Beatrice Faust AO (born 19 February 1939) is an Australian author and women's activist. In 1966 she was President of the Victorian Abortion Law Repeal Association.[1] She was also a co-founder of the Women's Electoral Lobby in 1972, as also, earlier, co-founder of The Victorian Union of Civil Liberties (c.1966).


Beatrice Faust was born Beatrice Eileen Fennessey in Glen Huntly, a suburb of Melbourne, on 19 February 1939. Her mother died shortly after having given birth. This had been predicted by doctors, who knew of a uterine canal anomaly which would lead to such, however being of Roman Catholic and Irish descent the use of contraceptives was denied her parents and subsequently her mother became pregnant.

She was brought up by her father, three aunts and an extended Irish family, the union of two such, her great-grandmother Boule having arrived in Australia in 1848, as a side effect of the Potato Famine and their desire to eat and her father's having followed suit at a later date.

She attended Melbourne University in the 1950s, where she became acquainted with Germaine Greer and they extended their feminist inclinations through various cogitations, earning her bachelor's degree in English and subsequently her master's degree. Much later in her life, the higher degrees of Ph.D and LLD were conferred upon her, the former for her 1991 book Apprenticeship in Liberty and the latter for her life's work in general, as a social reformist, researcher and cogitator of humanist and feminist inclination.

The first of her two marriages was to Clive Faust, compacted during her time at university. Having become known as a public figure under that surname during that time, when they later divorced, she retained that name rather than dilute knowledge of her reputation.

She has one child, Stephen David, born out of wedlock in 1965, as a result of her relationship with the Finnish academic Adam (Aimo) Murtonen.

She was one of the first women to argue for civil liberties, abortion law reform and a well informed sex education for all.[2] In 1966 she co-founded the Victorian Union of Civil Liberties, to advocate for civil rights, and in 1972 the Women's Electoral Lobby, to agitate for legislative reform along specifically feminist lines and to give the women of Australia more of a voice in Parliament.

In 2001 Faust was awarded the Centenary Medal.[3] In 2004 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for such efforts and more.[4]

Among her early writings, she contributed to the Australian edition of The Little Red Schoolbook[5] and, during the 1970s, she wrote regularly as a reviewer of films, and also photography exhibitions, for The Age newspaper, as well as contributing to Nation Review and elsewhere. Later, in the late 1980s on into the 1990s, she had a regular column in the Weekend Australian, one result of which was a court case involving Jeff Kennett, the then Victorian Premier.

In the latter part of her career she returned to one of her earliest vocations, as a teacher, becoming a lecturer in English at, first, RMIT, Melbourne, and then Monash University, Victoria, where she widened the scope her concern to include the educational syllabus of Australia on a more general level.

She has since retired and now lives in Churchill, a town in Gippsland, Victoria.


  • Women, Sex and Pornography, Penguin Books, Melbourne 1980, ISBN 0-14-070088-9
  • Benzo Junkie: More than a case history, Penguin Books, Melbourne 1993
  • Apprenticeship In Liberty, Angus & Robertson, North Ryde NSW 1991, currently Out Of Print
  • Backlash? Balderdash!, UNSW, Sydney NSW 1994, ISBN 978-0-86840-142-3


  1. ^ "Faust, Beatrice Eileen (1939 - )". The Australian Women's Register. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  2. ^ Adelaide (1988) p. 63
  3. ^ It's an Honour: Centenary Medal
  4. ^ It's an Honour: AO
  5. ^ "The Book that Shook the World", Film Australia, 3 November 2007, SBS Television

Further reading[edit]

  • Adelaide, Debra (1988) Australian women writers: a bibliographic guide, London, Pandora
  • Mitchell, Susan (1984) Tall Poppies, Sydney, Angus and Robertson.

External links[edit]