Susan Ryan

The Honourable
Susan Ryan
Age Discrimination Commissioner
Assumed office
30 July 2011
Preceded by new Commissioner
Senator for Australian Capital Territory
In office
13 December 1975  29 January 1988
Succeeded by Bob McMullan
Personal details
Born Susan Maree Ryan
(1942-10-10) 10 October 1942
Sydney, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Political party Labor
Spouse(s) Richard Butler (m 1963; d. 1972)
Children 2
Alma mater University of Sydney,
Australian National University
Profession Educator

Susan Maree Ryan AO (born 10 October 1942), an Australian educator, is the Age Discrimination Commissioner, since 2011, within the Australian Human Rights Commission.[1]

Ryan has previously served as a Senator for the Australian Capital Territory between 1975 and 1987, representing the Australian Labor Party. During her term in the Parliament of Australia, Ryan became the first female Labor minister and served in several ministerial roles in the Hawke government; and most notably as the inaugural Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. Her legislative contributions to the Australian political landscape include the Sex Discrimination Act, 1984 (Cth) and the Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunities in Employment) Act 1986 (Cth).


Ryan was born in Sydney and educated at the Brigidine Convent in Maroubra.[2] She graduated from the University of Sydney in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts and worked as a school teacher. She married Richard Butler in 1963 and they have one son and one daughter—they divorced in 1972.[2] From 1966 she was a residence officer at the Australian National University in Canberra while studying and tutoring in English literature. In 1969 she helped to establish the Labor Club in Belconnen. She graduated with a Master of Arts in English Literature from the ANU in 1972. Following graduation she served as a delegate to the ACT Australian Labor Party from 1973 to 1976.

Political career

In 1974 Ryan was appointed to the non-governing ACT Advisory Council and elected to the non-governing ACT House of Assembly, serving briefly between 1975 and 1976.

In 1975 she was elected as one of the first two Senators for the ACT, on the slogan "A woman's place is in the Senate". She was the ACT's first female senator and first Labor senator. When the Hawke Labor Government was elected in March 1983, Ryan was appointed Minister for Education and Youth Affairs and Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. She was Minister for Education in the second Hawke Ministry and opposed the re-introduction of fees for tertiary education despite strong support in Cabinet for the user-pays principle. She lost the education portfolio in the third Hawke Ministry and was instead given a much reduced role as Special Minister of State. Subsequently the Higher Education Contribution Scheme was introduced to partially fund higher education.[3] Ryan resigned from the Senate on 16 December 1987.[4]

Ryan had a strong focus on gender equality in politics. A private member's bill written by her in 1981 was crucial to the development of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986, the Public Service Reform Act 1984 and the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987. She was also a founding member of the Women's Electoral Lobby ACT branch.[3]

After politics

Following her resignation from politics, Ryan has worked as an editor and in the insurance, plastics and superannuation industries. In November 1998 Ryan was appointed one of the first two Pro-Chancellors of the University of New South Wales,[5] a position she held until 2011. She was President of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees from 2000 to 2007. She has also campaigned for an Australian Bill of Rights.[3] She was deputy chairman of the Australian Republican Movement from 2000 to 2003.[2] She has published a political autobiography, Catching the Waves: life in and out of politics.[6]

In July 2011 she was appointed as Australia's inaugural Age Discrimination Commissioner with the Australian Human Rights Commission.[7]

Ryan was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in June 1990.[8] She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Canberra, Macquarie University and the University of South Australia.[3]


  1. "Age Discrimination Commissioner The Hon Susan Ryan AO". President & Commissioners. Australian Human Rights Commission. 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Who's who in Australia. North Melbourne: Crown Content. 2008. p. 2303. ISBN 1-74095-160-3.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Hon Susan Ryan AO Citation" (PDF). University of South Australia. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  4. "Biography for Ryan, the Hon. Susan Maree, AO". ParlInfo Web. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  6. Ryan, Susan (1999). Catching the waves : life in and out of politics. Pymble, NSW: HarperCollins. p. 308. ISBN 0-7322-5959-2.
  7. "Susan Ryan appointed Australia's first age discrimination commissioner". The Australian. AAP. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  8. "Ryan, Susan Maree". It's an Honour. Government of Australia. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Broderick
as Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination
Age Discrimination Commissioner
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Baume
Minister for Education (and Youth Affairs)
Succeeded by
John Dawkins
New title Minister assisting the Prime Minister
for the Status of Women

Succeeded by
Margaret Reynolds
Preceded by
Michael Tate
Special Minister of State
Title abolished
Parliament of Australia
New seat Senator for the Australian Capital Territory
Served alongside: John Knight, Margaret Reid
Succeeded by
Bob McMullan
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 5/26/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.