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Bacon, Eva (1909–1994)

by Pam Young

Eva Bacon, 84. A founding member and leader of the Union of Australian Women and founder of the International Women's Day Committee.

Even as she lay in her Brisbane hospital bed recently, women's movement organiser and socialist Eva Bacon remained the activist, phoning her protest at the planned closure of the local City Hall women's restroom. The long and remarkable life of Bacon, who died last month, was committed to the women's movement, international peace and socialism. Intensely concerned about the injustices and inequalities in the world, she campaigned tirelessly for change. Even in her later life, she insisted that she was still a rebel and "I will die a rebel''.

Born into a Jewish family in Vienna in 1909, Bacon at an early age was very aware of anti-semitism. She witnessed the rapid growth of fascism and, after the annexation of Austria, the horror of the Hitler regime.

She joined the underground resistance, always fearful of arrest and internment. Avoiding the Gestapo, she and her mother escaped to Australia where she married, became involved with the Left and joined the Communist Party. She always felt deep gratitude to Australia for her freedom, and sought to repay this with an abiding commitment to the fight for justice and peace.

A foundation member of the Union of Australian Women, she found that its militant, progressive policy around women, children and peace suited her ideology. She held positions of state secretary, president, national committee delegate, and was an energetic activist in the branch at Enoggera in Queensland where she lived with her family. For more than 20 years she was the organising secretary of the International Women's Day Committee.

Bacon welcomed the growth of the women's liberation movement, which she said made her a feminist. She returned to Vienna in 1952 as a union delegate to the Conference in the Defence of Children.

A familiar sight at demonstrations, Bacon believed her short stature and non-aggressive appearance protected her from arrest. Always quick to ring friends with affectionate messages of concern, sympathy and understanding, or to offer congratulations and encouragement, she was admired for her warmth, sharp political mind, remarkable vitality and fighting spirit. She earned the respect and esteem of women and men from all walks of life. She was always an inspiration.

Bacon is survived by her husband of 50 years, Ted, and her daughter, Barbara.

- Pam Young, member of the Queensland, branch of the Union of Australian Women.

Original publication

  • Age (Melbourne), 30 August 1994, p 16

Additional Resources

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Citation details

Pam Young, 'Bacon, Eva (1909–1994)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 August 2020.

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