GREENWOOD, IRENE ADELAIDE (1898-1992)
Born Irene Driver in Albany, Western Australia, Irene Greenwood’s interests in feminism and the peace movement were formed through her mothers involvement with women's organisations. After attending Perth Modern School and working as a secretary, Irene married Albert Greenwood in 1920 and moved to Broome.
The family relocated to Sydney in 1930, and Irene began speaking out on social justice and feminist issues in the Domain. She made lifelong friends among the feminist activists in her milieu. To support her family, Irene began broadcasting on radio.
In 1935, the family returned to Perth, where Irene's weekly ABC broadcast commented on international news from a women's perspective. In 1945, a new position of women’s broadcaster with the ABC was created, but Irene was overlooked in favour of Catherine King. Although they were good friends they became competitors in the same market when, in 1948, Irene began a daily women’s radio program, Woman to Woman, on the Whitford Network. Irene fully documented the success of this commercial radio work, maintaining files of running scripts, interview transcripts with guests and correspondence files from listeners. In 1954, Greenwood presented Books Worth Reading, sponsored by a Perth bookshop.
Irene had a lifelong need to comment in print. She was a regular contributor to letters to the editor columns—in particular to the West Australian. She ‘wore out’ five typewriters and had correspondence with successive prime ministers from John Curtin on.
Irene received numerous awards for her considerable achievements, including being appointed OAM, the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate at Murdoch University, the United Nations Association of Australia Silver Peace Medal, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal and appointment to the National Advisory Committee on Women’s Affairs in 1974. The flagship of the Western Australian state fleet, MV Irene Greenwood, was also named in her honour.
Irene died in 1992, following a stroke that had left her frustratingly speechless in a nursing home.
REF: I. Greenwood Collection, Murdoch University Library.