Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Amelia Lambrick (1864–1956)

by Amanda Rasmussen

This article was published:

Amelia Lambrick (1864-1956), public servant and social reformer, was born on 23 March 1864 in North Melbourne, eldest of five children of Erasmus Pascoe Lambrick, a carrier born in Cornwall, England, and his wife Amelia, née Bertram, from Norfolk. Amelia entered the Victorian public service in 1886 and, after holding various positions in the Postmaster General's Department, worked in the Customs Department, under Victorian then Federal control, for thirty-seven years.

Lecturing was the chief way that she advocated her particular brand of social reform. Lambrick was a member of the Theosophical Society, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Henry George Club and the Victorian Citizens' Movement. She spoke in the suburbs for Vida Goldstein's 1910 campaign for election to the Senate, and wrote for the Socialist under the pseudonym 'Hypatia'. In 1926 she represented the Australian section at the W.I.L.P.F. congress in Dublin, and during the 1920s and 1930s travelled and lectured extensively overseas. She was president of the Victorian branch of the W.I.L.P.F. from 1932 to 1936, and of the East Malvern branch of the auxiliary of the Austin Hospital for Incurables (1934). A contributor to Peace, the booklet produced in conjunction with the 1937 Australian Peace Congress, she remained involved with the International Peace Campaign.

Lambrick's 'wellspring came from theosophy'. In a similar vein to the Greek Hypatia who brought spiritualism to Platonism, perhaps Lambrick's favourite lectures were those on the great Indian spiritual leaders, Gandhi, Kagawa, Tagore and Krishnamurti. She never failed to insist that belief in 'universal brotherhood' was a key to peaceful relations, greater equality and better governance. 'Peace', she announced in 1937, 'stands for truth, justice, brotherhood, and these are the foundations of all true civilisation'. Frustrated by the hypocrisy of the Christian Church and the prevalence of rhetoric rather than 'knowledge' in democracies around the world, she felt that socialism and communism were understandable responses to the 'appalling' unequal distribution of wealth, but hoped that 'true democracy' would prevail. In the more just society for which she worked, individuals would not necessarily be perfectly equal, but they would not be discriminated against on grounds of race, class, gender or creed. She closely studied events in the Pacific, regularly lecturing on the Soviet Union and China, and objected strongly to the White Australia policy, arguing that 'we have insisted on our superiority in such a way that we have made ourselves ridiculous'.

An 'impressive woman', Lambrick was upright and tall, with a fiery knowledge of a broad range of subjects, a gentle voice and 'a certain sweetness in her expression'. She was a good platform speaker and 'guaranteed to draw questions'. Her hobbies were reading and gardening. Lambrick's family remembered her as 'something of a crank and a life-long non-conforming eccentric', but were 'still proud of her intelligence and wit'. She died on 27 September 1956 at her home at East Malvern, and was cremated. She had not married, but was survived by her sister-in-law and niece.

Select Bibliography

  • Who’s Who in the World of Women (Melb, 1934)
  • E. M. Moore, The Quest for Peace (Melb, 1949?)
  • A. Curthoys, S. Eade and P. Spearritt (eds), Women and Work (Canb, 1975)
  • J. Roe, Beyond Belief (Syd, 1986)
  • C. Rasmussen, The Lesser Evil? (Melb, 1992)
  • J. M. Bloomfield, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman: Vida Goldstein (Melb, 1993)
  • J. Damousi, Women Come Rally (Melb, 1994)
  • Labour History, no 29, 1975, p ix
  • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom records (University of Melbourne Library)
  • private information.

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Citation details

Amanda Rasmussen, 'Lambrick, Amelia (1864–1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hypatia

23 March, 1864
North Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


27 September, 1956 (aged 92)
Malvern, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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