Few women have had as great an impact on the Australian labour movement than Barbara Murphy, AO.

Barbara was a much-loved and highly effective educator, working in Sydney schools for more than 25 years before joining the NSW Teachers Federation, where she served as both senior vice-president and deputy president. As the only female presidential officer in the federation at the time, she championed progressive change within a sexist culture that denied many women teachers advancement and equality.

In 1979 Barbara was the first woman elected as an executive member of the Labor Council of New South Wales. She served as an Australian delegate to the International Labor Organization and in 2012 was awarded an Order of Australia medal in recognition of her commitment to the labour movement, to feminism, to education and to the welfare of animals. Barbara continued to advocate for progressive feminist ideals right up until her sad passing on 31 August at the age of 85.

Barbara will be forever remembered as a pioneering and passionate feminist who forever changed the face of the male-dominated union movement. I express my condolences to her partner, John, and voice the gratitude and respect of young women from across the labour movement for the trail that she blazed.