History of Guiding in Western Australia
Girl Guides began in Western Australia in 1915. Since 1907, Scouting for boys had caused ripples of interest from the Brownsea Island camp in the UK that was to spread worldwide and now a hundred years later, the enthusiasm for girls and boys activity based programs continues.
In Perth, the Women’s Service Guild took note of the interest of girls who wanted to be part of this activity and the group staged a public meeting in the Perth Town Hall on June 28, 1915.
The meeting was a very formal and well attended affair under Vice Regal patronage, with His Worship the Mayor of Perth presiding. Also present was Sir Harry Barron, His Excellency the Governor; His Grace, Archbishop Riley, Rev. D I Freedman, Rev A J Barclay, leading members of the Women’s Service Guild and many others in the public gallery.
Miss Francis Wells explained the nature of Scouting and called upon His Excellency to move “That a Girl Guide Association be formed in this State and that we apply to the Girl Guide Association of Great Britain for a warrant”. On another motion Mrs Edith Cowan, seconded by Miss Finlayson of the Kindergarten Union, moved that a Council be formed. Girls were invited to send in their names to be enrolled as Captains or Guides and a meeting was arranged for Tuesday of the following week at the home of Ms Wilson in Angove Street, North Perth.
From that time, Guides has gone from strength to strength and throughout the last ninety plus years a set of integral values and traditions continue. Underlying the name of Guiding is the fundamental concept of service to community. National emergencies have seen extraordinary service. In World War I, binder twine from the paddocks of WA was woven into veils to protect the eyes of the horses in Egypt. In World War II, Guides knitted squares, collected books for sailors and silver paper for fundraising and helped care for children in After Raid Centres, which were set up around the city should an air raid eventuate. Following World War II, four women from WA assisted overseas in rehabilitating displaced people through the Guide International Service.
Fundraising and community service occurred through Willing Shilling and Busy Bee, care of bottle banks and phone boxes. The establishment of Radio Lollipop at Princess Margaret Hospital was a Guide initiative. Guides Western Australia, formerly Girl Guide Association of Western Australia,
is a member of a worldwide organization. Members are bound together by their Promise of loyalty and service to country. Lord Baden-Powell, the Founder, said that Scouting and therefore Guiding, was a game and should be fun.
Icons of Guiding in WA have been the campsites of Seaward in Swanbourne, Paxwold at Lesmurdie, Our Barn in York and May Yates campsite at Busselton. State, interstate and international camps have always brought an enthusiastic response.
Guides are bound together by the Guide Promise of loyalty and service to country. Guides' mission is to help girls and women grow into self-respecting, responsible community members by developing all aspects of character. Over time the Guiding program has been modified to meet community needs but underlying goals of fun and service remain.