Augusta Zadow the first official inspector of the conditions in Adelaide factories in 1894


Augusta Zadow, who worked closely with Mary Lee, became South Australia’s first “inspectress under the Factories Act” in 1894, checking on working conditions for women and minors.

German-born and educated, Zadow moved from being a governess to tailoring in London in 1868. There she met her husband, a tailor and German political refugee. With their young son, they arrived in Adelaide in 1871.

Zadow became an advocate for women working in Adelaide clothing factories and she was a major force behind forming the Working Women’s Trades Union in 1890. With Mary Lee and David Charleston, she drew up a list of fair wages and prices.

With Lee, she also was a strong supporter of the Women’s Suffrage League. With women securing the vote in 1894, premier George Kingston appointed Zadow as inspector to back up his Factories Act.

Zadow died from haematemesis in 1896, while preparing a report on the Factories Act. Agnes Milne took over as inspector. The Augusta Zadow Scholarship is still awarded to individuals involved with women’s health and safety.  In 1900, the Sweating League was formed to rid the “sweating” system from male and female jobs. After a parliament committee in 1904 looked at the “alleged sweating evil”, a board was formed to regulate the wages of women and girls.

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