professional historians australia (south australia)
Home > On this day > May > 5 May 1875 Kate Cocks MBE

5 May 1875 Kate Cocks MBE

 5 May 1875   Kate Cocks MBE

Fanny Kate Boadicea Cocks was born at Moonta on 5 May 1875. After experiencing hardships in her childhood when her father fell on hard times she was sent to relatives in Victoria and at 25 became a teacher there. A year later she applied for, and was appointed, sub-matron and teacher at the State Children Department's Edwardstown Industrial School. After transfer to the State Children's Council as a clerk she was appointed Juvenile Court probation officer. 

At 40 years of age, in 1915, she was offered the position of Principal Police Matron. This followed a government decision that women should be employed as police constables on equal terms with men. Kate Cocks and Annie Ross, who commenced duty on 1 December 1915, were the first women police officers in the British Empire. Working mainly with women and children they were an immediate success and in 1916 another woman was appointed, then in 1917 two more.

Kate Cocks continued in her position until she retired in May 1935 and was made an MBE for her pioneering work. With the assistance of the Methodist Church she set up the Kate Cocks Babies Home at Brighton for unmarried mothers. She died on 20 August 1954 and her epitaph reads: 'Everybody's Friend'.

Patricia Higgs, Christine Bettess, To Walk a Fair Beat,  Past & Present Women's Police Association, 1987.

Tags: Cocks Kate, , women police

http://www.sahistorians.org.au/175/chronology/may/5-may-1875-kate-cocks-mbe.shtml