Victoria

Woman to light up pedestrian lights for the first time

A pedestrian signal honouring Mary Rogers will be installed at a crossing in Richmond.
A pedestrian signal honouring Mary Rogers will be installed at a crossing in Richmond. 

The silhouette of a woman will soon replace the "green and red man" at traffic lights in Richmond, as a tribute to the first woman elected to local government in Victoria.

The City of Yarra and VicRoads announced plans for the unique pedestrian signals ahead of International Women's Day on Wednesday.

A portrait of Mary Rogers.
A portrait of Mary Rogers. Photo: Yarra Libraries

It is the first time in Australia an image of a female will signal the crossing of a road.

Councillor Mary Rogers, elected to the City of Richmond council in 1920, was Victoria's first female councillor and the second woman in Australia to be elected to local government.

The silhouette will soon light up the pedestrian crossing signals at Bridge Road and Bosisto Street in Richmond.

City of Yarra Mayor Roberto Colanzi said Cr Rogers had a strong connection to the area.

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"Mary Rogers was a Richmond councillor for almost five years in the 1920s, and she led ground-breaking progress in the areas of welfare, education and family issues, initiating the very first community maternal and child health services in Victoria," Mr Colanzi said.

Rogers, born in 1872, worked as a cleaner while raising children in the early 1900s.

She became active in the Australian Labor Party, and was appointed secretary and later president of the Women Office Cleaners' Union.

After she was elected to Richmond City Council at a by-election in 1920, Cr Rogers was appointed to a board of enquiry into neglected children.

At a Trades Hall Council in 1923, she moved a resolution calling for equal pay for women.

She went on to be one of the first women to be appointed justices of the peace in Victoria in 1928 and was a special magistrate at the Children's Court in Richmond.

In 1932, she died of cancer at 60 years of age.

The new pedestrian signals will be a short walk from Mary Rogers Square, on the corner of Church Street and Bridge Road.

Construction on the pedestrian crossing is expected to begin later this month.

The pedestrian signals honouring Cr Rogers will be unveiled in May, and will be in place at the site for a "12 month commemorative period", according to VicRoads.

Brendan Pauwels, Director of metropolitan projects at VicRoads, said the Mary Rogers initiative was an "acknowledgment of the role local government have in road projects".