Girl Guides evolved from the Scouting movement, founded by Robert Baden-Powell, in the early years of the 20th century.

Baden-Powell’s sister Agnes took charge of Girl Guiding in its early years and was followed by Baden-Powell’s wife, Olave.

First Guide Unit in Australia

In Hawthorn, Miss Louie Kerr who had previously helped her fiancé with his troop of Boy Scouts, wrote to Agnus Baden-Powell and was given permission to become a Captain (Leader) of Baden-Powell Girl Guides. She was also sent instructions and the Law along with her warm wishes for success as a Girl Guide Leader.

A notice appeared in the Hawthorn and Camberwell Citizen inviting those who wished to become Girl Guides to meet at 306 Burwood Road Hawthorn on 6 February, 1911. Reassurances about conduct were added. A large umbrella, striped red and white, swung out from the upper storey of this building, high above the street. This splash of colour was a treasured landmark and one of the last old business signs to survive in the area. The building has since been demolished and the plaque is in the procession of Guides Victoria.

Mr and Mrs Aylen and their daughter Rosa, aged 13, hosted the evening at their home behind the shop where 10 girls came to meet Miss Louie Kerr and they decided, on 6 February 1911 to form 1st Hawthorn Baden-Powell Girl Guides. It appears that it was the first Company in Australia to have been registered with the full official title chosen when the Association was founded in May 1910 and by which it was incorporated in 1915, to protect the title and register the badges.

WAGGGS Membership

In Australia, Guiding began as early as 1909, but it wasn't until 1926 the Federal Council of the Girl Guides Associations of Australia was formed. In 1928 Australia became a foundation member of the newly formed World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Today, Girl Guides Australia comprises seven member organisations, one in each of the six states and the Northern Territory. More than a million Australian women have been or are still Girl Guides.

Research by Jenny Mills, Girl Guides Victoria Archivist.

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