Bette Boyanton, a woman who struggled to overcome the disadvantages of poverty, lack of education, inequality and poor health, became an inspiring social reformer and political activist.
Born in the 1920s into a poor family of eleven children, Bette was determined not to follow in the footsteps of her exhausted and discouraged mother. Her father, an unemployed returned soldier and member of the Communist Party, inspired Bette with ideas of equality, fairness and social justice, but, having left school at thirteen, Bette worked in menial jobs and married young. She soon found herself on an isolated dairy farm, struggling with children just as her mother had. Still, she was always interested in politics, social change and workers’ rights. She joined the Party and became a friend of Frank and Ross Hardy (Power Without Glory). Working for women’s rights, she demonstrated, presented petitions, became a member of Women’s Electoral Lobby and was a founding member of Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres, part of a huge grassroots community movement focused on the empowerment of women through a philosophy of caring, sharing and new learning which opened up their horizons.
Cups with No Handles explores the battle women face between a public life and the demands of family. Bette had a vision of a better world and her activism was a model for women in following generations.