In 1915, the New South Wales Police Department advertised two positions for female police. Nearly 500 women applied for the positions. Two applicants, Lillian Armfield and Maud Rhodes were chosen and subsequently sworn in as Probationary Special Constables. Maud Rhodes resigned in 1920 and Lillian Armfield retired after 33 years service in 1949. The women were required to sign an indemnity releasing the Police Department of any responsibility for their safety and wore civilian clothes, as they were not issued a uniform. Their service was recorded on a separate seniority list until 1965. They were the first women employed for police duties in the Commonwealth.
They were employed as special constables whose primary functions related to traffic direction and control of juvenile girls.
Both Maude and Lillian progressed and moved into more hazardous areas of police work. Lillian gained distinction as the first woman to be awarded the King’s Police Medal.
It was not until 1965 that women gained full police status and the title of Special Constable was dropped.
Women now make up approximately 19% of the Force and participate in all areas of policing.