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The Rt Rev Barbara Darling
, 2008

by Francis Reiss and June Orford

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 59.5 cm x 42.0 cm, image: 52.5 cm x 37.3 cm)

Barbara Darling (b. 1948) is the first woman appointed a bishop in Victoria and the second woman to be made a bishop in Australia. In 1976, the year Darling moved to Melbourne to study theology, the diocesan synod first called for women to be accepted as bishops. She was selected as one of the ‘trained women workers’ the Melbourne diocese set up in the early 1980s to prepare for women’s ordination. She was one of the first woman deacons in 1986, and became one of the first woman priests six years later. She was the first woman to be hold tenure at the Anglican theological institution Ridley College, where she taught for 14 years, and the first woman elected a clerical canon of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1995. In 2005 supporters of female bishops, together with a pro-bono legal team, went to the Anglican Church’s Appellate Tribunal to determine whether further legislative steps were needed to allow female priests – allowable since 1992 – to become bishops. The tribunal decided, with reservations, that there were no impediments to women’s becoming bishops, and Darling was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne in May 2008.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2009
Accession number: 2009.23