DFAT Launches Book: Wife and Baggage to Follow

Media release

31 October 2013

On 30 October, DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese AO launched Wife and Baggage to Follow, by Rachel Miller, published by Halstead Press, at the RG Casey Building.

Wife and Baggage to Follow contains first-hand accounts of the lives and times of women who followed their husbands on overseas postings and of early female officers in the Department.

The book provides insights into Australian history, world affairs and gender relations in the 20th century. It ends with the removal of the marriage bar in 1966, which allowed married women to remain in the Australian Public Service.

’Wife and Baggage to Follow is a valuable contribution to the social history of the department and to our understanding of the realities and challenges of life in a foreign service,“ Mr Varghese said.

In 2013, with a female foreign minister, 26 female heads of mission overseas and two out of four deputy secretaries women, it is difficult to imagine a department, or indeed a public service, where women were forced to choose between marriage and the foreign service.

The book also highlights the role of officers and spouses in the Department who established greater support for families and improved conditions of service. Today, the DFAT Families Network works to assist families with the challenges of moving to and from Canberra.

Author Rachel Miller, who accompanied her husband on seven postings over four decades, collaborated with the Department in researching and writing the book as part of DFAT's long and proud history of departmental publications.

Wife and Baggage to Follow is available from bookstores and from Halstead Press. Please email halstead@halsteadpress.com.au for further details.

Peter Varghese and Rachel Miller at the book launch