Trailblazer Dorothy Pyatt celebrates 100 years, SA

The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner popped into a Klemzig nursing home today to wish an icon of South Australia Police a “Happy 100th Birthday”, according to SA Police.

Dorothy Pyatt OAM was born in London on 26 August 1918, with celebrations of her reaching this major birthday milestone planned for both today, and on Sunday.

Miss Pyatt was an eight-year-old when she and her family emigrated to Adelaide in 1926.

She joined the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service towards the end of War War II, before, in 1947, at the age of 29 joining the South Australia Police as a Women Police Constable (WPC).

At that time the Women Police were a separate branch from the male officers, with the majority of their work linked to criminal or welfare matters involving women or children.

In 1951 this pioneer was chosen to be stationed at divisional headquarters at Port Augusta – at that time one of the largest policing districts in all of Australia – covering more than one million square km (400,000sq miles).

As the first female police officer in the town of 6000, Miss Pyatt was quite a novelty with people coming to the police station window to peer at her.

Accommodation was often an issue – Miss Pyatt camping in the derelict police cell in Coober Pedy

She continued to break ground for women in her career, become the first WPC to get an Operators Certificate in radio telephony (the only means of communication in the area). She later was the first WPC to obtain a permit to drive a Police Land Rover.

Making rape inquiries in Coober Pedy – Dorothy Pyatt entering the mine circa 1956

Passionate about history and the area she patrolled, she found city life was not to her liking after being recalled to Adelaide in 1967, so she resigned from the police and returned to England where she joined the Women’s Voluntary Service.

Later, after returned to Adelaide, she rejoined the South Australia Police in 1972 as a Woman Police Auxiliary (responsible for administrative work) and was posted to the Adelaide CIB. She held this position until her retirement in 1983.

Miss Pratt was an inaugural member of the South Australia Police Historical Society and was made a life member of the organisation in 1986.

Historical passion – (crouching) during a South Australia Police Historical Society outing at the grave of Inspector Henry Holroyd, Hamilton Church yard, Kapunda in 1984

Commissioner Grant Stevens today acknowledged Miss Pyatt as a pioneer of women in policing in South Australia.

“She is well respected and made an enormous contribution to South Australia Police, and in turn the wider community who she served for so many years.

“I and my colleagues wish her the very best while marking this significant birthday.”

In addition to today’s birthday party at the residential care facility where Miss Pyatt now lives, a further celebration will be held at the Police Historical Society on Sunday.

Dorothy Pyatt marks her 100th birthday with a celebration at Klemzig

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