The Austine Henry Award 

Awarded to the YL (“young lady”) Single Operator entrant from outside Oceania with the highest combined score in the Phone and CW sections

An Australian lady amateur who became well known world wide, was Austine Henry (nee Marshall) VK3YL.  She was born, Mary Austine, on 11th June 1913, in Brighton, Victoria.  Austine received her first radio (a crystal set) as a small child, and promptly pulled it apart to see how it worked!  She later graduated to building valve sets.

Tutored by her then boyfriend, later husband, Bill Henry, Austine passed her experimental licence exam and was issued with an Amateur Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency number 619, dated May 14th 1930, and the callsign VK3YL.  Only the third woman to obtain an amateur licence in Australia at that time, she became a very active VK3 operator and a great ambassador for amateur radio world-wide.

Austine continued to build much of her own equipment, including a very large, high-power, crystal controlled transmitter, which won first prize in its class at the Victorian Wireless Institute of Australia’s public display in the Melbourne Lower Town Hall in 1933.

On September 6th 1933 Austine became the first woman admitted to the Royal Australian Air force Wireless Reserve and was enrolled as No.R.20  A.C.2  Marshall M.A. in the Wireless Section. She was very upset that they would not send her to the war zone as a radio operator, just because she was a woman!   Despite her official commitments during WWII, she spent a lot of her spare time at the WIA, on a voluntary basis, teaching Morse code to service personnel and others.

Austine was a member of the WIA for 54 years (in 1985), having the distinction of holding the longest YL membership to that date.  Other notable achievements included, being a foundation member of the YASME Foundation and winning certificate no.7 in the prestigious YASME Award.  She was made a Life member of the Society of Wireless Pioneers, and her entry into the DXCC Honour Roll was as the first Australian YL using CW.  She was the first to gain the WAC-YL and certificate number 22 for the YL-DXCC from Canada (hand printed in gold) and the first VK YL to gain the Australian Ladies Amateur Radio Association (ALARA) award. Austine became a member of the ARRL on April 14th 1930, had over 30 years of membership in the RSGB, and other organisations to which she belonged included, New Zealand Amateur Radio Transmitters (NZART), Radio Amateur Old Timers’ Club (Australia), RAOTC (USA), Young Ladies Relay League (YLRL USA), Young Ladies International SSB net (YLISSB), Women Amateur Radio Operators (WARO NZ) and of course ALARA.

Austine died unexpectedly, at the age of 81, on September 9th 1994;  the words “Silent Key” being most fitting for this internationally known YL ambassador.