Notaras, Helen(1911 – 2007)
Community Leader, Property developer, Retail worker
Born and educated in Athens, Helen Notaras arrived in Australia in 1927 with her maternal uncle and his family. Having worked in her uncle’s butcher’s shop in Sydney, she moved to Canberra in 1933 following her marriage to Harry Notaras. Their Highgate Café served as a focal point for the Canberra community and through the family’s property and development interests, in which she was influential, she contributed to Canberra’s growth and amenity. In 2005, the ACT Honour Walk recognised the Notaras Family for its long-term contribution to the Territory’s commercial and community life.
Helen Notaras was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll as part of the Notaras family inscription on the ACT Honour Walk in 2005.
Reed-Gilbert, Kerry(1956 – 2019)
Activist, Artist, Consultant, Educator, Writer
Kerry Reed-Gilbert was an Aboriginal author, editor, educator and activist. A number of books of her poetry were published in her lifetime. She also compiled and contributed to numerous anthologies, and produced non-fiction related to her work as an educator and consultant. Her memoir, The Cherry Picker’s Daughter was published in 2019, shortly after her death. Her friend and fellow Wiradjuri writer, Jeanine Leane described her as ‘the matriarch of First Nations’ Writing in Australia’.
Kerry Reed-Gilbert was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2019.
Whetnall, Tracey Fowler(1963 – 2019)
Tracey Whetnall’s lifelong dedication to making a difference through supporting Aboriginal people was recognised by her inclusion on the ACT Honour Walk in 2020. She had been appointed the first Indigenous Official Visitor to the Alexander Maconochie Centre in 2011 and also conducted many cultural awareness workshops for staff of the Australian Federal Police and ACT Corrective Services.
Tracey Whetnall was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2020.
McGuire, Ethel Clarice MBE, JP(1923 – 2011)
Described in obituaries as ‘a ruthless battler, hard to beat’, and ‘a fiery champion of the battlers’, Ethel McGuire was a founding member of the Australian Association of Social Workers. She married in 1953 requiring her to resign from her permanent position in the Commonwealth public service, but she returned as a full-time temporary officer by the early 1960s, eventually becoming Assistant Director of the Welfare Branch in the Department of the Interior. Ethel was the driving force in the establishment of social welfare services in Canberra and in 1963 was instrumental in the creation of the ACT Council of Social Service. She played key roles in numerous Catholic voluntary and professional activities including marriage guidance, adoption, the development of the Marymead Child and Family Centre and the formation of Catholic Social Services in Canberra. She was renowned for her formidable advocacy for people, especially children, in need.
Ethel Clarice McGuire was inscribed on the ACT Honour Walk in 2020.
Kellett, Joan Mary OAM(1929 – 2017)
Community activist, Sports administrator
Joan Kellett’s community activism focused on the education and welfare of children in the ACT. In 1977 she established one of Australia’s first after-school programs and a home for the Australian Early Childhood Association in the Majura Primary School, Watson. She served as Chair of the school board at North Ainslie Primary School and on the boards of Lyneham High School and Dickson College. For 30 years from 1984, she was an executive member of the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations. Her dedication to the sport of swimming as an administrator and official, and her contribution to the Canberra community, was recognised by the award of the Order of Australia Medal in 2003.
Joan Kellet was inscribed on the ACT Honour Walk in 2018.
Dawson, Elizabeth OAM(1936 – 2014)
Social activist, Teacher
Liz Dawson trained and worked as a speech therapist and teacher and her early social activism related to school education. Later in life, she lobbied through the organisation Common Ground to provide permanent, safe and supported homes for the homeless and for low-income families in Canberra. She was nominated as Canberran of the Year and ACT Local Hero in 2012 and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal ‘for her tireless work providing for homeless individuals and their families’ in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2013.
Liz Dawson was inscribed on the ACT Women’s Honour Roll in 2014.
Bailey, Moya Kathleen(1904 – 1996)
Moya Bailey, née Blackall, graduated from Sydney University MB BS in 1929 and pursued her obstetric qualifications in England, completing them in 1936. She practiced in the Australian Capital Territory and was an active member of the Canberra Croquet Club for thirty-three years. Her appointment as Member of the Order of the British Empire on 1 January 1960 was ‘in recognition of her outstanding service for over twenty years to the community of the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding districts as a member of the medical profession, particularly in the field of obstetrics’.
Vassarotti, Therese Mary(1950 – 2012)
Community Leader, Educator, Lecturer, Scholar
Therese Vassarotti was a pioneer and role model for women and girls and their participation in the Australian Catholic Church. From 2001 to 2005 Therese was the Executive Officer for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Commission for Australian Catholic Women.
Women with Disabilities ACT (WWDACT)(1995 – )
Advocacy organisation, Human rights organisation, Women's organisation
Women with Disabilities ACT (WWDACT) is a systemic advocacy and peer support organisation for women, girls, feminine identifying and non-binary people with disability in the ACT region.
The WWDACT was established in 1995 and since then has worked with government and non-government organisations to improve the status and lives of women with disabilities in the area.
Women’s Union Committee of the ACT(1976 – )
Union, Women's organisation
The Women’s Union Committee of the ACT was formed in 1976 and promoted the role of women and their interest in unions. Some of the Committee’s key areas of activity included petitioning for anti-sex discrimination laws to be introduced into the ACT, increased funding for child care and new child care centres.
Federal District Women’s Bowling Association Past Presidents’ Association
As its name suggests, the Federal District Women’s Bowling Association Past Presidents’ Association is comprised of the past presidents of the Federal District Women’s Bowling Association. The Association held its inaugural bowling match on Thursday 14 February, 1957.
Soroptimist International of South Canberra(1971 – 2001)
Service organisation, Women‚Äôs advocacy
Soroptimist International is a worldwide organisation for women in management and the professions working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. Soroptimists work at all levels of civil society, local, national and international, and are involved with a wide spectrum of women’s concerns.
The South Canberra Branch of Soroptimist International was inaugurated in February 1971 and ceased operation in 2001.
Watt, Mildred Mary(1903 – 1983)
Author, Scholar, Translator, Writer
Lady Mildred Watt’s obituary in the Canberra Times reports that she obtained a university medal in philosophy at Sydney and was a highly literate writer. She was also a Russian scholar and translator, who at one time translated a book on Australian foreign policy written by a Soviet official into English. Her manuscript was then donated to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Lady Mildred Mary Watt was the wife of Sir Alan Watt, a diplomat and public servant, and together they had four children.
ANU Club for Women Inc.(1961 – )
The ANU Club for Women Inc was established in 1961 by the Vice Chancellor’s wife, Lady Molly Huxley. It was formed to provide support to the families of academics, staff, and visitors coming to the University.
Originally membership of the Club consisted mostly of wives of academics, past Vice Chancellors’ wives and professional officers of the ANU. Today, however, members include all staff, as well as those who have a close association with the ANU.
The Club has various sub-groups, including: the Monday Group; the Bushwalking Group, the Morning Book Reading Group; and the Evening Book Reading Group.
Simms, Marian Jane
Academic, Political scientist, Public servant
Professor Marian Simms is internationally prominent for her work in the fields of gender studies and political science, ethics governance and Indigenous research policy. She has held senior academic and administrative roles in Australia and New Zealand and has long-standing interests in research culture and governance in New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa and Australia. She is a former president of the Australasian Political Studies Association (APSA), a former editor of the Association’s journal, and has published prodigiously. Marian has attended the Women’s Caucus of APSA from its inception. From 2011 to 2016 she was Executive Director for Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences at the Australian Research Council.
Morrison, Hedda(1908 – 1991)
Hedda Morrison was an ethnographic photographer who worked extensively in China, Borneo and later Australia, where she settled in 1967. She was influenced by Neue Sachlichkeit, or the ‘new realist’ style. Morrison’s photographs were widely disseminated in books, including the seminal Sarawak: Vanishing World, and Travels of a Photographer. Morrison was a resourceful photographer, using two car batteries to power her portable enlarger while without power for six years in Sarawak, and storing her negatives in an airtight chest using silica gel as a drying agent to overcome the perils of a tropical climate. Morrison worked largely in black and white, except for in the early 1950s.
Kinsella, Marie Patricia Germaine(1920 – 2010)
Barrister, Judge's associate, Lawyer, Public servant
Marie Sexton (nee Kinsella) co-drafted the constitution of the Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales and was the organisation’s first honorary secretary. The eldest of five children of Edward Parnell (Ted) Kinsella and his Belgian wife, Marie Louise Josephine Graff, the then Kinsella matriculated from Fort Street Girls’ High School and went on to earn three qualifications from the University of Sydney: a Bachelor of Arts in 1943; a Diploma in Education in 1944; and a Bachelor of Laws in 1949. (It was during a year-long stint as teaching assistant at Inverell High School in northern New South Wales that Kinsella decided that teaching was not for her, had her last day on 29 January 1945 and thence turned her sights to the study of law). She began working as an associate to her father, then Mr Justice Kinsella of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales. On 18 January 1950, Mr Justice Kinsella was elevated to the Supreme Court of New South Wales; Kinsella became clerk associate to her father and clerk of arraigns. Although admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 11 February 1949, Kinsella did not practise at the Bar. She later worked in the Department of Territories, Sydney, and the Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra, producing the respected Annotated Constitution. Kinsella retired in 1980.
Yates, Heidi(1980 – )
Human rights lawyer, Lawyer, Solicitor
Heidi Yates is Head of General Practice at Legal Aid ACT, a position she has held since 2015. A well-known solicitor and human-rights advocate, Heidi has been appointed to roles including Executive Director of the ACT Women’s Legal Centre, advisor to the ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner and a Clinical Education Convenor at the ANU College of Law.
Heidi’s professional reputation is well-established at a national level as an advocate for the development and funding of free legal services across Australia (particularly for victims of family violence) and as a trailblazer in gender-related law reform.
Heidi has also been a spokesperson and advocate at a local and federal level for the removal of legislative discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. She has undertaken this work through roles including spokesperson for the community law reform group ‘Good Process’ and as the inaugural chair of the ACT LGBTIQ Ministerial Advisory Council.
After just two years of practice, her work was recognised when she won the ACT Law Society’s Young Lawyer Award in 2008. In 2011, Heidi was also a state finalist in the Young Australian of the Year Awards.
Go to ‘Details’ below to read a reflective essay written by Heidi Yates for the Trailblazing Women and the Law Project.