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Awarded for service to the Community
Entered on roll: 2005
Gill James was born in Launceston and educated at St Helens Primary School and Launceston State High School. She married in 1961 and had one son. Gill was elected as a Member for Bass in the State Parliament in 1976, serving until 1989 and again from 1992-2002. She is the longest serving woman member of the House of Assembly since women won the right to stand for Parliament in 1921. Before entering Parliament she worked in the offices of former President of the Senate Justin O’Byrne and former Deputy Prime Minister Lance Barnard.
In 1979, Gill was the first woman to be appointed as a Presiding Officer (Deputy Speaker) in the Tasmanian Parliament. In 1980, she was appointed as Tasmania’s first ever woman Minister with responsibility for the Public and Mental Health, Consumer Affairs and Administrative Services portfolios. She also held a range of party and committee positions within the Parliament including that of Whip, Chairman of the PLP and Deputy Chairman of Committees.
Since the 1960s, Gill has regularly acted voluntarily as an advocate for ex-service personnel and their dependents before the Veteran’s Review Board (VRB). She has made an immeasurable difference in the lives of many veterans, appearing before the VRB and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal to secure income and entitlements for the people she has represented. She is highly regarded in the community for her advocacy skills and commitment to providing representation. She has been awarded the National RSL Certificate and Badge of Merit and was made a Life Member of the RSL in 2003.
Gill is past patron of many associations including the Tasmanian Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans’ Motor Cycle Club, Launceston Art Society, and Northern Tasmanian Netball Association. She is currently patron of the State Branch of the Huntington’s Disease Association. Gill also helped establish Launceston’s first shelter for homeless men during the 1980s. In 2004, she was appointed a legatee for Legacy. She is currently patron of the Vietnam Veterans’ Association, Launceston Branch.
Gill was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1990 for her services to the community, particularly veterans.