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Awarded for service to Government, service to Education and Training, service to the Community
Entered on roll: 2006
Fran Bladel has been and is an inspiration to the women of Tasmania because of her courage, her principles, her honesty, her community service and her tireless pursuit of social justice.
- Antje Fox, 2006
Fran Bladel was born in Hobart and grew up in Moonah during the last years of the Depression. Fran attended the local Catholic primary school where she first became aware of the strengths, contradictions and prejudices of different groups of people. She attributes her strong commitment to social justice to these early influences.
At the age of 15, Fran began work in a studio in Hobart as an assistant to a Russian portrait photographer. The post-war migration of Europeans who had lost their homelands brought Fran in contact with a diverse range of people, and in 1954 she married a young German immigrant. She was widowed after seven years and raised her son by herself.
Being the ‘sole bread-winner’ exposed Fran to the hardships faced by women in low-paid jobs. She also had to rely on the generosity of family members or neighbours for child care. These early experiences influenced her later political career.
After gaining a studentship, Fran graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Tasmania in 1969 and became a teacher.
Fran experienced many highlights in her teaching career, most notably her shared leadership of the Tagari Project School from 1973-77. She also taught at the Women’s Prison in a voluntary capacity in 1978. There were few resources available and the library was located in the Men’s Prison, so Fran provided a number of resources herself.
Between 1977 and 1986, Fran was the senior mistress for English studies at Bridgewater High School. She has become a lifelong advocate for that community.
In 1986, Fran was elected to the Tasmanian Parliament. She was the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Labor Party’s Inquiry into Women’s Affairs in Tasmania in 1987 and continued to champion equality for women throughout her parliamentary career. From 1989-92 and 2001-02, she was Minister for Consumer Affairs, Administrative Services, Minister for Construction, and Minister assisting the Premier on the Status of Women.
Throughout her life, Fran has been a volunteer, an advocate and an active member of many community organisations.