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Awarded for service to the Community, service to Government
Entered on roll: 2007
Let us show our faith in the great potential of the human race for good by doing our best to create a greater optimism in all our personal contacts. We must believe, and make others believe, that what we do does count in the sum of total life.
Jean Perkins was born in Hobart and the above quote comes from an interview where she discussed her philosophy of life.
After leaving Hobart High School, Jean worked for a number of years for a large Hobart store, where she acquired book-keeping and management skills which she put to use in her community work later in life. She married Bill Perkins in 1943 and together they raised three daughters.
In the 1950s, Jean became involved with voluntary community work. She had a strong sense of social justice and concern for the disadvantaged. Her first voluntary community commitment was raising funds to build Tolosa Street Pre-School. She then became involved with the Yalambee Hostel for children with intellectual disabilities, becoming a member of its management committee and helping with book-keeping and fundraising. This work extended to the Retarded Children’s Association, with Jean serving on its Board and later becoming Vice President of the Tasmanian branch.
While working at the second hand clothing store she helped run in Glenorchy for the Association, Jean became aware of the plight of Tasmanian Aborigines and their lack of rights. She was drawn to organisations working for the betterment of conditions for those who did not have a strong voice in society, such as people with disabilities and marginalised people.
Jean was a strong opponent of the Vietnam War, and among her most treasured memories was her involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement. She was very active in the movement and attended meetings, helped raise money for the cause and joined anti-war marches through the streets of Hobart. She was Secretary of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee (Tasmania).
Her long involvement with the Australia China Friendship Society saw her hold a number of offices, culminating in her being made a Life Member. Her commitment to friendship between Australia and China extended to her giving hospitality to visiting Chinese delegations and scholars studying in Tasmania.
Jean’s membership of voluntary organisations, often as a hard-working office bearer, was prodigious. She held Life Membership of the Retarded Children’s Association, Pre School Association, Girl Guides Association, Penguin Club of Tasmania, National Council of Women, Family Planning Association of Tasmania, Art Society of Tasmania, St Ann’s Rest Home, Australia China Friendship Society and the Australian Labour Party.
In 1992, Jean received a Human Rights Week Award in recognition of her commitment to the human rights of women, children, Aboriginals and people of non-English speaking background.
Photograph courtesy of the Mercury.