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Awarded for service to Human Rights
Born: 4 February 1945
Entered on roll: 2011
Austra Maddox was born in February 1945 in Berlin, Germany. Her family came to Australia in 1950, initially settling in outback Queensland and later in Tasmania. Austra attended Hobart High School and the University of Tasmania, where she gained a Bachelor of Arts.
While studying part-time, Austra took a job as a typist/clerk. She realised that workers in these positions had no say over their own work and no say over how the work was organised. These observations caused Austra to think about how work should be organised and what makes a good workplace and a bad workplace.
Austra joined the Commonwealth Public Service as the first female Graduate Clerk in Tasmania in 1969, working in the Departments of Social Services, Employment and Industrial Relations and Community Services. It was while working in the Commonwealth Public Service that Austra became involved in the union movement, an area where few women had been actively involved.
In 1985, Austra was the first female elected as Branch Secretary of the Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association. She continued to be re-elected as the union grew through various amalgamations into the Community and Public Sector Union.
Throughout her time in unions, Austra has pursued many issues and was instrumental in having flexitime started in the Public Service. Of this achievement Austra said “I thought that was something really important because it was particularly of benefit to women … obviously women with hassles about child care would particularly benefit”.
Austra became the first female President of the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council in 1993, and continues her union involvement as a Life Member of the Community and Public Sector Union. She is also a member of the Unions Tasmania Women’s Committee and the Union Choir. Austra has a long-term commitment to a social justice agenda and women’s issues.