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Ann Smith

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Ann Smith

Awarded for service to the Community

Born: 6 June 1934 Died: 13 May 1998

Entered on roll: 2015


'Find a way or make it.'

Ann Smith made her own way if there was no obvious path, she knew how to get around a rock and hard place and create networks.

When Ann moved from Sydney to Queenstown on Tasmania’s West Coast she was determined to put her science degree to good use and became the first female geologist employed at Mt Lyell. The Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company motto of ‘we find a way or make it’ reflected Ann’s attitude.

When Ann was pregnant with her second child in 1970, she read about the Nursing Mothers’ Association Australia. A 1969 survey revealed that only one in six women in Tasmania were breastfeeding their baby at three months of age. The West Coast had the lowest breastfeeding figures in the State. Ann’s first lactation had failed. Realising she was not alone, Ann felt the Nursing Mothers’ Association provided the model for mother to mother support of shared experiences in breastfeeding. She therefore established the Tasmanian branch of the Nursing Mothers’ Association (now known as the Australian Breastfeeding Association).

Ann shared her experiences and knowledge by holding an informal meeting at a friend’s home in Queenstown. She also trained and qualified as a group leader in early 1971. Ann counselled women on breastfeeding issues throughout Tasmania. This often involved writing long letters as long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive in those days.

Ann arranged for new mums to meet and encouraged women to train as counsellors and group leaders. By 1992 Tasmania had 27 Nursing Mothers’ Association Australia groups and 100 breastfeeding counsellors by 1994.

Besides counselling mothers and establishing groups, Ann helped establish the credibility of the Nursing Mothers’ Association with Tasmanian health professionals.

In 1994, Ann told the Nursing Mothers’ Association Australia Branch Seminar that if she had not started Nursing Mothers’ someone else would have. Who knows? It was Ann Smith who rose to the challenge.

Photo credit: Courtesy of The Advocate newspaper

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