- Honour Roll
Born in London in 1930, Brenda was evacuated from her Wimbledon home to Australia during World War II and lived in South Belgrave until the end of the war. Back in England, she completed school, but found it difficult to settle down and decided to return to Australia. Brenda became a secondary school teacher, married and had three sons with her husband Keith. In 1960, they moved to Orbost where she taught and was headmistress of the Orbost Secondary College and became an active member of her community.
Brenda first became an elected local government councillor in 1971 for the Shire of Orbost, where she spent 17 years on the council including three terms as Shire President. Brenda pulled together towns and communities heavily reliant on the timber industry for their economic well being. They formed a body called Timber Towns Victoria, which aimed to speak with a united, common voice and support the future of families whose livelihoods were dependent on the timber industry.
With the reintroduction of local council elections in Victoria in 1997, Brenda became Mayor of the newly formed East Gippsland Shire, encompassing five previous shires. In 1979 Brenda was the founding chairperson of the Orbost Continuing Care Appeal, which raised money to build an aged persons facility for Orbost. She also worked to provide facilities for people with a disability, as the founding chairperson of the Merindah Day Training Centre now part of the Noweyung Centre.
In addition to her community welfare work, Brenda was the chairperson of the East Gippsland Economic Development and Employment Committee established in 1986-87, which aimed to identify ways to improve the prosperity of the region. She was a commissioner of the Orbost Water Trust and Sewerage Authority from 1972 until 1980 and its chair from 1977-79, a period that oversaw the expansion of the water supply and provision of significant new sewerage services.
She has been a Justice of the Peace for more than 24 years and was an honorary probation officer at Orbost before being appointed as a JP. In 1985, Brenda was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to the community. After the severe 1998 floods in East Gippsland, the Red Cross awarded Brenda the Red Cross Medal for Meritorious Services for her work as an emergency services liaison officer.
In her more than 40 years in East Gippsland, Brenda has been involved with many cultural, community and sporting groups and associations. Brenda says she's been fortunate to have many wonderful opportunities after a tumultuous childhood. She hates to see injustice and compassion is what fires her up. "You have to do your best to put something back into life all the time."
Reviewed 25 May 2022