Ethleen King CBE

Ethleen King spent more than 40 years helping to build community organisations, which have improved the lives of women and children in Victoria.

Honour Roll

After qualifying as a lawyer in 1929, Ethleen began a lifelong interest in using her legal skills to help form new organisations to provide help to those in need. The organisation's durability testifies to her extraordinary ability to recognise areas of high need and to think long-term.

She helped draft the Constitution of one of Victoria's earliest pre-school providers the Lady Gowrie Child Care Centre in North Carlton. 65 years later, the Centre is widely recognised as one of Victoria's leaders in childcare services.

Ethleen continued her interest in pre-school education by also helping to form the Free Kindergarten Union, the Victorian Branch of the Australian Pre-School Association and the National Pre-School Association. She helped establish the Children's Book Council of Victoria in 1953, which continues to organise activities and events that promote reading for children. She again contributed her legal skills to the establishment of the Advisory Council for Children with Impaired Hearing in 1968.

Ethleen also recognised the damage caused by economic and legal discrimination against women. In 1952, her legal skills helped the National Council of Women to contribute to the Basic Wage and Standard Hours Inquiry in which employers had applied to reduce the female rate of pay to 60% of the male basic wage. She also assisted the Council in advocating for law reform to ensure that women received a fairer division of assets acquired during marriage.

Ethleen also became the first woman appointed to the first La Trobe University Council in 1967. Awarded a CBE in 1969 for her wide range of contributions to welfare services in Australia, Ethleen continued her life-long commitment to improving services for women and children well into the 1980s.