Mary Jeevaranee Eliezer

Ranee was actively involved in the linguistic and cultural activities of Tamils, partly to protect, preserve and develop Tamil language and culture.

Honour Roll

Ranee graduated from Government Teachers College in Singapore in 1944 and then obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) 1984 from the University of Melbourne with a Masters Preliminary in Archaeology and Anthropology. Her thesis was on 100 Years of Tamil Migration to Australia. She taught English in Singapore and Malaysia until she went back to Sri Lanka. She continued her teaching career in Malaysia until she migrated to Australia in 1968, where she started teaching English again.

Ranee was one of the pioneers in Ceylon, during its colonial days, to create awareness among women of their rights and responsibilities. She started a number of organisations for women, such as Nangayar Pani Kulu (or Women Service Group), Ceylon House Wives Association and functioned as the founder President of these organisations. She played a significant role in the development of the Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA) until her departure in 1968.

She was a founder director of Bharatham Dance Company, the first institution formed to teach and promote Bharatha Natyam or Indian Classical Dance in Australia. She played a significant role in the formation of the Ceylon Tamil Association Victoria. Inc. in 1978, the first Tamil Community organisation in Victoria, and has been an active member of its management committee for many years.

Ranee also started the first Tamil language radio program in Victoria with Radio 3EA (now SBS) in 1979, and was the co-ordinator of this program until 1992. She was also instrumental in starting the Tamil language school in Victoria in 1979, which has now grown to accommodate hundreds of students, and teaching up to VCE level. She also started a program with the University of Melbourne during the late 70s to teach Tamil under the then Department of Indian Studies.

Ranee was also the initiator of the establishment of the Tamil Christian Congregation (1984) and the Tamil Senior Citizens Fellowship Inc. (1988), Victoria. Through this contribution to the community, she helped provide peace of mind to the hundreds of Tamils who arrived in Australia as refugees. As a result of ethnic violence against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, thousands of Tamils arrived in Australia as refugees under the Special Humanitarian Program announced by the Australian Government. Ranee was instrumental in mobilising the community support for these refugees, in addition to providing and arranging accommodation, food and clothing for hundreds of refugees.

She played an active role in the formation of the Australian Federation of Tamil Associations Inc., an umbrella organisation which brought all the Tamil associations in the region together, and focused on the dissemination of information about human rights violations against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Ranee was also a founding director of the Australian Foundation for Human Rights, which has been actively involved in the campaign for human rights in South Africa, East Timor, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries.