- Honour Roll
Pamela grew up as one of seven children in a poor family in the small Riverina town of Finley, New South Wales. Her background was very disadvantaged. In accordance with the conditioning of most girls in those days, she left school at fifteen to work in a shop until she was old enough to get married.
Pamela was lucky enough to get a job in a chemist's shop, which was considered quite a high status position because you wore a white uniform. She worked there for six years until she married and went to live in Shepparton where she had four children. To help make ends meet she worked night shift at the SPC cannery during the fruit season, standing for eight hours picking rotten pieces of peaches off an assembly line before going home to get four hours sleep until the baby woke up. Pamela later got a job at the local TAB, then a job at another chemist's shop. This was about 1970, during the second wave of the feminist movement.
Always a voracious reader, Pamela was influenced by Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch. She decided to undertake an Arts Diploma by external study, while at the same time working and looking after small children. She then got a job as a proof reader at the local newspaper, the Shepparton News. She began doing some writing for the paper and before long she was taken on as a full-time reporter.
Pamela then applied for a job at The Age and was lucky enough to be accepted. But she was only on a cadet's wage and had to cope as a single mother and rent a house in Melbourne, so it was very hard financially for a few years. She delivered pamphlets at weekends to make ends meet. But her four daughters all went to the University of Melbourne and at one stage were all there at the same time, which might almost be a record.
Pamela started at The Age as a court reporter. One of the things of which she is most proud is her reporting of a case in which a County Court judge had ruled that it was not against the law for a man to rape his wife. Pamela was the first reporter to get the story, The Age put it on the front page and the outcry was so great it ended up with the law being changed. Pamela eventually became the paper's first female leader writer, and then was the first woman to have a regular opinion column.
Pamela often wrote about human rights and social justice and issues affecting women. At the time of her induction, she was the only journalist in Australia who regularly wrote about poverty in developing countries.
Pamela won many awards, including the NSW Office of the Status of Women Award for writing on women's issues 1995, the Melbourne Press Club Quill Award for best newspaper columnist 1998, a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Award and a United Nations Media Peace Prize; the Results Australia Leadership Award for writing on issues of world poverty and hunger in 1999; and a Vida Goldstein Women in Media award in 2000.
Reviewed 25 May 2022