Contact us: +61 8 8303 0961
Office for Women

40 Years of WIS - Oral History Project

Oral History Project

Over the years, hundreds of incredible women have given up their time to volunteer with WIS. As part of a project to record the history of WIS, a series of interviews has been undertaken (by current WIS volunteers) with women who have been significant contributors to the service over time. These interviews are now a part of the State Library of South Australia collection, however they are also available here on the WIS website and can be accessed by clicking the links below:

Andi Sebastian worked as an Information Officer at the Women’s Advisory Unit with Women’s Advisor to the Premier, Deborah McCulloch. When the Women’s Advisory Unit started receiving calls from women about complex issues around social security, family law, education and domestic violence, amongst others, Andi realised the need for a dedicated team to answer these calls. Inspired by visiting the Haight-Ashbury Switchboard in San Francisco, Andi came up with an idea for a Women’s Information Switchboard. She was the first WIS Manager when the service opened and remained in the position until 1980. She went on to work several management and consultant roles in health and service delivery in Australia and abroad.

Oral history: Andi Sebastian audio (MP3 58.5 MB)

Transcript: Andi Sebastian transcript (PDF 293.7 KB)

Carmel O’Loughlin was one of the first WIS Information Workers when the service started in 1978. She became WIS Volunteer Coordinator, then Coordinator. She went on to be the Director of Domestic Violence Prevention Unit, then Director of the Office for Women’s Affairs in Darwin, and returned to Adelaide as Director of the Office for Status of Women from 1994 to 2008.

Oral History: Audio for this oral history is not available.

Transcript: Carmel O'Loughlin transcript (PDF 303.2 KB)

Carol Treloar was Women’s Adviser to South Australian Premier John Bannon from 1984 to 1990. She worked with WIS and the Premier in identifying areas of law reform which impacted on women and was Chair of the WIS and Working Women’s Centre Management Committees.

Oral history: Carol Treloar audio (MP3 32.5 MB)

Transcript: Carol Treloar transcript (PDF 237.4 KB)

Caroline Pascoe spent 8 years on the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Women's and Children's Hospital, also spending time working for the Arts Council and teaching at Southern Cross University.  As a committed feminist she was overjoyed to find work at the Women's Information Service as a casual staff member and as a volunteer in the Shopfront and the Family Court Service. Caroline is now the Volunteer Coordinator and has assisted in the interviews for the History Project.

Oral history: Caroline Pascoe audio (MP3 45.2 MB)

Transcript: Caroline Pascoe transcript (PDF 272.8 KB)

Fliss Lord worked with Children’s Film and Television for 15 years. She was a member of Women’s Electoral Lobby before joining the WIS Support Group in the mid-nineties. She has led the WIS Support group since 2000. She continues to be involved with the Women’s Electoral Lobby.

Oral history: Fliss Lord audio (MP3 44.8 MB)

Transcript: Fliss Lord transcript (PDF 476.1 KB)

Gai Dudley was a teacher and had co-founded an informal children’s playgroup before a friend and fellow WIS volunteer signed her up to volunteer with WIS in 1981. She progressed to a paid position as Volunteer Coordinator for a couple of years before returning to teaching full time. She left teaching to go to Art School and went on to become Community Arts Manager for Prospect Council.

Oral history: Gai Dudley audio (MP3 45.6 MB)

Transcript - Gai Dudley transcript (PDF 294.3 KB)

Georgia Heath came to work as WIS Manager in 2010 from a background in State Government, first for the History Trust and then for the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Since working at WIS, she has used her experience working with women and women’s access to technology to inform her development of empowering technology such as skilled volunteering website Spare Time.

Oral history: Georgia Heath audio (MP3 65.1 MB)

Transcript: Georgia Heath transcript (PDF 307.0 KB)

Jo Chesher was studying Library Information Management when she came in to WIS looking for a community information service as part of her course. She immediately signed up to volunteer with WIS. She started volunteering around 1990 and during her years at WIS became an Information Officer and Volunteer Coordinator. She went on to become Volunteer Coordinator at the State Library of South Australia.

Oral history: Jo Chesher audio (MP3 48.6 MB)

Transcript: Jo Chesher transcript (PDF 568.9 KB)

Jo Willmot worked in Aboriginal organisations prior to her employment as Aboriginal Information Officer at WIS from 1983 to 1990. In 1985 she organised the first national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Festival. From WIS she went on to work up on the APY Lands with the NPY Women’s Council and worked on film with National Aboriginal Film Corporation, raising cultural awareness for employment, education and training.

Oral history: Jo Willmot audio (MP3 27.1 MB)

Transcript: Jo Willmot transcript (PDF 333.9 KB)

Lies Zuidland worked in community medicine and community health centres in Amsterdam and Adelaide before coming to work at WIS. She was a Community Information Worker from 1999 until her retirement in 2011. She currently volunteers with WIS’s Family Court Support program.

Oral history: Lies Zuidland audio (MP3 38.9 MB)

Transcript: Lies Zuidland transcript (PDF 265.5 KB)

Linda Matthews worked at Legal Services Commission in advocacy for women and in community legal education. She then ran The Parks Legal Service before starting at WIS as Coordinator in 1988. After working at WIS she went on to work with the Rape and Domestic Violence Unit, was Executive Officer of Domestic Violence Prevention Council, and the first Director of Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Services.  From there, Linda went on to the Intellectual Disability Services Council. She was South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner from 1996 to 2010.

Oral history: Linda Matthews (MP3 48.3 MB)

Transcript: Linda Matthews transcript (PDF 311.4 KB)

Liz Ahern was a teacher and librarian before becoming publicity and membership officer for the Women’s Electoral Lobby in 1977. She was one of the first group of volunteers when WIS opened in 1978, and after a few years overseas, returned to WIS as a paid staff member from 1984-1990. She was instrumental in developing the Every Women’s Survival Guide booklet. She went on to work at Legal Services Commission and run the Law for Community Workers TAFE course. She volunteered with WIS for the WIS Oral History Project.

Oral history: Liz Ahern audio (MP3 47.0 MB)

Transcript: Liz Ahern transcript (PDF 387.7 KB)

Liana Buchanan studied law and politics and was a teacher’s aide before she came to WIS, initially as a volunteer, in 1996. She was an Information Officer from 1996 to 1998. After working at WIS she worked at the Women’s Legal Service and as a Policy Officer at the Office for the Status of Women. She is currently Victoria’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Oral history: Liana Buchanan audio (MP3 36.1 MB)

Transcript: Liana Buchanan transcript (PDF 259.0 KB)

Lien Nguyen Navas worked at the Migrant Women’s Support Accommodation Service before becoming a WIS volunteer in 1987. She later became an Information Officer at WIS and was with WIS for 13 years. During that time she reviewed WIS’s Greek, Italian, Spanish and Vietnamese language radio programs and was heavily involved in implementing the women’s Internet Access Program.

Oral history: Lien Nguyen-Navas audio (MP3 33.7 MB)

Transcript: Lien Nguyen-Navas transcript (PDF 517.3 KB)

Maureen Fallon worked in the State Library of South Australia and in the Women’s Advisory Unit in the Premier’s Department. She was Executive Officer of the Library Services Planning Committee when Andi Sebastian and Deborah McCulloch were looking to establish Women’s Information Switchboard. She worked with Sebastian and McCulloch to link the idea of WIS into provision of information services, and persuaded the Library Services Planning Committee to allocate funding for a special information services project to establish WIS. She continued to provide practical advice to WIS in planning and executing ideas. She went on to run the State Library, become Director of the Social Justice Strategy, and become a government consultant.

Oral history: Maureen Fallon audio (MP3 63.5 MB)

Transcript: Maureen Fallon transcript (PDF 569.0 KB)

Nicky Dimitropoulos worked at the State Library cataloguing information before starting work as Greek Information Officer at WIS when it opened in 1978. During her time at WIS she established the Lesbian Line, a phone service through WIS where lesbian women were rostered on to receive calls from women fortnightly on a Friday night. After leaving WIS in 1985, she went on to be the Victorian Ethnic Affairs Commission Women’s Adviser, Women’s Policy Officer, where she learned to develop and write policy, including cultural competency training, from her experience at WIS. She currently works in training cultural competency.

Oral history: Nicky Dimitropoulos audio (MP3 74.5 MB)

Transcript: Nicky Dimitropoulos transcript (PDF 401.7 KB)

Pat Ellis worked as Deputy University Librarian for the University of South Australia until her retirement in 1997. She began her WIS shopfront volunteer training one week after her retirement. Pat currently volunteers with WIS and with the Adelaide Visitor Information Service run by Adelaide City Council, celebrating 20 years at both services in 2017.

Oral history: Pat Ellis audio (MP3 43.6 MB)

Transcript: Pat Ellis transcript (PDF 294.6 KB)

Rosalie Garland came to volunteer with WIS in the early 80s and found that she loved interacting with clients on “deep and meaningful” calls. She also spent a year as a paid staff member, spending around four years with WIS before going on to study social work. She has worked as a social worker and in palliative care.

Oral history: Rosalie Garland audio part 1 (MP3 26.7 MB)Rosalie Garland audio part 2 (MP3 8.0 MB)

Transcript: Rosalie Garland transcript (PDF 257.0 KB)

Sandra Dann began as Director of Working Women’s Centre in 1998. She was Manager of WIS from 2000 to 2001. As part of her work with WIS and the Working Women’s Centre, Sandra was involved in setting up the Women’s Services Network which existed as a way of information sharing between women’s services, resulting in better referrals for women who used these services. She currently still works as Director of Working Women’s Centre.

Oral history: Sandra Dann audio (MP3 38.0 MB)

Transcript: Sandra Dann transcript (PDF 245.2 KB)

Sophie Rose had been a teacher and had worked in the Department of Local Government before coming to WIS as Greek Information Officer in 1985. In 1990 she took a secondment to the Equal Opportunity Unit of the Central Agency, returning to work in the Women’s Adviser’s policy team. During her time at WIS she did the Greek language radio program and worked extensively with clients who spoke very little or no English, sometimes accompanying them to appointments as an interpreter and occasional advocate.

Oral history: Sophie Rose audio (MP3 44.6 MB)

Transcript: Sophie Rose transcript (PDF 250.2 KB)

Stella Hellander worked as an interpreter and translator in Greek and English before being asked by then WIS Greek Information Officer Sophie Rose to volunteer to do WIS’s Greek language radio program in 1989. Stella began work as Greek Information Officer herself in 1990. After working at WIS she worked at Working Women’s Centre, Office for the Status of Women and in other areas of the public service.

Oral history: Stella Hellander audio (MP3 28.5 MB)

Transcript: Stella Hellander transcript (PDF 430.2 KB)

Tanya Hosch worked in the public service in programs for young Aboriginal offenders and programs for indigenous employment before she started as an Information Officer at WIS in 1993. She also worked with Office for Women. She later became the joint Campaign Director of Recognise before starting her current position as General Manager- Inclusion and Social Policy with the AFL. Tanya is a board member of the Indigenous Land Corporation and the Referendum Council. She is the first indigenous member of the AFL executive.

Oral history: Tanya Hosch audio (MP3 27.7 MB)

Transcript: Tanya Hosch transcript (PDF 261.3 KB)

Vaia Proios was WIS Coordinator from May 1994 to March 1995. As Coordinator she updated the volunteer training program and involved existing volunteers in new volunteer training. After a brief stint working in Sydney she returned to work in policy in the Office for the Status of Women, maintaining her working involvement with WIS until 2001.

Oral history: Vaia Proios audio (MP3 52.9 MB)

Transcript: Vaia Proios transcript (PDF 271.3 KB)

Wendy Thompson first came to WIS in 1996 on a three month Information Officer contract. She returned as a volunteer in 1999 and was employed as an Information Officer by the end of that year. She later became Volunteer Coordinator and WIS Manager. She moved to a position in Department of Transport in 2005 and still works there currently.

Oral history: Wendy Thompson audio (MP3 35.2 MB)

Transcript: Wendy Thompson transcript (PDF 465.0 KB)

Page last updated : 01 Apr 2019

This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © DHS .

Provided by:
Department of Human Services
Last Updated:
06 Nov 2023
Printed on:
08 Dec 2023
The Office for Women website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Australia Licence. © 2016