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Donella Jaggs (1931 -)

Barnard, Jill 2011, 'Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project', National Library of Australia, nla.pic-vn6101682.

After completing a history degree at London University, Donna joined the Royal Air Force and trained as an Air Force Officer before becoming aware that her real interest lay in working with people. She attended Bedford College in London, completed the post-graduate social work qualification there in 1955, and went to work for London County Council, where she practised medical social work with children in the London Council Children’s Health Service before moving to Australia in 1957.

In 1960 Donna joined the Victorian Children’s Welfare Department, which at that time was being incorporated into the new Social Welfare Branch of the Chief Secretary’s Department. The new Branch combined Children’s Welfare, the Probation and Parole Service, the Prisons’ Department, and a new training function. Donna’s job had two parts – she was an inspector of charitable children’s institutions, and was also a general purpose field officer, investigating applications for home release of children, and supervising them after release.

From around the mid 1960s Donna worked at the state reception centre, Turana, with the under-15 year old boys. In 1969 Donna left Turana to take on the new position of Supervisor of Voluntary Children’s Homes, and in 1971 became the Officer in Charge of Home Release, and then became the Co-ordinator of Disaster Relief in the newly formed Regional Services Division under the leadership of David Green. Donna worked with the disparate agencies involved in the provision of disaster relief, encouraging them to act in a more coordinated manner, a practice which proved very beneficial for Victoria at the time of Victoria’s response to Darwin’s Cyclone Tracy in December 1974.

In 1972 Donna was selected to undertake higher degree study so that the Department would be better able to analyse and carry out research into its activities, and she completed an MA in Sociology at La Trobe University in November 1974. On her return from study leave she became the Research and Administrative Officer to the newly established Committee of Inquiry into Childcare Services in Victoria. The resultant Norgard report was released in August 1976, and its recommendations were accepted in full by the Hamer government. Donna worked on the implementation of the recommendations from her position of Senior Consultant in the new Office of Research and Social Policy, led by Colin Benjamin.

In 1981 Donna left the public service. Over the next two years she carried out a number of consultancies, and researched and wrote Neglected and Criminal, a history of child welfare legislation and its relationship to demands for social reform and administrative necessity. In 1983 she took up a new position as Head of the Criminal Justice Administration Course that was being established at Phillip Institute of Technology, a position she held until her retirement in 1993. At the time of the interview in March 1998, Donna was actively undertaking further historical research, doing some counseling, and writing another book.

Transcript of Interview


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