Elery Hamilton-Smith (1929 - 2015)
Elery Hamilton-Smith circa 1990s
Like that of many social workers, Elery’s entry to social work was by a circuitous route. Elery began a science degree at the University of Adelaide, but dropped out and drifted around Australia for some time, in the process becoming aware of the amount of human malfunction and unhappiness that existed after the war. Thinking he might be able to “do something” about this, he applied for admission to the two-year undergraduate social work diploma being offered by the University of Adelaide, where he began his studies in 1950. After completing the course part-time over six years while working as a child care worker and a teacher of science and outdoor education programs, in 1957 Elery joined Melbourne’s Brotherhood of St Laurence team where he worked on the Family Service Project that was designed to “rehabilitate multi-problem families” that had been re-located to East Preston after they lost their former housing in Royal Park because of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
His next employer was the Association of Youth Clubs, an organization that existed to provide support to the growing number of youth clubs in communities across Victoria. His experiences with this organisation solidified Elery’s growing interest in community development and social planning, an interest he pursued as he moved in the mid 1960s to become an advisor to the developing local government community services area in Australia, and also to a number of Asian countries that were interested in community development.
In the late 1960s Elery established a full-time practice as a social planner and social researcher, consulting with government and government agencies in over 25 countries. This was followed in 1977 by a move to the new Department of Leisure Studies at the Preston Institute of Technology, where he had been previously engaged as a consultant in the development of the both the Leisure Studies and the Social Work programs.
In 1993 Elery left his position as Foundation Professor in the Leisure Studies Program at what had by then become part of RMIT, and took a position in a Research Centre at La Trobe University, where he was employed at the time of the interview on 21 August 1996.
Transcript of Interview
Audio of Interview
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