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Frances Donovan (1923 – 2004)

Photograph from the the private collection of Ailsa Jean and Jerry Winstone, courtesy of RMIT University.

In her interview, Frances describes her initial interest in social work as a profession as “atypical”. Already a qualified and practising teacher, after a negative experience with her employer Frances was attracted by an advertisement for a new course in personnel practice to be offered through the Social Work Department at The University of Melbourne. (During World War II the Social Work Department had offered a six-months welfare officers course for industrial welfare officers; the Department seemed the logical place to house the new post-war personnel practice program.) The program was designed to attract returning service men who would go on to work in industry, and Frances was the only woman in her class when she began the program in 1947. On completion of the three-year course, which consisted of two years of social work education followed by one of personnel practice, she was awarded the Diploma of Social Studies.

Always interested in management, after graduation Frances worked in personnel practice in England, then returned to Melbourne as social worker with the South Melbourne Council. Her next position was as a community worker in New Guinea before returning to Melbourne as Director of Social Work Services at the Red Cross. While with the Red Cross Frances completed her MA thesis on organizational aspects of the Red Cross, then moved to an academic position with the Social Work Department at The University of Western Australia. In 1969 she moved to The University of Melbourne, and in 1972 moved to the then Phillip Institute of Technology as Head of the new social work course being established there. In 1980 she was appointed Assistant Director of the Institute as it went through amalgamation with RMIT, leaving in May 1982 to establish her own human services management consultancy business. She was still engaged in consulting and writing projects at the time of the interview on 13 August 1996.

Transcript of Interview


Audio of Interview

Audio File


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