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Lorna Leckie (1923 - 2004)

Lorna Leckie circa mid-1990s

After completing an Arts degree at The University of Melbourne with a major in English, Lorna worked part-time as a tutor at the Berlitz School of Languages. Working with non-English speaking people made her aware of other issues facing her students, and with encouragement from friends who had completed the new Diploma of Social Studies at The University of Melbourne, she enrolled in the three-year course in 1950.

She began her social work career in 1953 at the Psychiatric Unit of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. At the end of 1953 she was awarded a travelling scholarship to undertake the post-graduate psychiatric social workers’ course at the London School of Economics; she completed the course in mid-1955. She returned to Melbourne to a joint appointment between Melbourne University’s Department of Social Studies and the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, which required her to spend one day a week teaching at the University, and the remainder of the time doing case work and student supervision in the hospital.

In 1958 or 1959 she took a full time position with the Department of Social Studies at the University, teaching psychiatric social work and running the Field Education program. Lorna enjoyed a period of 12 months study leave in London in 1964, where she worked with the National Association of Mental Health, and then returned to her position in Melbourne. In 1966 she moved to Adelaide to the new Flinders University’s Department of Social Work where again she taught field education and social work practice. From 1969 to 1974 Lorna worked on her PhD at La Trobe University, under the supervision of Professor Jean Martin. On completion of her PhD she was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship at La Trobe, and worked with Professor Martin on a study of recently unemployed senior executives.

In late 1975 Lorna was appointed as a lecturer in the new social work department being established at La Trobe University. She stayed there until mid 1981, when she left to return to clinical work as Senior Social Worker in a geriatric centre at Mt Eliza. At the end of 1988 Lorna regretfully resigned from the geriatric centre for personal reasons, then undertook a range of part-time research and clinical work. Her last paid position was with the Mayfield Education Centre, a private non-profit health professional education centre that had recently begun a course for aged care hostel supervisors. Lorna retired from this position in 1995. At the time of the interview in May 1998 she was tutoring in English and volunteering as a committee member of the Hawthorn Community Education project.

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