Margaret McGregor (1924 - )
Margaret McGregor circa 2000s
Margaret turned eighteen in 1942, and instantly left the teaching job that was part of her teacher training program to join the Royal Australian Air Force where she became a “bored stiff” radar operator at a radar station in Queensland. She decided social work would be a better option, and after her discharge from the Air Force, in 1945 she began the Diploma of Social Studies at The University of Melbourne, the first ex-servicewoman to be admitted to the program.
Margaret’s first social work position was a voluntary one with Broughton Hall, one of the Anglican Homes for the Aged. Her first paid position was with The Brotherhood of St Laurence, where she was employed as an interviewer in a survey related to the leisure activities of people living in the Sunshine area. In 1960 she joined the Victorian Social Welfare Branch where she worked nights and Saturdays, interviewing people who wanted to foster or adopt children. After a break of two years in England, Margaret returned to Australia and took up the position of Director of Southern Family Life Counselling Service at Beaumaris, where she remained for seven years. Southern Family Life made extensive use of volunteers in its services, and Margaret was instrumental in the development of training courses for family aides in child maltreatment cases. After she left Southern Family Life in 1977, Margaret worked with two of the volunteers to write a handbook for volunteers, For Love, Not Money, which was published in 1982, and in 1992 was translated into Japanese.
She was also busy from 1977 trying to establish a Foster Grandparents’ scheme similar to one she had seen in the USA during a study tour she had undertaken in 1975. The first Victorian foster grandparents began their work at St Nicholas Hospital in Carlton, where they worked with some of the intellectually disabled children who were resident there. These pioneers were followed by foster grandparent programs at Yooralla, Janefield, Rosina and Moira, other institutions for the intellectually disabled.
In 1981 she was recruited to work at Yooralla Society of Victoria at the Balwyn complex on a scheme to convert the large residential institution from a medical model run by nurses to a child care model, with residents living in smaller self-contained units. She resigned from this position in 1985.
In 1990 Margaret was approached to assist with organizing a field work component for a new psychology course, the Bachelor of Social Science (Family Studies) being offered at Australian Catholic University’s Chadstone campus. She worked there till mid 1994, when she retired from organisationally-based social work, but continued with a small private practice. She was still working in private practice when interviewed in October 1996.
Transcript of Interview
Audio of Interview
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