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Oral history is spoken memory. It is the personal opinion of the interviewees, recalled sometimes years after events took place, and may not accord with the recollections of others. Events described are not verified, and descriptions may or may not be accurate. Similarly, comments about other individuals are presented as they were made by the interviewees, and are the opinions of the interviewees at the time the interviews took place. Please bear this in mind as you read the material contained here.

The Interviews

All interviews followed the same format, with interviewees being asked how they became interested in social work, how they were educated for the profession, their employment experiences, the joys and frustrations of their working lives, their involvement with the AASW, changes related to the practice of social work that they had observed over their careers, and finally, what they foresaw as the future of the profession.

The transcripts contain a treasure trove of observations and descriptions of the early days of professional social work in Victoria. As is to be expected, interviewees entered the profession for a range of reasons, and their professional lives moved in a variety of directions. Their practice included casework, group work, community work, social planning and social action. Some were active in establishing new services and agencies, some worked in the early days of State and Commonwealth welfare departments, some pursued interests in psychotherapy. All seem to share an underpinning belief in social justice, a shared desire to help build a better society, and a conviction that the AASW has an important responsibility to highlight disadvantage wherever it is found in our community, and to suggest alternative ways of being. In many ways the thoughts expressed are as fresh and current as if they were being recorded today.

The interviews are presented in alphabetical order, with each transcript preceded by a brief biography that focuses on the individual’s work history.

We are seeking photographs for Edith Bennet, Jill Leisengang, Margaret Calder and Joanna Crawshaw. If you have photographs of these persons, please email [email protected].

The Transcripts

Hospital social workers

Local Government social workers


Contact the Victorian Branch

Victorian Branch Services Coordinator
(Monday to Friday)

Ph: 03 9320 1000 or 1800 630 124 (toll free alternative)
E: [email protected]

Level 7, 14-20 Blackwood Street
North Melbourne

PO Box 2008
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Parkville Vic 3050

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AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers