Gwen Goedecke, life-long activist, and member of the Melbourne Branch of the Labour History Society has died. A service to celebrate Gwen’s life will be held this Saturday at 11.00am at the Unitarian Church in Grey Street, East Melbourne.
In 2009, the state government inducted Gwen into the Victorian Honour Roll for Women for her outstanding contributions to the community. Gwen was tireless in her activism to improve the lot of women, and especially women in the west. She was a member of the Union of Australian Women (since 1955), a founding member of the Sunshine International Women’s Committee (since 1974), a founding member of the Footscray Centre for Working Women (since 1974). She served on the Sunshine City Council between 1984 and 1987, becoming only the second woman to do so, and she was a member of the Footscray Local Governance Association. In 2001 Gwen was a recipient of the Centenary Medal for her service to the community, and in 2006 she was named as the Dame Phyllis Frost Woman of the Year. In 2013, Janet Matton spoke of Gwen’s achievements at the launch of the Shilling Wall panel (Queen Victoria Women’s Centre).
Gwen’s career included work at the Victorian Peace Council, the Trade Union Clinic, the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau and as Jim Cairns’ electorate secretary. Gwen was also a member of the Campaign for International Co-operation and Disarmament, and a participant at numerous United Nations International Year of Women Conferences. Gwen believed that activism that improved the social and environmental fabric of society gave both “purpose” and collective “dignity”. Hers was a life well lived, and a life that improved the lives of countless others.