This is very much a work in progress. There is more editing to do and the in-text notes will eventually be transformed into endnotes.
This text is the first half of what will be a very long chapter reflecting Ann Symonds’ long commitment to prison reform). It may seem perverse to post something unfinished. But online publishing allows authors to ask for feedback and assistance. I drafted most of this account of Ann’s work in isolation. First there were three lockdowns and now my access to sources has been curtailed by my role as a carer. I have Ann’s papers and her taped interviews but I need to talk to other people, both supporters and critics of her approach. I would welcome suggestions about contacts and alternative sources, as well as criticism of the text so far. I am quite prepared to be told where and how I have got things wrong.
We have uploaded the latest chapter in the history of Ann’s political career: The Making of a Not-so-Accidental Politician. Based on interviews, documents and Ann’s extensive archive, Hilary Golder explores Ann’s path into the New South Wales Parliament. A key issue was affordable child care, the 1970s campaign which lifted Ann’s profile in the Labor Party. It makes fascinating reading given the current debates about child care.
Dr Golder has embarked on the next chapter about Ann’s campaigns for women prisoners and the children of prisoners. Ann continued to fight for the rights of women and children within the criminal justice system throughout her career as a member of the Legislative Council and after her retirement, right up until her death in 2018. It was a cause about which she was particularly passionate.
POSC’s work on Ann’s career in politics involves not only Dr Golder’s research and writing, but also a major undertaking to manage Ann’s archives. Dr Golder and archivist Gabrielle Hyslop have been sorting the 97 boxes of papers from Ann’s office in the NSW Parliament. A selection of her records were kept in the Parliamentary Archives but the material in the 97 boxes was not required for that collection. Once the documents have undergone archival appraisal, arrangement and description, they will form an invaluable resource for future researchers.
We welcome your feedback about our website and the chapters recounting Ann’s political life. If you would like to contribute to Ann’s story, please contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support!
Vale Ann Symonds AM
Originally published by Miranda Matters – Issue 11, May 2019
On 15 November 2018 Ann Symonds AM died in Sydney after a long illness. She had been instrumental in the establishment of the Miranda Project, providing initial funding for a scoping study. During and following her seventeen years as a member of the NSW Legislative Council, Ann had been a tireless and unflinching advocate for women and children, drug law reform, gun control and peace. She was the much-loved patron of SHINE for Kids and the Corrective Services NSW Mothers and Children’s (residential) Program. Her warmth, humour, energy and intelligence endeared her to the many people she worked with to achieve positive change.
Ann was chair of the Corrective Services NSW Women’s Advisory Council when she heard, through the then Principal Advisor for Women Deirdre Hyslop, now Program Director of the Miranda Project, about UK Women’s Centres that supported women to address their needs. For women in the criminal justice system, the centres had shown success in keeping women in the community, serving community-based sentences rather than jail terms. One of the key areas of activism for Ann was keeping women with their children, and that included keeping them out of prison. Through unfailing encouragement and some funding, she paved the way for the Miranda Project to come to fruition.
The Politics of Social Change Foundation has been set up by a group of women committed to redressing women’s inequality and disadvantage. To inspire others to become agents of progressive change we are writing the Ann’s story.
Read the introductory chapter of her tale at here
Researcher/author, Dr Hilary Golder, is currently reading reports and Ann’s parliamentary papers relevant to women in prison in preparation for the prisons chapter. Contact is welcomed from anyone who had contact with Ann in relation to her activism in this area. Information as well as donations are very warmly welcomed.
The Politics of Social Change Foundation has been accepted by the National Foundation of Australian Women (NFAW) as a preferred donor fund, meaning tax deductible donations can be made through a secure link on the NFAW website: www.nfaw.org/donate/ Highlight Politics of Social Change Foundation on the drop-down menu for donations. A tax-deductible receipt will be generated automatically.