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Dorothy Pearce MBE

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Dorothy Philp Pearce MBE

Awarded for service to the Community

Born: 15 October 1923

Entered on roll: 2008

Dorothy Pearce was born in Hobart and educated at the Friends School. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Tasmania, Dorothy Pearce studied social work in Melbourne for two years. She completed a third year of study, an Almoners course, on a Red Cross scholarship. It was at Dorothy’s graduation in 1946 that she commenced her long association with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). Dorothy spent the next four years working for the Red Cross in Adelaide, followed by four years with the Anti-Cancer Council in the Radiotherapy Department of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. During these eight years she took an active part in the South Australian Branch of the AASW and the Australian Association of Hospital Almoners and was closely associated with the South Australian Council of Social Services (SACOSS).

Dorothy moved back to Hobart in 1955, where she was able to help rebuild the struggling Tasmanian Branch of the AASW. She served for many years on the executive committee of the Branch where she held various offices including that of Branch President. She was the Tasmanian member of the professional Education and Training Committee and convenor of the Committee on Early Australian Qualifications and was elected Junior Vice President of the Association in 1969 and 1970 and Senior Vice President in 1971. As branch delegate to the Federal Council of the AASW her contributions were such that she was also made convenor of the Federal Constitution and Standing Orders Committee in 1971.

Through her involvement with the AASW, Dorothy was active in building educational and professional opportunities for social workers in Tasmania. She was a member of the training committee which paved the way for a social work course to be set up in Tasmania in 1973.  Dorothy also held a position developing the Social Work Department within the Royal Hobart Hospital, a position that had not been filled since Catherine Walker was the hospital almoner for three years in the 1930s.

Dorothy was integral to the early development of the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS) as a functional and representative peak body for the Tasmanian community services sector. As President of the Tasmanian AASW, Dorothy joined with the Director of the then Department for Social Welfare, Mr G.C. Smith, in convening the inaugural meeting of the TasCOSS in the Hobart Town Hall in December 1961. Dorothy continued to be involved with TasCOSS, as a long-serving and dedicated Honorary Secretary and then in various voluntary capacities. Dorothy has devoted much of her time, energy and commitment to the organisation, particularly at a time when it was struggling for resources and recognition. Since 2003 TasCOSS has honoured Dorothy with an annual Dorothy Pearce Address, which promotes current social justice issues to a wide and varied audience.

Prior to her retirement, Dorothy fulfilled a personal goal to go trekking in the Himalayas. Now 85 years old, Dorothy still contributes to the community, volunteering for Meals on Wheels and the State Library courier service for homebound clients.

Dorothy was made a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1977 for service to the community.

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