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Dr Margot Roe

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Margot Roe

Awarded for service to Human Rights

Born: 4 April 1932

Died: 11 December 2010

Entered on roll: 2005

I believe all human beings are equal in their humanity, and if every one just remembered this simple fact in every deal they have with another, there would be no need for the armament industry. That’s pie in the sky I know, but worth striving for. (Margot Roe)

Margot was born in Amsterdam and during her childhood lived in Sri Lanka. She spent the war years in Australia and lived in Kalimantan in Indonesia, until her parents decided she needed to go to school. They then returned to Australia, where she completed her secondary education and went to the University of Melbourne to study History and English.

In 1951, she tried to join the Carlton Branch of the ALP with a number of other young people, however they were refused on the basis of being too left wing and likely to be communists. This was a false accusation, but one which made Margot aware of how easily individuals or groups could be unjustly vilified.

Margot studied anthropology at Cambridge and gained a PhD from the Australian National University. She became a foundation member of the Department of Sociology at the University of Tasmania. She was actively involved in the Department’s pioneering work in providing university programs on the North-West Coast and worked towards the establishment of Riawunna, the University’s Aboriginal Education Centre.

Following her retirement, she was active in social justice and human rights matters. Margot became the President of the Tasmanian branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and Co-President of the Peace Trust. In these positions, she worked on human rights issues, such as refugees, treatment of asylum seekers, trafficking in women and anti-terrorism measures. As an active member of the United Nations Association, she was also involved in working towards the goals of the Beijing Platform for Action on Women and enhancing gender participation in all aspects of the work of the UN and national governments, including peace keeping.

Margot was a founding member of the Hobart City Council’s Networking for Harmony group, which aims to embrace diversity and promote inclusiveness within the community, and Women in Black which protests regularly in Franklin Square to show solidarity with others who want non-violent solutions to social and economic problems. She helped to organise Human Rights Week over several years, and was a longstanding member of Amnesty International.

As a lover of all animals, Margot was involved for many years training companion dogs and supporting the work of the Hobart Dogs Home.

Margot was one of Tasmania’s unsung volunteers, working full-time in a volunteer capacity, with a vitality and enthusiasm that is remarkable.

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