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Awarded for service to Human Rights
Born: 1919 Died: 19 November 2011
Entered on roll: 2006
Born in Hobart and raised in a Quaker family, Bronwen Meredith learnt the values of tolerance, peace and justice from an early age. Educated at The Friends’ School, she ran a Junior League of Nations as a student, with talks and discussions about the role of the League of Nations in peace making and social justice issues. In 1938, she attended the Phillip Smith Teachers College to train as a teacher, and also studied for her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Tasmania.
She married her husband, Richard, in 1945 and together they became interested in prison reform, actively working to oppose the death penalty of a young man. In 1956, Bronwen and her husband moved to Papua New Guinea where they both taught at a mission school. Their five children accompanied them. Returning to Hobart in 1961, Bronwen did a library course and worked at New Town High School for 10 years.
Bronwen joined the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Tasmania when it re-formed in 1963. One of the first campaigns she became involved with in WILPF was opposing French nuclear testing in the Pacific, and then the Vietnam War, when she and her husband assisted young men facing the draft.
She became the first Secretary for WILPF in 1970 and was also involved in conducting a branch of Amnesty International at the time. In 1967 Bronwen attended an international Quaker conference in North Carolina and spent six weeks at the Quaker office in New York. While there she summarised the attitude of members of the United Nations Organisations to the Vietnam War, as expressed by the General Assembly. This summary was printed and presented to then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.
In 1973 concern for indigenous people moved Bronwen and her husband to join the Commonwealth Service in the Northern Territory. They taught in government schools in Darwin and Katherine for seven years.
Bronwen and her husband moved to England in 1981 where she became active in both Amnesty International and the UK branch of WILPF.
In 1986 Bronwen became the national Secretary of WILPF and was President of the Religious Society of Friends in Australia for four years. She spoke out against the war in Iraq at the Hobart International Day of Action in 2003 and is still an active and valued member of WILPF.