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Ethnee Patricia Shields AM

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Ethnee Shields

Awarded for service to Education and Training

Born: 27 November 1920

Died: 27 March 2006

Entered on roll: 2009

Ethnee Patricia Shields was born in Launceston on 27 November 1920. She grew up on the Clarendon Estate at Nile, where her father worked. Ethnee married John Shields and they had two children.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts, Ethnee taught French at the Methodist Ladies College for many years. She was very involved in her church and was a member of the Catholic Women’s League.

Ethnee’s contribution to raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness began with her own battle with schizophrenia. She became a founding member of the Association for Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI), and following her retirement from teaching, committed herself to the organisation. Ethnee then spent 20 years advocating for change in community attitudes and worked tirelessly to build support networks for the mentally ill and their relatives. This was particularly important when mental health services were deinstitutionalised, with many mental health patients requiring understanding and support in the community.

Ethnee’s work with ARAFMI included lobbying both the State and Commonwealth governments, producing written information, including newsletters, to educate the wider public on mental health issues and establishing the first telephone befriending service in Tasmania manned by carers of the mentally ill. For many years, Ethnee also served on the national Consumer Advisory Group for the Mentally Ill. In 1992, ARAFMI received a Tasmanian Human Rights Award for humanitarian activities.

Ethnee was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 1996 for her service in the field of mental health, particularly through ARAFMI and the national and Tasmanian community advisory groups on mental health. Ethnee died on 27 March 2006 in Launceston.

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