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Kathryn Barnsley

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Kathryn Barnsley

Awarded for service to Health

Born: 26 December 1949

Entered on roll: 2013

"…tobacco companies were killing off their traditional customers − men − so they needed to replace them with women."

- Kathryn Barnsley, "Warrior in tobacco battle", The Examiner, 8 December 1999, page 21.

Tobacco reform and advancing the health and wellbeing of the Tasmanian community earned Kathryn Barnsley an international reputation.

Public health is not glamorous but it has been rewarding, according to Kathryn, born in South Australia on 26 December 1949.

In 1996, Kathryn, as an officer with the Department of Health's Public and Environmental Health Division, was responsible for the development of Tasmania's Public Health Act 1997,  which included world-leading tobacco control provisions prohibiting the tobacco industry from making misleading statements about tobacco legislation or the health effects of tobacco; the development of restrictions on the display of tobacco products and point-of-sale advertising; and smoke free areas legislation in public places, workplaces and restaurants.

Tasmania's tobacco reforms resulted in Kathryn being consulted by other countries.   The World Health Organisation (WHO) invited Kathryn to address conferences in the Philippines and Japan and to make presentations about the Tasmanian reforms to representatives from other countries.  Some of the Tasmanian reforms were included in the WHO International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Kathryn was appointed a member of the National Expert Advisory Committee on Tobacco (1999-2001), was a volunteer Tobacco Control Adviser to the Cancer Council of Tasmania (2002-2011), and was convenor of SmokeFree Tasmania (2005-2006). Kathryn is currently a PhD candidate researching tobacco and public policy at the University of Tasmania.

Tobacco reform gave Kathryn an international profile in public health, however, she also managed other health legislation through Parliament such as the HIV/AIDS Preventive Measures Act 1993, which allowed needle exchange programs to be established, and The Food Act 1998. Kathryn also managed the Home and Community Care and Residential Aged Care reforms in the early 1990s.

A champion of women's rights, Kathryn has advocated for such rights and against discrimination, through the Women's Electoral Lobby in the 1970s, National Women's Consultative Council in the 1980s and was the Department of Health's first Equal Employment Opportunity Officer in 1989.

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