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Awarded for service to Education and Training
Born: 19 February 1903 Died: 20 December 1999
Entered on roll: 2015
Loris Russell was an activist in education, gender and social equality.
Loris was born at Barrington and educated in Tasmanian State schools. In 1919, at the age of 16, the Education Department granted her a probationary studentship to teach in a junior position at Devonport State High School. So began the 42 year career of a woman regarded as a brilliant teacher and a strong advocate for the establishment of a comprehensive high school system in Tasmania.
Loris’ influence extended beyond the classroom. She was a catalyst for change by encouraging women teachers to fulfil their potential by applying for promotion and by seeking equal pay.
After spending 18 months as an exchange teacher in London, Loris wrote: "What has been done by women in other parts of the world can be done here... until all teachers, irrespective of sex, are filling... positions which they can best fill, the Education Department will be wasting much talent it can ill afford to waste."
Loris’ motion on the need for equal pay, brought forward at a Tasmanian Teacher’s Federation Council meeting in 1940, was the first in Australia to be accepted. She led the Association of Women Teachers program for equal pay.
Loris was the first woman elected President of the Tasmanian Teachers’ Federation in 1949-1950. The prejudices of the time prevented her from taking office and resulted in a new constitution and election.
Upon Loris’ compulsory retirement at 60 years of age from the Department of Education in 1962, educationalist Mr Harry Vernon Biggins said: "Miss Russell is one of the builders of the Tasmanian secondary education system. Her sincere work in the interests of education has made her contribution to the community a tremendous one."
After retiring from the Education Department, Loris was appointed Senior English teacher at the Lilongwe Girls’ Secondary School, Malawi, in 1966.
Photo credit: Courtesy of The Examiner, Launceston