The National Australia Day Council is saddened by the passing of 2000 Senior Australian of the Year Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs AO.
Freda was born in England and her childhood was shaped by the poverty of the Great Depression and World War Two. After a short-lived career as an office clerk she joined the London Metropolitan Police, where she worked in the child protection field.
Freda subsequently undertook teacher training at Warwick University and embarked on an academic career; as a lecturer she trained educators to identify children who were victims of abuse or neglect.
She emigrated to Melbourne in 1975 to take up a pioneering position as Director of Early Childhood Studies at the State College of Victoria. Freda later moved to Adelaide and rose to the position of Professor of Childhood Development at the University of South Australia. A leading expert on child protection, Freda was the inaugural recipient of the Australian Humanitarian Award in 1998.
She has also campaigned successfully against mandatory retirement, ensuring the contributions of many Senior Australians are properly valued.
“Freda’s extraordinary contribution to the lives of many Australians, both young and old, was recognised when she was honoured as Senior Australian of the Year in 2000 – our first ever female Senior Australian of the Year,” said Jeremy Lasek CEO, National Australia Day Council.
“We were delighted to welcome her as a guest at the 2016 Australian of the Year Awards just a few months ago.
“Freda’s passing is a great loss and our thoughts are with Freda’s family and friends at this time of great sadness.”