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Awarded for service to the Community
Entered on roll: 2006
Born in Central Queensland, Eris Smyth was educated by correspondence school and later attended boarding school. She studied at Duchesne College at the University of Queensland and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree. After working in the economics section of the University, she travelled overseas for four years, working first as a book buyer for Wymans and then for the Mitsui Bank in London.
Eris married Stephen Smyth and has eight children. She obtained her librarianship qualification before her last child started school. The family moved to Tasmania in 1957.
Eris has made a major contribution to the trade union and women’s movement in Tasmania. Her trade union involvement spanned 20 years, from 1972 to 1992. During that time she worked on upgrading the Workers’ Compensation Act and became a delegate for the Hobart Trades and Labour Council, and then the Tasmanian delegate to the Australian Council of Trade Unions Women’s Committee for six years.
Her contribution to the community has included being a foundation member of Caroline House, which commenced operation as a women’s shelter in 1978. She was also a member of Holyoake Incorporated and served on the board for seven years. She is a Life Member of the Catholic Women’s League and has been a member since 1958. She is also a member of the National Council of Women Tasmania, having served as both President (2000-02) and Secretary. She was an inaugural member of the Women’s Action Alliance Tasmania, and is still an active member.
Her commitment to social justice and significant contribution to the Tasmanian community was recognised when she received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1994 for service to the community and trade union movement. In 2001, she was awarded the Centenary Medal for more than 30 years’ dedicated voluntary service to the Tasmanian women’s movement.