Human rights activist, Migrant community advocate and Sociologist
In her own words, she was an ‘action oriented person’.
Her life has been a case of putting that theory to practice.
Born: 1922, Port Said, Egypt
Also known as: Dorothea Dimitropoulou
In 1947 she left her Greek home to travel with her English husband and daughter to England. Her husband was an engineer working for the British Overseas Air Corporation [BOAC]. Fourteen years later, in 1961, the family migrated to Sydney, Australia.
First woman to establish an Australian Migrant Women’s Association
- University of New South Wales. Completed a BA in 1969.
- MA Qual (Honours equivalent) in Sociology in 1972.
- Her academic work was pioneering in its focus on migrant women’s needs and concerns.
- While a postgraduate, she worked in the New South Wales Health Department, in schools and Baby Health Centres undertaking research. She also lectured and tutored in various departments at the University of New South Wales. Her research was presented as part of a report entitled Participation to the New South Wales Parliament in 1978, and was regarded as pioneering in its focus on migrant women’s issues and needs.
- In 1974 she established the Australian-Migrant Women’s Association with the aim of alleviating migrant women’s – particularly Southern European women’s – sense of isolation.
- In 1976 she became a founding member of the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, where she continued her leadership work amongst ethnic women.
- In 1977 she was appointed one of seven Commissioners in the Ethnic Affairs Commission. She was responsible for the Area of Women, interacting with government over issues of equal opportunity and integration.
- 1979: Founding Member of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia
- Throughout the 1980s she acted in a number of voluntary positions to improve the conditions of migrant women in the workforce. Buckland-Fuller also continued to publish and present papers at this time, writing on immigrant women and sexual harassment within the workforce, and how to care for and involve ageing people within the ethnic community.
- 1980 – 1981: Local Industrial board of Inquiry to Investigate Allegations of Graft and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Air Conditioning Depot of the State Rail Authority – The inquiry and subsequent report resulted in radical changes benefiting immigrant women in the workplace
- 1982: Member of the working party to investigate services to Non-English Speaking Australians in new South Wales hospitals.
- 1988: Member of the steering committee of the Ethnic Aged Research Project
- 1989: Founding Member of the Association of Non-English Speaking Background Women
- 1994: Member of the New South Wales Older Australians Advisory Committee established by the Commonwealth Department of Human Services
- In 2013 she continued to be involved in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, (a non-profit non-governmental organization working “to bring together women of different political views and philosophical and religious backgrounds determined to study and make known the causes of war and work for a permanent peace” and to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation).
- 2002 – 2004: President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
- May 2003: In May 2003, at the WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) Australia Triennial Meeting in Brisbane, Dorothy gave a workshop under the title: “Peace Begins in One’s Heart”. In this workshop, the concept of peace was explored as beneficial to the Self, with an extension to family, community and the world as a whole. The focus was on the, then current, invasion of Iraq. Dorothy stated she was very angry and disturbed at the time when the Howard government committed Australia to the war, before consulting with the Australian people. In Dorothy’s own words -“I will continue to work for equal rights for all, and the betterment of our society, for as long as I live”.
Awards & Recognition
- 1977: Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee Medal – For services to the community
- 1977: Member of the British Empire (MBE) – For services to the community
- 2001: Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women
- 2001: Council of the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney and New South Wales: Life Membership – Acknowledged for her valuable contribution to the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney and New South Wales
- 2002: Community Women’s Committee Award – Plaque awarded on International Women’s Day for contribution to the welfare of women
- 2002: Greek and Cypriot Women of Australia Award for Excellence
- 2006: Greek Community Women’s Committee. International Women’s Day Celebrations – Honoured for contribution to the community
- 2008: She was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours for “service to the community as a contributor to a range of social justice, ethnic and migrant women’s organisations and through raising awareness of issues affecting women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds”
Upon hearing of Dorothy’s passing friends and acquaintances sent heartfelt messages to express their condolences. These messages were retrieved from Facebook.
- “She had a dream of a just world, free from religious hatreds, free from nuclear weapons, free from the sarcophagus of CO2 we place on our heads. What was most unusual about my friend is that she did not give up hope in spite of the evidence”. [Prof George Paxinos wrote about the passing of his dear friend Dorothy Buckland (aged 97)]
- “Στο καλό, γλυκιά μου Ντόροθυ! Υπήρξες έως τα βαθιά σου γεράματα, έως το τέλος, πρότυπο αγωνιστικότητας και ανθρωπιάς! Η ζωή σου πάνω στη γη δεν πέρασε άδικα… Άφησες το αποτύπωμά σου βαθύ και καθαρό. Αναπαύσου εν ειρήνη τώρα!” [Vasso E. Morali]
- “Ένας άνθρωπος με άλφα κεφαλαίο. Ο λόγος της πάντα καθαρός, χωρίς να μασάει τα λόγια της, με γνώμονα πάντα το καλό και το τίμιο. Στο καλό Ντόροθι…” [Takis Christofi]
- “An amazing,, dynamic woman whose aim was to teach, encourage other women to be involved in community affairs. A fighter for human rights, social justice and gender issues and especially migrant rights. Dorothy was involved in many causes, was passionate about them and a great leader. She had the gift of encouraging people to be involved. She was a great role model for us the younger generation of Greek Australian women and men. She made an invaluable contribution to the Greek Community with her involvement in Greek community affairs. She had an inexhaustible energy and drive for the many causes she espoused”. [Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis]
- “Greek Spirit of Diaspora… Humanity… Ethos… and everything else in between. Always promoting values, Greek culture, customs, traditions. R.I.P.” [Theodoros Megalokonomos]
- “A citizen of the world” What an advocate for justice in all spheres. [Sue Persa Thliveris]
caption: Greek dancing with Gough Whitlam. Picture taken from www.ibiscare.com.au
Dorothy Buckland met the late Gough Whitlam through her involvement in the Greek communities and other Australian organisations. Interview to Vasso Morali as she reflects on Australia’s 21st Prime Minister on the day of his passing.