Sylvia Geddes (Garnham)
Following Balwyn High School there were a few false starts. I found that nursing (at the Alfred Hospital) wasn’t the career for me and I finally joined the Commonwealth Public Service so that I could study part time! I matriculated at the end of 1968 and after moving to Sydney with my first husband, graduated in Arts Honours from Sydney University in 1974. Moving to Canberra after graduation I worked in the then Public Service Board and the then Department of Social Security. I was fortunate in achieving senior positions and having very interesting policy and program work which involved travelling widely in Australia and overseas. I was involved in the negotiations and establishment of both the Supported Accommodation Assistance (SAAP) Program (which lasted until the end of 2008 when it was replaced by a new national agreement) and the Home and Community Care (HACC) Program which is still in operation. The 1970s and early 1980s were good times to be a young person in the Public Service in Canberra.
In the mid-1980s I returned to Melbourne as the first Victorian State Director of the then newly formed Commonwealth Department of Community Services. Subsequently I joined the Victorian Public Service and after a period working in senior positions and undertaking a number of major reviews, I established my own consultancy business. I was fortunate to have interesting work with all three levels of government and the non-government sector. After another period working in Sydney, I returned to the Australian Public Service to head for three years the then Office for the Aged in Canberra.
In 1997 I returned to Melbourne with my second husband to become Manager, Charitable Services, ANZ Trustees. After three years I became CEO of The RE Ross Trust (www.rosstrust.org.au), a major Victorian Charitable Trust. This was a wonderful opportunity to bring to bear my years of experience with governments and non-government agencies to contribute to reducing disadvantage and inequity as well as to build and share new knowledge and assist with environmental conservation. I retired from the Ross Trust in 2008 after eight years.
During my career I served on Victorian and Australian Government advisory committees for vulnerable children, young people, families and those who are homeless and was a council member of the Australian Red Cross Victoria, including a period as Vice-Chair.
After my retirement I spent three years as a Board member of VACRO (www.vacro.org.au) a non-government agency which supports Victorians who have come into contact with the criminal justice system and their families and helped to establish the Sounding Board of the Flinders Quartet, a Melbourne-based string quartet (www.flindersquartet.com). I am presently a Board member (Trustee) of both the State Library of Victoria (www.slv.vic.gov.au) and Trust for Nature (www.trustfornature.org.au), both a great privilege.
I have two step daughters and four grandchildren and am very involved with the Melbourne family. I cycle weekly with a group of COTA “oldies” and walk a lot. Attending chamber music performances (sadly not playing), reading and travelling are the luxuries of a life retired from paid employment.
(Click on this link to read Sylvia's memories of Balwyn High School)