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Ebert, Leonie Marlene (1937–?)

Leonie Marlene Ebert:  Born Ceylon 29 January 1937. Daughter of Eric Neville Ebert, Chief Inspector Railways and Amybelle Fredrica née Cruse, teacher. Married Graham Smith (b. 1924, D. 1989) teacher and peace activist.

Teacher, union activist. Educated at home by mother until age 8, then St Bridget’s College, Cabra College (SA), Adelaide University. Father an activist in improving conditions for workers. Came to Australia in 1952. Taught at several High Schools in Adelaide and country SA, joined South Australian Institute of Teachers (SAIT) in 1961, active from the start of her teaching career, especially in relation to conditions of service; quickly became a member of the State Council and State Executive of SAIT, very militant and spoke at her first public meeting in 1969 on the quality of education; fought for the creation of the position of Women’s Officer, which still exists. Active workplace delegate, in favour of progressive education and inclusive social justice. Deputy President of SAIT in 1981, first women President of SAIT from 1982-3, when SAIT affiliated to United Trades & Labor Council, renamed Australian Education Union. Led the first strike of school assistants in a battle with Public Service Association; in 1973 got the school assistants accepted into the union. Regularly wrote for the union journal. Founding chair of SAIT Status of Women committee, set up many seminars and suggested special 10 days training for women. In 1975 attended and spoke at the World Confederation of Teaching Professionals at Berlin; delegate to the ILO for SAIT in 1982/3. Set up the Graham Smith Peace Trust after the death of her husband Graham Smith in 1989, and went on to work as full time convenor of the trust. President of the Australia Cuba Friendship Society. In 1983 appointed an UNESCO Commissioner. Initiated the Migration Museum and the Philosophers café. Helped to research and write the history of SAIT. Long term active member of WILPF. Awarded the Chancellor’s Medal from Flinders University for outstanding achievement in 1994, in 1997 made life member of Australia Curriculum Studies Association for outstanding service and centenary of Federation medal in 2001.

Original Publication

  • Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement 1788-1975, 2012

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Ebert, Leonie Marlene (1937–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 11 August 2020.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012