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Pearl Marie Lean (1931–2017)

by Allison Murchie

This article was published:

Marie Lean, n.d.

Marie Lean, n.d.

Pearl Marie Lean née Perkins (1926-2017) women’s activist, office worker and fitness instructor

Birth: 18 December 1931 at Katoomba, New South Wales, daughter of native-born parents Aubrey Allen Perkins (1900-1984), butcher and Communist Party of Australia (CPA) activist, and Lily, née Edwards (1901-1977), a housemaid who sewed trench coats in World War I. Marriage: 1970 to Len Lean, union official. They had three sons. Death: 26 July 2017 at Adelaide, South Australia. 

  • Marie was educated at Katoomba Primary School, Hornsby Girls High School, and Metropolitan Business College. Grew up in Sydney. Joined Eureka Youth League (EYL) at age of 18, attended first May Day march at 16 and didn’t miss one since.
  • In 1949-1950 went door knocking to get signatures for Ban the Bomb petition. Joined unity dance group which held festivals in socialist countries every two years. In 1953 toured for six months with group to Genoa, an Austrian Youth Camp, Bucharest, Bulgaria, Romania, Paris and London — travelled to and from Australia by ship and performed on board.
  • Went to third World Youth Festival at Bucharest in 1953 with thirty delegates from Australia — two weeks of sports and cultural events, did songs and dances from Reedy River. Performed in front of 11,000 people. Was in Bucharest when Korean War ended and participated in a massive celebration by delegates from all over the world.
  • Went to many functions to perform on Australia Day and performed at May Day cabarets and trade union functions. Danced at wharves and near ships and factory gates to raise money to go to functions.
  • Joined CPA at 20. With EYL went to youth camp at Springwood. In 1971 was a founder member of Socialist Party of Australia; member of all State Executives. Secretary of South Australian branch from 1992 to 2003 (renamed CPA in 1996). On committee as SPA representative to set up the May Day March in Adelaide. Organised children’s camps at Christmas.
  • Attended Union of Australian Women (UAW) meetings from the early 1950s, member in SA since 1963, on executive since 1972. With UAW marched in anti-Vietnam rallies, wore “I am a woman for Peace” badge, sold many badges to nuns.
  • Involved in many campaigns for family, living standards, rights of workers, childcare, and child endowment through petitions, lobbying and marches. Protested with prams, wearing aprons, shopping bags with slogans. In 1977 went to Prague for pre-International Year of the Child conference organised by the Women’s International Democratic Federation with women from all over the world. Then travelled to Moscow to meet the Soviet Women’s Committee.
  • Was UAW representative on steering committee set up by Department of Community Welfare, also on Grants Committee, for International Year of Child.
  • In 1975 was secretary UAW SA branch, involved in organising a big march for International Women’s Day (IWD) and festival at Festival Centre for all women’s organisations.
  • In 1985 went to Soviet Union as part of Socialist Party delegation, visited Black Sea. Worked with WILPF in the International Year of Peace (1986) to arrange twin cities with Minsk, exchanged letters with various organisations, held exhibition at Old Parliament House linking the cities for peace.
  • Represented SPA on UNAA Status of women Committee in 1976. On IWD committee — presented layettes to first baby born on IWD, organised luncheons with overseas guests. Member Peace Committee for many years, on United Nations Association of Australia Peace and Disarmament committee.

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Citation details

Allison Murchie, 'Lean, Pearl Marie (1931–2017)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012