Vale Freda Whitlam
The Whitlam Institute sends deep condolences to the family and friends of Freda Whitlam, who passed away on 30 May at the age of 97. Freda was the beloved only sister of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
Freda Leslie Whitlam, AM, BA, DipEd (Melbourne), MA (Yale) had a distinguished career in education and the church. She was Principal of Presbyterian Ladies College Sydney from 1958 to 1976, and has a School of Science named there in her honour. She was a prominent member of the Uniting Church of Australia, was the first female Moderator in that church and has been described as “a force behind the union of Presbyterians and Methodists” that led to the church’s creation in 1977. Later in life she supported the establishment of the University of the Third Age (U3A), and taught Latin through that institution.
Freda’s life and career mirrored that of her brother in its commitment to public service and education. Like her brother, Freda enlisted in the RAAF during World War II, where she was a non-commissioned officer.
On Freda’s resignation from PLC Sydney in 1976, the year after the Dismissal, the Canberra Times quotes Freda: “I have a brother who is articulate and idealistic. A lot of people don’t understand politics. A lot of opposition springs from misunderstanding of his policies.” The event was investigated in the 2013 book “Sacking the Principal, Freda Whitlam and PLC.”
The Whitlam Institute was pleased to co-host the launch of a biography of Freda Whitlam in 2009, authored by Noelene Martin and launched by Barry Jones. Ms Martin said “(Freda is) a great encourager and she has a vision. She sees things that need doing and she’ll either do it herself or find someone else who will.”