What do you do?
I’m retired but involved with several different organisations. My husband and I are also full-time carers for our son Mark who suffered a severe brain injury caused by a stroke in 2013.
I know you’re involved with the Wandiligong Preservation Society? What’s that group responsible for and how long have you been involved?
The WPS manages and maintains 49 hectares of land in Wandiligong from behind the pub down to Stephen’s Bridge. The group was formed by Coral Bennett who originally mounted a campaign to save the Wandi Hall and wanted to preserve bits of Wandiligong that held significance. Coral also believed in public access to public land so the Crown Land which the WPS looks after was turned into a recreation reserve through her efforts. Coral got me involved back in the 1980s and then she grabbed me again when I returned up this way in about 2005. I took on the presidency when she passed away. The WPS has got about 50 members and a committee of seven. Its main focus is revegetating, weed control and maintenance of the tracks and bridges. To maintain nearly 50 hectares is a big ask so we rely heavily on local residents volunteering. Alpine Shire Council also support us by giving the WPS $5000 per annum.
What other organisations are you involved with?
I’m a director of North East Health in Wangaratta. I worked in health and welfare for most my \ life and that’s something I enjoy because it keeps me in touch with the health system. I’m also on the board of NESAY (North East Support and Action for Youth) which also operates out of Wangaratta.
Tell us a little bit about the work you did in the health and welfare areas?
I first started off working for Ovens Valley Emergency Care and Accommodation which was a tiny little organisation. We used to place kids in foster care, help young homeless people and we also had a couple of caravans for emergency homelessness which we’d move around the Alpine Shire for people and families. After that I opened a book shop in Wangaratta for about four years then I entered public service, working for what is now the Department of Health and Human Services. I started out in children’s services early on and then went on work in the disability system for 20 years. I was in Melbourne for that and then returned to North East as CEO of Ovens and King Community Health Service, a role I had until I resigned in 2015 to care for Mark.
I understand your family has a long history in the local area?
That’s correct, I was actually brought up in Everton but my family comes from Harrietville. My family’s history in the area goes back to the gold mining era. Both my great grandfathers, Henry Wraith and Donald Gow were goldminers. My grandfather on my father’s side Frank Wraith ran the general store in Bright and in Harrietville. He also had the first ski hire and with pack horses used to take people up over the mountains. The Wraith side also owned the Harrietville side of the Dargo High Plains which were worked by my father who was a cattleman.