Kilbreda Women

2019 Past Pupil of Distinction inductees


Margaret (Maggie) Fitzgibbon OAM

Maggie Fitzgibbon has enjoyed a remarkable career as a singer and performer with much of her success occurring in the United Kingdom, where the list of people she worked with reads like a ‘Who's Who’ of the period. The names include Noel Coward, Danny La Rue, Benny Hill, Morecombe and Wise, Ronnie Corbett, Tony Hancock, Max Bygraves, Jule Styne, Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim.

Maggie was born in 1929 into a family of performers. She attended Kilbreda in the late 30s and early 40s, while her brother Graeme, known as ‘Smacka’, attended St Bede's College, Mentone. Whilst at Kilbreda, Maggie took part in any sort of performance that she could. On leaving, Maggie, who had trained as an operatic soprano under Signor Rebattaro, performed on the Tivoli Circuit from 1946, followed by experience on Sydney radio with Jack Davey.

After finding fame in J. C. Williamson's production of ‘Kiss Me Kate’ in 1952, the first JC Williamson musical theatre show produced in Melbourne, she headed for London. Here she became a regular in pantomimes, performed in cabaret, played the female lead in a TV series, ‘The Newcomers’ and appeared in the first Australian Independent film directed by Bruce Beresford, ‘Sunstruck’, where she stared opposite Harry Secombe. Maggie also appeared in many command performances and hosted her own show, ‘Maggie's Place’. Here, she took the opportunity to promote Australian talent such as ‘The Seekers’.

In 1978, Maggie returned to Australia and purchased a property in North East Victoria. She became involved in her local community. She found the plight of homeless and jobless young people a particular challenge that she wanted to solve. "I couldn't go to sleep at night, knowing that kids were without a place to sleep", she said recently. Maggie provided a cottage on her property for them to undergo rehabilitation during which time they were invited to dine with her at her homestead.

Maggie also served on the local council, was the first female President of a branch of the Farmer's Federation and Secretary of ‘Save the Children’ Foundation. In 2002, she was awarded an OAM for services to the community. Coincidently, her long-time friend and former Kilbreda classmate Joyce McGrath, was a recipient at the same ceremony.

This year, Maggie turned 91 on 29 January and celebrated with residents at her nursing home in Corowa NSW. It was with great sadness that we learned of her recent passing on 8 June 2020.


Laura John

Laura is a Senior Lawyer at Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) with a practice in constitutional law, migration law and international law. In this position, she has advised on the development of significant Commonwealth policy and reform including the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage, the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and Tobacco Control.

Laura is currently completing a Master of International Law through Australian National University. This year she received the Kirsten Sjolander Memorial Prize for Advanced International Human Rights Law and was also the recipient of the 2018 George Witynski SC Academic Scholarship, honouring the legacy of Witynski, a long time AGS lawyer whom the Sydney Morning Herald called “one of the finest government lawyers of his generation”.

In 2014, Laura was selected as the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations, the only role of its kind in the country. Laura also undertakes a pro bono secondment to the Women’s Legal Centre ACT and also volunteers regularly at the Consumer Law Centre ACT. She has previously volunteered with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne and Human Rights First in New York, assisting asylum seekers and refugees to seek protection.

While at Kilbreda, Laura aspired to work for the United Nations (UN). Since graduating she has gained expereince with various UN agencies; including as a consultant for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and as a speaker at both the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Global Citizenship Education Forum in Paris and the World Education Forum in South Korea.

Laura is currently the National President of the UN Association of Australia’s (UNAA’s) Young Professional’s Network and represents the Young Professionals Network as a Director on the UNAA National Board. Laura regularly speaks at schools and conferences on youth leadership, career opportunities and resilience.

In recognition of her contribution to the community over many years, Laura has been awarded Victorian Youth Representative – National Youth Week (2011), Young Citizen of the Year – City of Kingston (2013), Sri Lankan Youth of the Year – Australia (2014) and Graduate of the Year – Australian Public Service (2015).


Doctor Bridie Kean

Bridie contracted Meningococcal Septicaemia at the age of two and her feet were amputated as a result of numerous orthopaedic surgeries. Being unable to participate in sport caused her great frustration.  In her second year at Kilbreda, Bridie attended the 2000 Paralympic Games as a spectator and was exposed to the game she loved, basketball, being played within a wheelchair. This was a life changing moment for Bridie. In her response Bridie stated, “Discovering wheelchair basketball not only introduced me to a sport, but to role models who made me realise that as people with disabilities we are just as capable of training hard and working toward our sporting goals as everyone else”.

Bridie took up wheelchair basketball in 2000 and was a member of the Paralympic Bronze Medal Team at Beijing. By 2012, she was captain of the Australian Paralympic Women’s Basketball team in London where they won a silver medal. She competed in the World Championship in 2014 and was training for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games until the end of 2015 which unfortunately the team failed to qualify for. Bridie then took up canoeing and won gold in the Para Mixed V12 500m and the Para Mixed V6 1000m finals at the 2016 Va’a Federation World Elite and Club Sprint Championships.

Bridie has gone on to achieve a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois, a Master in Public Health from the University of Queensland and in 2018 was awarded a PhD from the University of Sunshine Coast. Whilst at Illinois, Bridie had the opportunity to pursue both her sporting goals and education within a program that enabled students to strive in both pursuits at the same time. Undertaking her PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast she was able to balance training for the Australian Wheelchair Basketball Team with her PhD research. Her PhD is titled ‘Environmental Factors Influencing Para Student-Athletes’.

Bridie has managed the University of the Sunshine Coast Sports Elite and Education Dual Stream (USC SEEDS) program, Australia’s first university program to intentionally support athletes with a disability to pursue sport and tertiary education. Bridie’s work at the university focusses on the health benefits of sport for people with a disability. Bridie is also the President of the Suncoast Spinners, a group that is implementing an Inclusive Schools project which will focus on embedding wheelchair basketball into the Physical Education curriculum.

An award in Bridie’s honour is presented to a Year 8 student at Kilbreda each year who demonstrates compassion and bravery.


Katrina Leason

Katrina Leason (née O’Donnell) had over 25 years’ experience, working with and for, all levels of government and community organisations to create healthy, inclusive environments and constantly strove to improve the outcomes for women particularly in relation to violence against women.

Most recently, Katrina worked as a Councillor Advocate for the Royal Women’s Hospital.  Throughout her career, she led a number of key initiatives with organisations including AFL Victoria (VicHealth), Victoria Police and South East Centre Against Sexual Assault (Monash Health) to provide support and improve community partnerships. Much of her work across these organisations involved crisis counselling for victims of violence, crime and abuse. Katrina was always working to protect the most vulnerable in society.

As AFL Victoria’s Respect and Responsibility Manager Katrina successfully developed and implemented a ‘Respect and Responsibility’ training package which reached 15,000 club members across three leagues and 93 clubs. “The cause”, as she referred to it, to increase women and girls’ participation in grass roots football is alive and thriving now.  Katrina’s policies and research have been implemented to ensure football clubs become strong role models for the community and have significant capacity to promote gender equitable inclusive environments. This passion was lived out at a local level by her involvement with the Beaumaris Football Club through support and fundraising efforts.

Another of Katrina’s notable achievements was as a founding member of the Collective who established a refuge for young women who were victims of incest, known as Zelda’s Place. At her living wake, Katrina was honoured by this Collective with the inaugural Zelda D’Aprano Lifetime Achievement Award to acknowledge her ongoing work in contributing to the elimination of violence against women.

Katrina, after living the Kilbreda motto of Strength and Kindliness and working in so many ways to contribute to making a difference in the lives of others, particularly women, lost a tough battle with cancer on Wednesday 29 May 2019.

2017 Past Pupil of Distinction inductees

Carol Gaston

Carol Gaston AM

Carol Gaston (née Wilckens) started her professional life as a nurse and has worked in the Victorian, Western Australian and South Australian health systems, in a remote Aboriginal community and as a volunteer in Nigeria, Bangladesh and Sabah. She has also acted as an advisor to public, private and not-for-profit human services industries in South Australia and the Northern Territory. In addition, Carol has worked for the World Health Organisation in the Asian, Pacific and African regions establishing health workforce plans for countries such as Vanuatu, the Philippines, Laos and Zambia.

Carol was the chief nurse in the South Australian health system and led the drive to transfer hospital training to the higher education sector. She was also the first female and nurse to chair the Board of the Royal District Nursing Service. More importantly, Carol was instrumental in changing the occupational health and safety legislation to cover nurses, thereby reducing their back injuries. In 2008, Carol was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services in health and nursing and for humanitarian work in Australia and overseas. She has been Chair of the Cancer Council (SA); a member of The Cancer Council Australia; a Governor of The Adelaide Bank Charitable Foundation; Chairman of the Alexandrina Council Arts and Cultural Committee and a Board member of ECH (formerly Elderly Citizens Homes).

Carol has also established the Goolwa and District Community Bank and is Chair of the Board, receiving the local Business Association Community Award for establishing this community enterprise. More recently, Carol established a community centre in her town in order to provide engagement and skill development opportunities for many people who would otherwise be socially isolated.

Judith Kinnear

Professor Judith Kinnear

Professor Judith Kinnear’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and PhD (Genetics), all from the University of Melbourne, a Bachelor of Education (La Trobe University) and Graduate Diploma in Computer Simulation (Swinburne).  Judith also holds a Graduate Diploma in Forensic Studies conferred by the University of Canberra in 2016.  In 2015, Swinburne University of Technology awarded Judith an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of her significant contribution to science and higher education.  She is also a Fellow of The Linnaean Society of London.

Judith has held the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) and Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney and Director of Studies in the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University. Judith’s professional endeavours culminated with her appointment as Vice Chancellor of Massey University in 2003, making her the first female to lead a University in New Zealand.  She has also been influential in the area of curriculum development through her collaboration with Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) in the United States and is the author of several textbooks and prize-winning educational software packages.

Judith is a founding member of the Leaders-Women International Network (L-WIN), established in 2008 under the leadership of Chancellor Noriko Mizuta of Josai University, Japan and a foreign member of the Council of the Women Leadership Academy set up in Beijing in 2013. She is an active member and patron of various organisations and supports a number of charitable organisations and community groups. Judith also sponsors a Travel Scholarship awarded annually, at Swinburne University of Technology, to a post graduate student in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Mayumi Purvis

Doctor Mayumi Purvis

Dr Mayumi Purvis studied Psychology and Criminology within a Bachelor of Arts Degree and holds a PhD in Criminology from the University of Melbourne. She is a clinical criminologist, independent consultant, researcher and Honorary Fellow at The University of Melbourne, School of Social and Political Sciences (Criminology), where she lectures to postgraduate students.

Mayumi is also a member of a government expert panel designed to review and implement standards in all prison-based Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) treatment programs. In addition, she volunteers her time as Chairperson of Headspace Bairnsdale and is responsible for leading a consortium of services aimed at improving the lives and wellbeing of young persons aged 12 to 25 years.

Mayumi’s expertise is in the management and rehabilitation of sexual offenders. She has developed and implemented a Sex Offenders Specialist Case Management Model into correctional services and is Company Director of Criminological Consulting Australia (CCA). Mayumi has delivered correctional officer training (both locally and interstate) including ‘Case Management’, ‘Professional Boundaries in Correctional Settings’, ‘Working Safely with Sexual Offenders’ and ‘Self-Care and Mentoring for Case Managers’ to over two thousand correctional officers, psychologists and students.

Mayumi also designed and co-wrote the accredited Specialist Certificate in Criminology (Sexual Offender Management) course, run specifically for correctional officers who manage high-risk sexual offenders, which she delivers at Melbourne University. This is the only course of its kind in the world. Mayumi has published several papers related to sex offender management and is currently writing a book titled “Seven things you must tell your child about pornography… and how and when to say it”. This book is designed to help parents address the profound effects that pornography is having on children.

Marilyn Warren

The Honourable Professor Marilyn Warren AC

Marilyn Warren AC is both the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria. She is also the former Chair of the Victoria Law Foundation, the Council of Legal Education and the Council of the Institute of Forensic Medicine.

Marilyn studied law at Monash University, graduating Juris (Bachelor of Jurisprudence) and completing the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) in 1973 and 1974 respectively and Master of Laws in 1983. In 2004, she was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by Monash University. Marilyn was called to the Victorian Bar in 1985 and practiced as a Barrister in areas such as commercial and administrative law. On 25 November 1997, Marilyn was appointed a Queens Counsel. In 1998, she was appointed a judge in the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria and was later appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (thus becoming Chief Justice of Victoria) on 25 November 2003. Marilyn is the first woman to be appointed to this office in an Australian Supreme Court.

In 2005 Marilyn was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for service to the judiciary and to the legal profession particularly the delivery and administration of law in Victoria, to the community in areas affecting the social and economic conditions of women and to forensic medicine internationally. In 2014, Marilyn was announced as Monash University Alumni of the year. She is the Patron of the Victorian Women Lawyers, the Victorian Women Barristers’ Association and the Funds in Court Inspire Awards.

Marilyn was also a champion squash player, winning the University’s women’s championship ten years in a row. She also represented Victoria three times, in a team which won the Australian Championships three years running.