Vale, Freda Whitlam

Freda Whitlam passed away on Wednesday 30 May, at the age of 97.

Ms Whitlam was the ninth Moderator of NSW/ACT Synod from 1985 to 1986, the second lay woman in the role and an influential and active member of Penrith Uniting Church.

Much like her brother, former Prime Minister Edward ‘Gough’ Whitlam, Ms Whitlam was a witty and commanding presence.

A Fulbright Scholar (1954) Ms Whitlam was famously sacked as Principal of prestigious private school Presbyterian Ladies College in Croydon (the details of which form the basis of a book by William McKeith) for her progressive attitudes toward girl’s education, a year after her brother’s dismissal from the Prime Ministership.

Ms Whitlam was subsequently awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her services to the school and education in 1987.

The Moderator of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of New South Wales and the ACT, the Rev. Simon Hansford said, “Freda was truly a servant of God her entire life.”

“The Uniting Church has always been proud of the long tradition of women in leadership both, lay and ordained.”

“We give thanks to God for her leadership and her ministry in all elements of her life.”

Ms Whitlam was a member of the board that founded Western Sydney University, and helped bring to Australia the University of the Third Age (U3A), a movement that provides education to seniors, to Penrith and the Blue Mountains.

Ms Whitlam remained active in this space, teaching Latin at U3A well into her 90s.

Born in 1920, Ms Whitlam will be remembered as a deeply passionate advocate for education and women’s ministry in the Uniting Church.

Ms Whitlam's funeral will be held on 15 June, 11am at Penrith Uniting Church.


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Lisa Sampson, Media Relations,
M: 0414 947 000