18 March 2012


I've been thinking a lot about influence this week. How we are influenced by people we know and those we don't; how we allow ourselves to go along with something even though we know inside that it's not right for us; and how we influence other people even without realising it. It's an onerous responsibility.

Yesterday, it all came to a peak when I heard that Margaret Whitlam had died. I was a little teary and I've been trying to think through why this is so.

I have admired and respected Margaret Whitlam since she was thrust into the media's focus when her husband became our Prime Minister in 1972. I was a teenager then and I was sorting out how to become a woman. Looking for role models, I guess.

I think it's difficult for women from later times to understand the impact of 1970s if they don't place events in the historical context of the changes that occurred during that decade. How absurd it seems to call my teenage years 'historic', yet that's what they are. The 1970s are 40 plus years ago. How old does that make me feel?

Margaret Whitlam was her own woman.You can read about her life here and here if you don't know about her. A remarkable woman who showed me how it was possible to be intelligent, forthright and relate to all sorts of people.

I never met her. I wish I had - I think we may have had interesting conversations. But I didn't need to meet her to be influenced by her. That's why I am saddened by the thought that she is with us no longer. I shall miss you, Margaret - one of Australia's national treasures.


  1. I think Margaret Whitlam was a great role model too.

  2. She was a woman of the time, who adapted with the change and regardless of your voting preferences, esteemed by all.

  3. Erica,

    A very remarkable Australian, Margaret Whitlam. I wish I had met her too.


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