Jessie Street Trust

In 1988 an organising committee came together to celebrate the centenary of one of the foremost but relatively unknown 20th century Australian activists, Jessie Street. Events included: a conference (from which a book was published), tribute speeches in Parliament, and an Australia Post commemorative envelope – the first ever for an Australian woman. In April 1989, on her 100th birthday, a lunch was held for Jessie in the NSW Parliamentary Dining Room. This began the annual fundraising event.

Such was the response from women everywhere, and from the Street family, that the committee established the Jessie Street Trust to hold an annual birthday lunch, through which funds are raised to provide seeding grants. Jessie often used her own money to support causes she cared about. The Trust continues the tradition by awarding an annual grant to assist activities Jessie championed, including the rights of women and indigenous people, peace and disarmament, and the elimination of discrimination.

Over the years, the work of the Trust has led to the Sydney City Council and other local government authorities dedicating parks and gardens to Jessie Street. The Commonwealth named its new offices in Parramatta after her. JST aims to inspire citizens about the work of the woman who contributed to the construction of Sydney and our ways of living.


Genevieve Abbey

Genevieve graduated from Sydney University in 2010, and believes Jessie’s example is still relevant to students 100 years on. Jessie was a powerful role model; a high achiever who didn’t let political obstacles stand in her way. Genevieve is proud to contribute to the Jessie Street Trust, which provides a platform to spark new ideas and to show what can be achieved through our passion and commitment to social justice issues.


Patricia Amphlett OAM

Pattie took a strong hold on the Australian music scene during the mid 1960s. With a succession of hits, Pattie established herself as a prominent force in the industry. She continues to maintain a high profile through her writing, producing, performing, and public speaking.

Pattie’s involvements include: the Federal President of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance; and Board Member of both the Whitlam Institute and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. She is continually inspired by Jessie’s tenacity and dedication to peace, equality and opportunity for all.


Margy Burn

Margy Burn arranged a small exhibition at the State Library of New South Wales in 1989 in celebration of the centenary of Jessie Street’s birth. A few years later she was invited to become a Trustee.

Margy left the State Library to take up the position of Assistant Director-General, Australian Collections and Reader Services at the National Library of Australia in 1999. At the National Library, Margy’s responsibilities include the custodianship of Jessie Street’s personal papers, a large collection of 31 boxes (MS 2683) which documents Jessie’s life and work. Many of the photographs which illustrate the website are taken from Jessie Street’s papers in the National Library.


Juliet Cobb

While working for the NSW Women’s Coordination Unit, Juliet was involved in organising the Jessie Street centennial celebrations in 1989. Inspired by Jessie’s feminist ideals and by the eclectic bunch of fans and family who united to commemorate her life and vision, Juliet became a foundation member of the Jessie Street Trust when it formed the following year.

Juliet has a background in editing and writing and currently manages educational projects for documentary production company Iris Pictures. She is also a qualified yoga teacher and teaches at the Balmain Iyengar Yoga Studio.


Jacqui Fingleton

As Jessie Street’s granddaughter, Jacquelyn Fingleton has Jessie’s spirit running though her blood. She works as a teacher’s aide with special needs children.

With her understanding of the personal strength of ‘Red Jessie’, Jacqui is an enthusiastic member of the Trust. She continues her mother’s contribution to the Trust to ensure that the work of outstanding Australian women are not lost.


Cheryl Heath

Cheryl is an education manager working for an industry superannuation fund that assists Australians to build security for retirement.

She grew up in a working class family and has been inspired by Jessie’s work with Indigenous communities, and the continuing work of the Trust.


Justice Anna Katzmann

Justice Katzmann was appointed to the Federal Court of Australia in October 2009. At the time of her appointment she was a practising Senior Counsel at the Sydney Bar and the President of the NSW Bar Association.

In 2002 was named by the Women Lawyers Association as a ‘woman lawyer of achievement’.


Jeannette McHugh

Jeannette McHugh was in the Federal Parliament from 1983 – 1996, first as the member for Phillip, the seat Jessie stood for in 1949, and then as the member for Grayndler. She was the Minister for Consumer Affairs in the Keating Government. Jeannette is the Chair of the Jessie Street Trust.


Tanya Plibersek MP

Tanya Plibersek is the 
Federal Member for Sydney, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development. She is proud to be a trustee of the JST because Jessie Street achieved so much for Indigenous Australia and for women. Jessie Street lived by and promoted values that are just as important today: equality, peace and reconciliation. Tanya says, “Jessie Street will always be a heroine of mine.”


Peach Robb (nee Emmett)

Peach is Jessie’s Great Granddaughter and has always been incredibly motivated by her work and driven by her values.

She has spent the years since completing her degrees working in the not for profit sector in various forms from Education to Digital Communication. Peach believes that the Jessie Street Trust is a wonderful organisation with masses of potential and looks forward to helping to realise that.


Edna Ross

It was only after working for many years as a researcher, policy analyst and campaign activist in NGOs promoting peace and disarmament, human rights and social justice, that Edna was introduced to Jessie Street. It was 1989, the centenary of Jessie’s birth, and the Jessie Street Trust was established to raise community awareness and commemorate the work of this formidable, but little recognised, Australian. Jessie Street embraced and fought for the social values dear to Edna’s heart – justice, equality, women’s rights, indigenous rights and peace. Edna cherishes the opportunity to contribute towards continuing Jessie Street’s work through the Trust. Edna Ross is a psychologist, working as a life coach and university teacher.


Sir Laurence Street AC

The Son of Jessie and Kenneth Street, Laurence Street became a barrister at the New South Wales Bar in 1951, a Judge of the New South Wales Supreme Court in 1965, and the state’s second-youngest Chief Justice in 1972. He was the third Chief Justice in three generations of the Street family. Since retiring, Laurence has worked as a commercial mediator and an alternative dispute resolution consultant.


Sarah Street

Sarah Street, BA LLB, is the granddaughter of Jessie Street. Sarah Street is herself a Sydney University educated lawyer working as a career advisor and executive recruiter in Legal, Health & Higher Education as she has done for the last 20 years. Sarah is married with four adult university educated children, who, like Sarah, continue to be inspired by Jessie’s selfless commitment and enduring legacy to basic human rights.


Victoria Young

Victoria developed a strong interest in law and social justice while studying for her Bachelor of Arts/Laws at UNSW. She has worked in education and on the federal eHealth strategy, seeking out roles with the opportunity to make a meaningful social impact. She is particularly inspired by Jessie’s ground-breaking contributions to the development of international law and her advocacy on behalf of Indigenous communities for constitutional reform.
Victoria is the Treasurer of the Jessie Street Trust.

The Foundation Trustees were Mavis Robertson AM (Chair,) Eve Higson, Heather Radi, Juliet Cobb, and Sir Laurence Street AC.

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