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Why we will miss Quentin Bryce

Dame Quentin Bryce with The Weekly's editor-in-chief Helen McCabe.
The Australian Women's Weekly's editor-in-chief Helen McCabe reflects on why we will miss outgoing Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce.
Dame Quentin Bryce has stepped down as Governor-General after a distinguished six years in office, during which she worked tirelessly to promote women. The first woman to hold this high office proved to be an exceptional role model as she distinguished herself in the sometimes tricky role.
Although her sense of style occasionally overshadowed her public appearances, it was this elegance and grace which also meant she always looked comfortable in the role. Yet it was not only her spearmint-coloured suits or perfectly matched hats that set her apart from her predecessors.
Dame Quentin’s genuine passion for women’s issues was also a strong feature of her time in the job, with a particular interest in families, ending domestic violence, supporting indigenous women and promoting more women in all aspects of life.
In 1965, Ms Bryce was one of the first women to be appointed to the Queensland Bar. After that, she was on a trajectory that included many firsts. She was the first director of the Queensland Women’s Information Service and the inaugural Chair and CEO of the National Childcare Accreditation Council.
In 1988, under the Hawke government, she was appointed Sex Discrimination Commissioner. In 1997, she began as Principal of The Women’s College at the University of Sydney.
Long before she was elevated to the office of Governor-General, Ms Bryce was acknowledged for her contribution to advancing the rights of women and children, as an Officer of the Order of Australia.
Her time in the top job was not without the occasional controversy. None more so than in one of a series of Boyer lectures she presented, during which she made a contentious remark about the prospect of Australia one day becoming a republic.
In another lecture in that series, she highlighted the disgraceful prevalence of domestic violence in this country. Dame Quentin has had first-hand experience in the field, having worked in a women’s shelter in Brisbane. Privately, she talks about the impact this experience has had on her approach to the role.
Born Quentin Alice Louise Strahan in 1942, this outstanding Australian was raised in the little-known town of Ilfracombe in Queensland. She married Michael Bryce in 1964 and the couple have two daughters and three sons. Both are devoted grandparents to their 10 grandchildren.
As Dame Quentin prepared to leave office, she held a series of farewell dinners at which women from all walks of life dominated the guest list. The number of women at these events was notable and deliberate as she privately encouraged and promoted women of all ages.
As a life-long reader of The Australian Women’s Weekly, Dame Quentin often also featured in the pages of the magazine. In 2013, she was the guest of honour at an event to announce the magazine’s inaugural winner of a scholarship for young women. Dame Quentin will continue to have a role in this scholarship program after her retirement.
Dame Quention Bryce and Helen McCabe.
Dame Quention Bryce and Helen McCabe.
Dame Quention Bryce and Helen McCabe.
Today, Dame Quentin and her husband were formally farewelled in Canberra before boarding a RAAF flight to their home in Brisbane.

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