Coleen Clare – Chair
When people ask me when I became a feminist I answer at about the age of 4! I grew up in a very sexist home, schools, and local environment. From this very young age I knew it was wrong that I had to wait on my two brothers and my father, that I could not ride my bike outside the gate but they could, that they could eat ice cream to ‘build muscle’ but I couldn’t because I would get ‘fat’! Etc.! Etc.! It was the same at my school – so nothing else for it – I became a rebel known for my ability, still in evidence today, to ‘talk-back’! It was many decades later before I knew this was the roots of the radical feminism I cherish today.
I have devoted a large portion of my life to bringing up four children with feminist values, and now work to similarly influence my 10 grand-children, and 3 great-grand-children. At the same time I was a member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby in Canberra, and later and currently in Matrix Guild in Victoria.
My career has been devoted to the welfare of girls, women and their families. I have been a teacher, psychologist, community leader, advocate, CEO and manager; working for decades in child development, stopping violence against women, work and family balance, adoption support services, foster care and residential services, and within the disability sector. Currently I volunteer for the Office of the Public Advocate in mental health facilities.
I have worked in New Zealand, Western Samoa, Australia and the Maldives. I have worked with Aboriginal colleagues and families and I deeply respect Aboriginal sovereignty and have a strong commitment to First Nation’s peoples and all diverse cultures and lifestyles.I became a lesbian in 1980 and have worked for radical feminist lesbian causes for 40 years now. It is an honour to continue this work with my colleagues and members in Matrix Guild
Mobile: 0411 696 601
Loretta Smith – Deputy Chair
Loretta Smith has been a member of the Matrix committee since 2018. As a woman with a physical disability, she is particularly sensitive to the needs of older lesbians dealing with the myriad of physical and mental needs of older women with disabilities and the physical/mental changes we may be challenged with as we age. Her working background has included managing programs for people with disabilities, case managing packages of care for aged clients in the community, and supporting voluntary carers of people who are aged, have a disability or mental illness. She is also an advocate for wildlife and the environment and tries to be active rather than despair about climate change.
Loretta has recently embarked on a new ‘career’ in writing, having her first commercial book, ‘A Spanner in the Works: The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia’s first all-girl garage’ published in March 2019. She is currently working on a memoir about living in a body affected by Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
Liz Smith – Secretary
Liz Smith has been a radical lesbian feminist activism for over twenty-five years. She believes lesbians have a unique perspective and culture that needs protection. She joined the Matrix Guild Committee to help organize club events. She brings creativity and planning skills to the committee.
Mobile: 0421 236 895
Pat Mitchell – Treasurer
Pat was formerly a website designer and computer support staff member at La Trobe University IT Division and earlier in the Finance Division as an accountant, following many years of accounting in the private sector. Pat has been hearing-impaired for most of her life and in 2014 received her first cochlear implant and her second implant (bionic ear) in February 2016. She still creates and designs websites and spends a lot of time on her computers (3). She now has the support of her official Lions Hearing Assistance dog, Lulu, who travels everywhere with Pat.
Mobile: 0409 901 043
Chris Sitka – General Committee member
Chris Sitka has been a lesbian feminist activist since the early 1970s when she simultaneously joined Gay Liberation and Women’s Liberation. As a member of numerous groups fighting for lesbian rights over the decades, she has built up deep knowledge and understanding of the struggles and discriminations lesbians of her generation faced, and continue to suffer from. She joined Matrix to continue advocating for the interests of older lesbians. She has been a prolific writer and spoken at numerous conferences, forums, workshops, and consultations on lesbian issues.
Robin Gregory – General Committee member
Robin has been a lesbian feminist since the early 80’s and has been an activist in many areas including initiating the first Lesbian Festival in Melbourne in 1990. She has worked as a social worker, counsellor, and manager in areas of family violence and aged services. Robin now works at Women’s Health In the North in a communications role. Robin is also passionate about writing and is working on her second crime novel featuring a lesbian Private Investigator.
Penny Anngo – General Committee member
I have been a feminist from a young age, but not a radical lesbian feminist until I was a lot older. It wasn’t until I understood that the frustration and sense of injustice I felt as a child was not about me personally, but about being born female in this world that my radical lesbian feminism evolved. I hope that as a new Matrix committee member I will be able to contribute to strengthening the powerful voice for older Lesbians. This photo of me, which I suggested as a backdrop because it speaks to my radical lesbian feminist politics, was taken by Liz (Matrix Secretary) in the meeting room at Women’s Health in the North (WHIN).
Michelle Intveld – General Committee member
Michelle was drawn to the work of Matrix Guild by a desire to contribute to the welfare of lesbians. She is a proud lesbian and has been a feminist since, as a young child, she was disturbed by the inequality between herself and her brothers. Many times, being told that she couldn’t do the same activities as they did because girls weren’t allowed to. She has supported women’s causes by attending events, marches, and rallies.
Michelle has a 25-year history working in the non-profit sector. Her primary experience includes fundraising in organisations dealing with preventative health, mental health and community welfare. As a lesbian woman she is focused on ensuring that her rights and all women’s rights are not compromised as they age and that a voice is given to the needs of older lesbians in the community. She is particularly interested in maintaining a community for ageing lesbians. She is aware that as we age our world shrinks and feels that Matrix Guild holds a vital role in keeping a strong lesbian community thriving for its members.
Michelle enjoys cooking, reading, spending (perhaps too much) time on her iPad! She shares her home with her partner and two cats. She also loves to travel but, of course, that will all be virtual for the near future.
Charmaine S. – General Committee member
Charmaine has been a lesbian feminist most of her life. What began as socialising with like-minded lesbians who supported the women’s movement in Perth, her urge to find others like her, took her to Canada in her early 20’s. Here she met and belonged to a group of black lesbian feminists, who advocated for women of colour within the feminist dialogue. Charmaine was able to witness the operations of black lesbian separatists and their call to duty for many women oppressed by way of race. Acknowledging the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality Charmaine was fortunate to attend various events and rallies coordinated to voice these challenges.
Charmaine now lives in Melbourne and works as a teacher in a disadvantaged school. She focuses on improving the lives of all students, but has worked closely with Koorie students enhancing their schooling experience.
In joining Matrix Guild, Charmaine reflected on her core values, that it is integral to build and support a local community for lesbians over 40 to thrive in through a sense of connectedness, community and compassion. She would like to see membership increase, and believes the Matrix Guild is the perfect organisation to foster a collective sense of belonging for all Victorian lesbians.
In her spare time, Charmaine likes to cook and spend time in her garden. A love of travelling, she enjoys exploring new places, hiking and snorkelling. Her favourite dish to cook is a curry, being from Goa, India. Charmaine has been enjoying resurrecting some of her grandmothers traditional Goan recipes. Her partner enjoys her cooking as much as she does, and she is joined by a newly arrived mother and son cat.
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