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Deveson, Anne Barbara (1930–2016)

by Michael Idato

from Sydney Morning Herald

Anne Deveson, by Andrew Long, 1997

Anne Deveson, by Andrew Long, 1997

National Library of Australia, 24669511

Broadcaster, writer, filmmaker and social commentator Anne Deveson has died. She was 86.

Her daughter and carer, novelist Georgia Blain, died on Friday, aged 51, from brain cancer.​

Deveson's long career in the creative industry included stints as the chairman of the South Australian Film Corporation and director of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014.

In 2015, speaking to Good Weekend magazine, she spoke of "facing up to all the horrors that may or may not lie ahead".

"I just had a complete meltdown which was building up and I was trying to be gung-ho and jolly hockeysticks and increasingly failing," she said.

Deveson had already lost her mother, grandmother and one of her mother's maternal aunts to the disease.

Deveson also sat on the Royal Commission on Human Relationships between 1974 and 1977.

That Royal Commission was instrumental in the legalisation of homosexuality, the decriminalisation of abortion and the establishment of women's refuges.

"Our laws and practices had not kept pace with changes in people's lives," she told The Australian in 2013.

Deveson was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, in 1930; she and her family moved to Western Australia during World War II.

Among her most curious biographical notes is the fact that she appeared in an ad for the detergent Omo in the 1960s.

"The serious journalists thought I had lost my integrity," she later told journalist Jill Rowbotham. "I didn't feel that. In terms of making ends meet it was a very good thing to have done."

She later married the broadcaster Ellis Blain, who died in 1979; the couple had a daughter, Georgia.

Georgia Blain, a novelist whose most recent work Between A Wolf And A Dog won the Queensland Literary Award last month, passed away at home on Friday, just days before her 52nd birthday, her publisher has confirmed.

The novel, written before Blain learned of her diagnosis, features a central character who reveals she has cancer that has spread to her brain.

"I have a partner and a daughter. I want to hang on to every chance I have to get myself a little bit more time," Blain told Fairfax in March.

Deveson also had a son, Jonathan, who developed schizophrenia and died of a drug overdose; Deveson wrote a memoir about the experience, Tell Me I'm Here, and later a film, Spinning Out.

She also helped to establish the national body Schizophrenia Australia.

Anne Deveson was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1983 for services to the media.

She was elevated to the rank of Officer of the Order of Australia in 1993 for her work in community health.

Original publication

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 13 December 2016

Other Obituaries for Anne Barbara Deveson

Additional Resources

Citation details

Michael Idato, 'Deveson, Anne Barbara (1930–2016)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/deveson-anne-barbara-27606/text35004, accessed 26 March 2019.

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