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Hardman, Donald (Don) (1933–2020)

by Judy Sedger and Peter Scardoni

Don Hardman, by Bob Cooper, n.d.

Don Hardman, by Bob Cooper, n.d.

ANU Archives, ANUA 226-842

Donald Hardman passed peacefully at Goodwin House, Ainslie on 28 October 2020. He specifically requested no funeral and no wake and wanted to give his body to the ANU for medical research, but in the year of Covid that was not possible.

Don Hardman was born on 17 July, 1933 in Little Lever, Lancashire, England. The eldest son of Carrie and Robert, with one sister and one brother. His father was a butcher. He did well at school and sports and got a scholarship to study at Bolten Public School. Some of his athletic records remained unbroken and could still be seen on the wall of the Sports Hall in 1975. He married Johanna van den Bergh in 1956 and had daughters Judy (1960) and Wendy (1962) and son David (1967). He started his career as a medical technologist in hospitals in Lancashire, from 1951 to 1954. In 1954–56 he was in National Service in charge of blood transfusions, but spent most of his time training for athletics to represent the Army. He narrowly missed out on a spot in the English team for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. From 1956 to 1957, he was a medical technologist in London hospitals. In 1957 he was awarded an Associateship of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences (BSc equivalent).

From 1957 to 1964 he was a Science Experimental Officer at the Institute of Animal Physiology, Cambridge. In 1964 he was awarded a fellowship of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences (MSc equivalent). His thesis was titled ‘A comparative study of the albumin/globulin ratios’. In 1964 the family moved to Canberra. He was offered the position of Head Technical Officer at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at The Australian National University. In 1967 he was appointed Business and Technical Manager, Research School of Biological Sciences, ANU. In 1974 he completed a BA(Admin) at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now the University of Canberra).

In 1981 he was seconded to Central Administration at ANU to review purchasing and stores policy. Following interaction with the Department of Administrative Services and discussion with users, he proposed the integration of purchasing activities. This was accepted and integrated. His high-profile involvement with Facilities and Services (previously called Buildings and Grounds) began in 1986. In one decade, he moved from Deputy Head of Building and Grounds to Head of Building and Grounds and finally Director of Facilities and Services. During that period, he made may significant contributions to the ANU, including the concrete traffic control spheres, still affectionately known as ‘Don’s Balls’.

He was the convenor of a Vice-Chancellor’s committee (1982) to investigate the provision of photographic and illustrative services on campus. The report was generated, accepted and implemented. In 1983 he took part in the public service interchange scheme for six months, which was in the Department of Science and Technology. They had the task of reviewing administration and scope of bilateral agreements, particularly in Japan. Again, the recommendations were adopted. He was invited by the Department of Science and Technology to extend for a further six months. He retired from his 30-year career at the ANU in 1996.

His other activities included part-time Lecturer in Biological Sciences at the Canberra Institute of Technology and part-time tutor at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. He was appointed by Sir Hugh Ennor, then Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University, to serve on the Advisory Committee for biology courses conducted by the NSW Department of Technical Education. He continued to serve in this capacity until 1978, when he was invited to be a member of the Advisory Committee for Biology and Pathology Technician’s course at the Bruce TAFE. He was subsequently elected chairman of that committee.

In 1970 he was invited by Hitachi Ltd in Japan to inspect electron microscopes and other scientific equipment. He made other oversees visits. He was invited by the British Department of Trade and Industry in 1972 to discuss the latest developments in the field with senior management. In 1973, with another ANU representative, he visited Japan, the United States, England, and Holland. Visits were made to scientific equipment manufacturers, and discussions were held with design engineers and application scientists. The purpose of the visit was to evaluate current developments in electron microscopy and to examine other new equipment trends. In 1975 he revisited major confirming and supply houses in the UK under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry. Germany and Holland were also visited. In 1980 he visited North America to evaluate software for stores and purchasing systems, and attended the Financial Systems Software Conference in New Orleans. Visits were also made to users of systems in Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

He was a member the supervisory committee of the ANU University Credit Society. Then in 1983 was appointed Director of the Credit Society. In that year he was also elected President of the Administrative and Allied Officers Association. Variously, he was Chairman of the Canberra Olympic Gymnastics Committee, becoming its President. He qualified as a National Judge of Men’s Gymnastics and was a member of the organising committee Pacific Alliance Championships involving gymnasts, coaches and officials from USA, Canada, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. In 1983 he was competition Director of the Australian Men’s Championships then the Senior National Championships. He maintained his great interest in sport. His ensured his children continued this interest.

In his personal life he enjoyed a coast house at South Durras and family overseas trips. He also got a lot of pleasure out of his involvement in the University of the Third Age. He joined the jazz appreciation group and continued weekly meetings until he moved into the nursing home. He always encouraged his children to do their best, seek education for the sake of learning, be good community members, to contribute and be honest.

At work he was known as Don Hardman, a hard man but always fair.

Citation details

Judy Sedger and Peter Scardoni, 'Hardman, Donald (Don) (1933–2020)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 August 2022.

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