‘Voice of healing’ dies

The Ballarat community is mourning “the voice of healing” for sexual abuse victims – Robyn Mason – who died last week aged 65.

A Labor party stalwart, Dr Mason spent her life fighting for others and was a strong feminist who worked against sexual assault and violence against women.  She also worked extensively in social work in rural areas.

Ballarat MP Catherine King hailed Dr Mason as one of the most courageous women she knew.

“Robyn was a woman of great courage and sensitivity,” Ms King said.

“She was a wonderful mentor to many women with an outstanding commitment to social justice for all. I will miss her greatly as I know will all those who knew her well.”

One of Dr Mason’s key contributions was made at the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, where she assisted sexual assault survivors to have a voice in the community to facilitate healing. 

Her time there resulted in the introduction of a 24-hour crisis care service for victims of sexual assault. She also taught and researched for the University of Ballarat (now Federation University), the University of Melbourne, Monash University and Charles Sturt University.

Monash University colleague Deborah Western remembered Dr Mason as a creative thinker who came up with ideas that would change situations.

She said Dr Mason tried to make her research as practical for communities as possible.

“Robyn invited the community in so she could research with them, and not for them,” Dr Western said.

“She didn’t see herself as an expert, she put herself on their level as a partner and helped people achieve great things. She was a strong, unapologetic feminist and very committed to human rights, and this was underpinned by a genuine interest in people.”

Much of her research focused on the profession of social work and how it could best be performed and particularly dealt with rural women’s support services. Monash University honoured Dr Mason earlier this year with the opening of the Robyn Mason Library, which is filled with the books she donated to the institution. 

Dr Mason also unsuccessfully contested the seat of Ballarat West in the 1996 Victorian election.

Her funeral will be at Friday 10am at the Doveton Park Funeral Centre.

STALWART: Robyn Mason with former Premier John Brumby and former Member for Ballarat South Frank Sheehan on the campaign trail in the 1990s.

STALWART: Robyn Mason with former Premier John Brumby and former Member for Ballarat South Frank Sheehan on the campaign trail in the 1990s.