Ira Effrett O.A.M. – Location, Ballarat New Cemetery, Section – Fountain Gardens, Grave 35.
Born on the 15th March, 1950, in Horsham, Victoria, to parents who arrived in Australia in 1949 as displaced persons from the Ukraine and Estonia, Ira was regarded as the first “migrant baby” to be born at the Wimmera Base Hospital. Ira attended as a pupil Horsham 298 State School, learning English for the first time, being fluent in Estonian and German as the home languages. The diligent student later taught her parents her new English language and later became a Head Prefect at Horsham High School.
After completing her secondary studies, Ira attended Ballarat Teacher Training College in 1968, receiving her primary teaching certificate the following year. Her first teaching appointment followed in 1970 at the Nhill Primary School. Following the birth of two sons, Ira took up a position in 1982 with the Cooinda Day Training Centre in Nhill as a teacher and specialist assistant in the disability field.
In 1986, Ira, together with her husband and two sons moved to Ballarat and she was appointed Deputy Director of McCallum House, later becoming Director of the Organisation. She quickly became devoted to many clients and staff working within the organisation, including the mother of three adult individuals with disability who formed a close bond with Ira. Following the death of their mother, Ira arranged for one family member to reside in residential care and organised home and welfare support services for the other two family members to remain in the family home. Ira supported the two family members for over 20 years as they remained independent in the family home before also being placed in residential care.
In 1996, Ira left McCallum House to join the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria as a Client Services and Program Officer, a position which she held until she resigned for health reasons in 2009. During this time she provided client services on behalf of the Foundation to clients throughout the Central Highlands, Mallee and Wimmera regions.
In 2001, Ira was included in the 2001 Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives book produced by the Victorian Women’s Trust to celebrate the Centenary of Federation and the importance that women had played to Victorian community life over the past century. In 2009, Ira was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (O.A.M.) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to disability and to the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.
Unfortunately in September, 2010, Ira’s illness required a liver transplant however she passed away on the 13th October, 2011, at the Heidelberg Austin Hospital and is buried in the Ballarat New Cemetery.