‘Inspirational motivator’ posthumously honoured.
THE Zonta Club of Ballarat was in Donna Campbell’s blood.
When the female-only service group was chartered in 1978, board director Val Sarah said Ms Campbell’s membership, and family impact, was not far behind. “Donna joined in 1979 and served on several committees during her first period with the club, principally on the Status of Women and Service Committees, which is where her interests lay,” Ms Sarah said. Mary Campbell, her mother, served as club president from 1984 to 1986. In 1989, Ms Campbell began her first term as president until 1991, and shortly after, became Area Director for Zonta clubs to the north and west of Melbourne. “Donna’s second term as president was from 2013 to 2016, and she was again serving as president in 2019 when she suffered a recurrence of cancer,” Ms Sarah said.
In December 2019, Ms Campbell died, deeply valued and loved by the Ballarat and broader Zontians for her life-long commitment to education and care for others.
For her membership to this community and more, she has been posthumously honoured as one of the Zonta Club of Ballarat’s Great Women for 2020. Ms Campbell always said her passion was in “welfare for all, but particularly young children and women,” and this is evident in her career of work. A Dame of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, Ms Campbell explained some of her personal history, most notable achievements and interests in a profile she once wrote for herself. “I was born in Yarram, Victoria, the eldest of four children, moving to Ballarat as a young child,” she said. “I attended Caledonian Primary School and Ballarat Clarendon College, and obtained my primary education degree at Ballarat University.” It was at this point, she fused her profession with what she called her “central core;” music. A multi-instrumentalist and singer, Ms Campbell was granted study leave for a Graduate Diploma in Music Education. “I received an education fellowship, a teacher exchange, which allowed me to teach in Toronto, Canada for 18 months,” she said.
Linking up with Zontians of the Zonta Club of Toronto 1, they adopted her as one of their own and she continued “empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.” With music as her creative outlet, Ms Campbell conducted children’s choirs, performed in the Keith Young Chorale and as a solo artist, played the organ for the Brown Hill Methodist Church and launched musical programs for children with disabilities. As she followed her major educational career path, she noted plenty of highlights. “I was a latch key teacher in a large multicultural city school, a consultant to schools in Music Arts – Central Highlands/Wimmera Region, a welfare coordinator for staff and students and an organiser of seminars for women in the teaching service,” Ms Campbell said.
The Ballarat educational representative on the state committee for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, she was also a physical education lecturer and tutor at Federation University. “I had many senior teaching roles including head teacher at a rural school and acting vice-principal in a large city school. I also started the breakfast club at Mount Clear Primary School and [acted] as the coordinator,” she said. “I served on the advisory council at BTV 6 looking at the content and effect of children’s programs.” Regardless of the many constant but meaningful projects, Ms Sarah said Ms Campbell always had a social presence and was easy-going.
“She had a zest for life and a strong moral compass. She was an inspirational leader who motivated others to be the best that they could be,” Ms Sarah said.
Thank you to Edwina Williams for these words.
Dame Donna Campbell is buried in the Ballarat New Cemetery Highview Gardens Row 22 Grave 45