Nancy Rehfeldt AM passed away on Saturday 2nd March, aged 94. She was a pioneer in the struggle for women’s rights and for children at risk. She worked at, what was in the day, the hard end of this fight.
Nancy sought to provide support for victims of incest. She founded the group Incest Survivors Association, now Phoenix Support and Advocacy Service. In 1978, Women’s Health Care House and Australian Women Against Rape (Perth) conducted a 24 hour phone in to give women who had been sexually assaulted an opportunity to discuss their experiences. More than half the callers spoke of intra-familial sexual abuse. Many had been silenced and not supported by their families. Depression and mental health challenges resulted.
Group and individual counselling began under the auspices of ISA, formalised in 1984. In 1986, State Government funding was achieved and an association with the WA Department for Child Protection resulted. Thousands of women and children have been helped by ISA’s employed professionals.
Nancy’s pioneering was recognised in 1986 when she was appointed a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia. She was a tireless worker for her cause. She also pursued broader social justice issues and causes all her life. I recollect when I was Member for Swan being very aware of her vigorous stances and an admirer of her commitment.
She was the loved wife of Gunther (dec), mother of Linda and Liz. Deepest sympathy to her family, which included grandchildren Elliot and Adam, and extended nephews and nieces. All and her good friends should be in our thoughts.
The passing of another West Australian, a pioneer in her field.
The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia