​Phillippa Dimakis OAM (Etherton)

1956 Collegian

Phillippa Dimakis OAM (Etherton): second from left

I grew up in the Wheatbelt and was a boarder at MLC from 1951 to '56, after which I attended Claremont Teachers' College. I taught in primary schools in Roebourne and White Gum Valley until 1963, and then taught English to migrants.

I was working for the Australian Government as a ship-board education officer, teaching English to migrants coming to Australia. On my second trip I met my husband, Yannis. That was 1968 and we got married in Perth in 1969 and settled in Sydney.

Yannis left the sea and came to Australia but he missed it. We split up, he went back to Greece, and we got a divorce which was very sad. I still think he is one of the nicest men I've ever met, probably the nicest.

I started working for the Adult Migrant English Service as a private teacher. Then I got promoted to be the head teacher, followed by supervisor of all the intensive courses in Sydney. I kept that job until I had my daughter, Zoe, and found I couldn't do it.

I took a demotion and went back into an English Teaching Centre as a principal, doing a little bit of teaching, but not a lot, because that was academic hours and academic holidays. With a small child and as a single mother, it was perfect. Then I went to three centres until I retired at the end of '95. For a long time I never wanted any other job, I loved it.

I was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1999. My ex-colleagues decided that I should have one so it was a terrific surprise. The citation says it was for services to Education, particularly Adult Migrant Education. I still don't know why it was me but I won't knock it back.

I've always been a bit of a feminist and in 2002 I was asked to join the management board of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, I have been a member of the management board for 11 years, and am currently the chair.

On MLC: I was up in the attic with Dorothy Erikson, the two of us in a small attic room, and there was a window that opened up onto the roof, and I used to sit with my legs dangling on the roof and smoke. I remember looking out of that window early in the morning, looking at the water when there was no wind – it look like a polished surface. The river was surrounded by the banks of the river, and they were still dark because the sun had not come up. It was so peaceful, with just the sound of the birds in the background and this blue sky. It was absolutely exquisite.