The University of Newcastle, Australia

A Lifetime of Community Service Continues

Thursday, 1 March 2018

The extraordinary life of Janet Copley is celebrated through a generous gift to support women’s education, community engagement and social issues.

Janet Copley and others on International Women's Day
Image: Barbara Shetter, Josie Gacourt, Janet Copley, May Cant, Gladys Armstrong and an unknown woman, 1964 International Women’s Day Peace Rally, Newcastle. Photo by Barbara Curthoys. Courtesy of International Women’s Day Celebrations 1944-2011 Compiled by Jude Conway, University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections

The Janet Copley Bequest will fund undergraduate and doctoral scholarships and provide seed funding for early- and mid-career researchers across the Humanities and Social Science disciplines to access the University’s historical archival and visual collections.

Supporting women and social science research

Janet Copley was a great supporter of these fields of study. She particularly wanted to support women to study; and help emerging researchers establish their own trajectory by funding projects relating to the community using local archival collections.

“Janet understood that studying can be expensive and challenging, and sometimes some extra support can make all the difference. As students and academics, women often need to balance competing demands of family life, carer responsibilities, gaps in career and study opportunity, as well as other barriers to success.

"It is a privilege to be able to honour Janet’s wishes. These funds will help many students and social science researchers investigating themes Janet was passionate about, such as history, youth and labour, gender and community” - Professor Catharine Coleborne, Head of School and Dean of Arts in the School of Humanities and Social Science

Fighting for a better future

Long-time friend and Secretary of the Union of Australian Women, Lynda Forbes, honoured Janet’s unstinting commitment to the Newcastle community at her memorial service in 2017. Describing Janet and other members of the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association Regional Council, Lynda said: “No-one could count the number of letters they have written, placards they have painted and miles they have marched in the hope of achieving a better, fairer and safer future for all.”

Fleeting moments captured forever

Janet Copley and her late husband Mervyn were avid historians and donated their large collection of news clippings, election leaflets and personal diaries to the University of Newcastle. The Merv and Janet Copley collection contains material that captures many important moments in our local political and social history.

Have a confidential discussion regarding a gift in your will

Contact Maria Pavela, Development Manager, Bequests on +61 2 4985 4163  or email

Read more in The Gift newsletter

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