Featured Unique Character of Gippsland

Lorraine Bartling


This months Unique Character of Gippsland is a humble and devoted member of the Latrobe Valley Community, Lorraine Bartling. Lorraine, even from an early age was always interested and concerned about the community and it’s people. She considers herself lucky to be brought up in a family who helped to guide her and teach her strong values in life. Born in Ellenbank, Lorraine had a happy childhood despite growing up in wartime. Born Lorraine Munday, she grew up in the community’s old school house. The Mundays were held in the highest regard in the local community. Their house was always open to neighbours, the kettle was always on and there was always biscuits in the jar. The family were very community focused, her father being a member of the Ellenbank CFA, her mother a member of the Country Women’s Association and members of other local committees. Her family’s love of community helped to shape Lorraine’s thoughts toward life. The family believed that it wasn’t money and power that were important. People and community came first. It was always more rewarding to give than receive. Lorraine attended the Ellenbank primary school where she found learning a little difficult. She was often chastised for writing left handed and the school had one large classroom that housed all students from prep to year 8. This was both difficult for students and the teacher. At a young age Lorraine knew what she wanted to do. Her Grandmother who would often tell of stories of being a nurse in Tasmania would look after families and new mothers for a small sum of money. Lorraine thought if she worked hard at school she too felt this would be a great way to make life better for people. After working hard and completing school she was accepted into Nursing School at the age of 17. She completed her training at the Warragul Hospital. Lorraine sometimes found this hard as it was hard to tend to patients in her own area seeing illness and death of members of her community was confronting. During her training she spent her time in all areas. She loved working in the operating theatre and the outpatients department would influence her in her later career in the health department, where she discovered that living standards and circumstances effected many patients state of health. After completing her three years of training she was to stay on at Warragul Hospital as a theatre nurse for another year. Lorraine chose to further her nursing career and gain a qualification in midwifery. This required her to move to Moreland in Melbourne and train at the Sacred Heart hospital. In 1961, after a year she completed her training in midwifery. After Sacred Heart, Lorraine nursed in several other areas such as Rosebud Hospital, a small facility in Clunes in the Goldfields near Ballarat, Warrick ,Boonah and Cairns in Queensland (an interstate adventure). Lorraine moved back to Victoria after this and felt she was needing a change of direction in her career. She joined the Melbourne District Nursing Service. She was no longer in a hospital ward but going to patients homes. Lorraine found this very rewarding work, although very hard at times she was able to help patients who have Parkinson’s disease, disabilities caused by a stroke and other ailments. District nursing and her awareness of social issues made Lorraine realise and know that looking into social welfare as a next career step was a natural progression. It was arranged that Lorraine attend an interview at the head office for the State Department of Welfare of Victoria. In being successful she spent a week training at head office and set off at the age of 28 to Bendigo. There she became the Regional Welfare Officer for Northern Victoria. This covered an area from Swan Hill, Echuca and Bendigo. In this position she found that she could help disadvantaged people and families get a better life, help rebellious teenagers and help place babies into adoption. After three years an opportunity arose back in Gippsland. It was a position for a welfare officer jointly between the Traralgon council and the hospital. This position entailed setting up five main areas, counselling, information services, community development and social planning, local services co-ordination and community education. During this time Lorraine met her husband Ken Bartling and they married in 1980. Ken also worked at the Traralgon council as the local law officer. Lorraine feels that without Ken’s love and support she wouldn’t have been able to achieve all she has. Ken happily stood by her side and supported her right through to his passing recently in May 2016. Lorraine spent 15 years in this position until 1983. By this time she had developed, aged care services, crisis intervention for times of natural disaster such as floods and fires, family support and strengthening, this included family day car, adolescent and family counselling, adult education. Health including Aboriginal health, cardiac rehabilitation, drink driver education, hospital discharge planning for National Heart Foundation patients housing and crisis accommodation, information services for new residents and visitors to the area, community health planning and also youth employment services, housing and recreation. As a welfare officer, Lorraine made the decision to be on the board of different committees. There are notable committees that are still dear to her heart to this day and she still has involvement in. She was one of the main instigators in setting up the Yallambee Village and Margery Cole, with the help of Apex Traralgon and the Traralgon Council. Lorraine moved on and joined the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind as the Regional Welfare and Rehabilitation officer which saw her travelling all over the Gippsland region. She did this for three years until 1986 when she decided to go down a different path and open a clothing shop (Ondine Boutique) in Traralgon with two other friends. This was a different way she felt she could help. She enjoyed meeting and talking to people and helping to improve women’s self confidence. During this time Lorraine was also elected to Council. She served as a Councillor and Mayor twice with the City of Traralgon for nine years and then with the new amalgamated Latrobe Shire for six years serving as deputy Mayor and Mayor until 2000. As councillor and mayor Lorraine never forgot the community that had elected her, she was always busy attending functions and supporting charity groups, chairing meetings official openings and even the odd planting of symbolic trees. During this busy time Lorraine always accepted the first invitation to any date and felt she couldn’t let anyone down if she received a better offer. In looking back on one particular day she attended five separate engagements. She also finds the developing of links with Taizhou China as a sister city to develop education and economic links a fantastic opportunity and experience. In 1994 during the amalgamation of the Moe, Morwell and Traralgon Shires into Latrobe Shire Lorraine looks back on this time as challenging but felt that working with three shires that had been united not by choice, had to think of the betterment of the community and to leave the town rivalry to the sporting field. The councillors would be challenged at this time with encouraging economic growth and address the issue of unemployment in the area. After her shock retirement in 2000 Lorraine didn’t sit on her laurels. Lorraine focused on organisations such as Gippsland Water, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Traralgon CBD Committee, Lifeline and Quantum Support Services an organisation focusing on the needs of homeless people and services for people in need. In conclusion to this beautiful story, with all this work there has to be some recognition for all this work. Even though Lorraine has not done all this work for recognition, she has been recognised for her tireless work for her community. Some of the accolades include:- Latrobe Citizen of the year 1993 – Recognition for more than 30 years of devotion and improvement to the community. Centenary Medal 2001 – This award was created by the Australian Government to commemorate a century of Federation. Lorraine was awarded this medal for services to the community through local government. Order of Australia medal (OAM) – For services to the community of Latrobe through a range of organisations in the area of local government, health and aged care. The OAM is the main way that services to the community is recognised. Nominations are put forward from members of the community. Rotary Honour 2010 – Morwell Rotary Club. While speaking to Lorraine my profound understanding of Lorraine’s philosophy on life is “It doesn’t matter if you are not the cleverest person, as long as you make goals and work to achieve them you are successful”. Lorraine always talked to young school children about having goals. She looks back fondly at talking to school children during her time as Mayor and one particular child telling her mother she met the Queen. The biggest honor was members of the community wanting to write a book on her life and achievements. Lorraine took some convincing, about two years to do this, she agreed when she knew that all proceeds would go in trust at Latrobe City for social workers and trained nurses to further their education. Lorraine still carries on her work for our community today. I am sure you will agree that her life’s work can be looked upon as amazing, awe inspiring and exhausting. We can take a page from her book literally and look into how we can make our community a better place or even improve the lives of other people. A lesson that it is better to give than receive. If you want to read Lorraine’s book, you have a chance to win a signed copy on Lorraines book by submitting the token below either to facebook, production@gippslander. com.au or mail it to 185 Franklin Street, Traralgon 3844 by Friday 26 May. Or you can visit to buy you copy today.