Mandurah woman inducted into WA Hall of Fame


Pam Halbert says confidence is the greatest skill we can learn. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au   d450201
Pam Halbert says confidence is the greatest skill we can learn. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au d450201

She was one of 16 WA women, six posthumously, to be honoured at the induction ceremony attended by Governor Kerry Sanderson and Deputy Premier Liza Harvey.

Ms Halbert said the most important skill to learn was confidence.

“Confidence is something we are able to use to bring out the courage to do things,” she said.

“We have to know ourselves, trust ourselves.

“I ask myself the question: ‘Do I still want this poor situation to continue?’. Then I look for the choices. There are always choices.”

A former parish priest, Ms Halbert is not only a member of a pioneering family – her great-great-grandfather emigrated from Scotland to NSW in 1836 – but also a pioneer of the Anglican Church and the author of a recently published book, Desert Deacon.

Four years ago, she heard a young Lebanese woman interviewed on the ABC.

The woman was anxious that her father was forcing her to marry a man she did not love nor had ever spoken to and wondered why it could happen in Australia.

Her story jolted Ms Halbert, who had suffered the same fate years earlier, into writing her story to encourage young women and their fathers to value their daughters and not, through male control, damage their self-value and potential for life.

Ms Halbert said she was not overly religious but had great faith.

She always prayed for help with what life threw at her and the wisdom to make the right choice.

And life has certainly thrown plenty her way. At 17, she applied to take a nursing course at Sydney Hospital, arriving to find her controlling father had cancelled her admission.

Her mother died when Ms Halbert was just 10.

“That was the steepest learning curve of my life when I realised I would have to look after myself,’’ she said.

Ms Halbert’s father forced her into marriage with her first husband and the father of her three daughters.

The marriage lasted 10 years.

Her second – but this time happy – marriage, to Alex Halbert, also lasted 10 years before he died of cancer in 1985.

Ms Halbert was ordained a deacon in 1988.

Her first parish was at Bull Creek, but she dreamed of working in the Goldfields and three years at Leinster followed, where she ran counselling services and travelled deep underground, which she described as “an amazing experience”.

She returned to Perth and spent five years as a priest at Willagee.

At one point she ran her own interior decorating business, spending three years refurbishing the Swan Brewery, and was given an open cheque to gut and redecorate the Bishop’s House for Archbishop Carnley.

Between 1997 and 2004, she was the parish priest at Pinjarra, a job she loved.

Various shifts followed, including Dawesville and Wannanup.

It has been 11 years since Ms Halbert retired, but she still officiates at funerals and provides spiritual guidance to those who ask for it.

In her later years, she has also run twice-monthly services at Meadow Springs RAAFA, served as president of the Mandurah branch of Save the Children, on the council of Frederick Irwin Anglican School and a member of Peel Zonta Club.