Member Julia Fraser has had the most diverse career imaginable, and it’s not over yet. It’s covered everything from overseeing a party for nearly 750,000 Melburnians to bring in the new Millennium, to high-level roles building collaborations in mental health with our northern neighbours.
Julia’s mother Milly Symons was a wardrobe mistress for Channel 7, much like our co-member Linda Rowe. Her father, Arthur was a socialist, engineer, Mason, Synagogue-attender and intellectual while his own grandfather David Hyman was one of the first secretaries of the Trades Hall Council and an agitator for the Eight Hour Day. 
Our member grew up in Elwood and studied English, History and Middle Eastern Studies at Melbourne University. “I had great professors, like Ron Ridley and Greg Denning (history), Donald Broadribb (Asian studies) and Chris Wallace-Crabb (English). They influenced my whole life and taught me the importance of understanding cultural difference.”
She’d forgotten that the price of her studentship was three years teaching. But the upside was that she met and was hooked on smart spunky Paul Fraser in the Dip Ed cohort, whom she eventually inveigled to the altar.
Her first teaching job was at Fitzroy High, which was split in turmoil because teacher Helen Garner had just got sacked for giving some explicit sex education to the myriad of Greek girls there - often promised-brides to strangers. For five years afterwards, the staffroom vibe was still pretty frosty when the pro-and-anti Garner factions collided.
Julia and colleague Denise Logan wound up writing a series of Macmillan texts for their Greek and Italian students on how their countries’ histories had led to them becoming migrants. There were touchy topics including the Greek communist insurrection at war’s end. 
Authorships led Julia to curriculum writing. She raised offspring Natalie and Joel while Paul worked at CSL, renovated the house and completed his Master’s Degree. (We hope he bought some CSL shares, they’ve rise about 300-fold since listing).
Julia resumed teaching at Maribyrnong High, with sidelines like helping start and run a 
not-for-profit to help struggling Vietnamese students. She also helped organise Joan Kirner’s “State schools are Great Schools” campaign, and wrote some of the new VCE English curriculum.
Founding Asialink
Continuing her variegated career, she was a consultant for the Commission for the Future evaluating environmental curriculum texts. Then she joined Jenny McGregor to help establish the Asialink Centre at the University of Melbourne in 1991, which is still going strong. 
She wrote five books for upper-primary kids on China, India, Korea, Japan and Indonesia. This led to work on the Asian leg of the three cross-curricula priorities adopted nationally in 2008. “As a national manager, this included forming collaborations with thousands of teachers, schools, States and systems to deliver the program. Coordinating was bloody hard work because various States wanted to play the game only with their own rules,” she says. “The success came because we recruited allies who were as keen as we were. We had a fabulous time, including co-running a big education conference in Suharto’s Jakarta and then going out all over the Indonesian archipelago on site-visits.” 
Skipping over her work in film production, we find Julia next as a chief organiser of the City of Melbourne’s Millennium celebrations. “I put together a story board of projects for the City to choose, and they said, ‘We’ll do all of them’.” 
The city was festooned with messages from 100 of Melbourne’s notable personalities, and a party on the banks of the Yarra hosted 750,000 of Melbourne’s citizens and visitors. She organised Olympic torch celebrations, festive trams and kids’, seniors’ and different cultures’ festivals. She also liaised with the Millennium Institute in Washington DC to create The Generous Melbourne Campaign. 
Waiving City politics
Tiring of City politics, she spent a year writing content for Our Community and then in 2002 returned to MU’s Asialink to head its Leadership Program building Asia knowledge and skills for Australian leaders across all sectors.
“The Asialink work was the pride of my life,” she says. With the support of Asialink chairmen Carrillo Gantner and Sid Myer, she established Asia Australia Mental Health as a consortium of the Psych Department at MU, St. Vincent’s Mental Health and Asialink. 
In 2004, the consortium started work with China to help build its public mental health system. “Around China today, if you look at mental health services, you will see some origins in our Melbourne Project,” she says. “We worked with young psychiatrists from here and in the region setting up mental health services for children affected by disasters. Some disasters like the Sichuan earthquakes were so bad that even the service delivery workers were getting PTSD.” Julia visited the earthquake region with four mental-health colleagues only two months after the crisis in 2008 to deliver training in disaster mental health. They were the first and only such foreign group allowed in at those early stages. With co-director Professor Chee Ng, the Melbourne consortium ended up working with 18 Asia Pacific nations. Below: Paul Fraser, Julia and Rosa on park gambol
On the home front
On Julia’s home front, daughter Natalie is a mother-baby psychiatric specialist and also tutoring for MU’s medical school and in Masters of psychiatry courses. Son Joel is a group manager global engineering company UGL.
Natalie and her daughter Rosa are living with the Frasers in Republic Tower, with Julia and Paul doing major grandparenting work. A tiger for work, Julia also runs the Tower’s book club and helps create a community there. She grew up studying ballet and dance and although she is mostly out of tutus these days, she gets to several dance classes weekly on-line, lately with the Sydney Dance Company. She sings (badly, she says) with a Brunswick choir and runs English-language classes on-line for 12-15 bright new Australian migrants – engineers, film producers, caterers from across the globe. She’s even involved with making a film about the group.
On Bearbrass, she’s impressed by our on-line capabilities but concerned for those other seniors who want and need physical socialising and who are a bit fearful of trying online meetings. She’s also keen to see Bearbrass with more diverse-origin members, and cites sponsor Rotary Central Melbourne as an example of a well-mixed club. “We need to reach out to other communities and bring them in,” she says.#