Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gill, Eunice Elizabeth Perrott (1918–1987)

by Judith Smart

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Eunice Elizabeth Perrott Gill (1918-1987), sportswoman, administrator, coach and academic, was born on 5 January 1918 at Armadale, Melbourne, second child of Victorian-born parents Alexander Joseph Gill, government dairy supervisor, and his wife Emily Felicia, née Perrott. Educated at St Michael’s Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Eunice studied at the University of Melbourne (BA, 1941; Dip.Phys.Ed., 1945; Dip.Ed., 1957) and became a player of women’s basketball, the name of which was changed to netball in 1970. A member of the State team (1945-46), and captain of the All Australia carnival team (1946 and 1947), she toured New Zealand with the national team in 1948.

In 1949 Gill was appointed acting-lecturer in the university’s department of physical education, becoming temporary lecturer the following year and gaining permanency in 1953. Her teaching interests, which included human movement and sports practice, reflected the influence of Rudolf Laban, whose work in dance analysis and therapy had impressed her during her study leave in Britain in 1952. While formal and `perhaps a little aloof’ (so her students recall), Gill was also encouraging, inspirational and challenging in developing her subject. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 1960 and used study leave in 1972-73 to complete an MA (1973) at the University of Leeds.

Beyond the university Gill had an extensive influence on the development of her sport. Elected president (1954) and honorary secretary-treasurer (1958-60, 1966-68) of the All Australia Women’s Basketball Association, she also coached the Victorian (1954) and Australian (1960) teams and was delegate to three world tournaments (1967, 1970-71, 1979). Through the International Federation of Netball Associations (vice-president 1959-67, 1983-87; senior vice-president 1975-83) she helped to establish an international code for the game in 1960. The previous year she had become a life member of the Victorian association and received a service award from both the AAWBA (1966) and the IFNA (1983).

A long-standing Victorian representative on the council of the Australian Physical Education Association, Gill organised its 1968 biennial conference in Melbourne. She was also an active member of the Australian Council of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, president of the Victorian Women’s Amateur Sports Council, and Australian representative on the council of the International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Women and Girls. In 1976 she was a foundation member of the board of the Confederation of Australian Sport (vice-president, 1982-86), and next year became the only woman on the Federal government’s Sports Advisory Council. A forceful advocate for improving standards in school curricula and examinations, and for the role of team sports in upholding `an Australian way of life’, Gill presided over the ACHPER and chaired its Sport in Schools Committee and the Australian Sport Coaches Assembly (1982-86), overseeing the accreditation of thirty-three thousand registered coaches. She was appointed MBE in 1975.

Following her retirement from the university in 1983, Gill continued to work in sports policy and administration; in 1986 the CAS made her a fellow and presented her with its gold award. She was a `quiet leader’ in Soroptimist International of Victoria and patroness (1985) of the Victorian Lawn Bowls Association. Falling ill in 1986 she stepped down from most of her responsibilities. She died of cancer on 4 December 1987 at Canterbury, Melbourne, and was cremated. Tributes recalled her `wisdom’, `analytical mind’ and `innate dignity’, and her success in raising the profile of women in the community. The Eunice Gill memorial award for coach development honours her work. In 1995 she was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an associate member—administration.

Select Bibliography

  • Herald (Melbourne), 14 Aug 1980, p 41
  • Sport Report, June 1986, p 3
  • Australian Netball News, 7 Mar 1988, p 6
  • Board of Studies in Physical Education, Minutes of Meetings, 1941-53 (University of Melbourne Archives)
  • biography file (Netball Victoria, Melbourne)
  • private information.

Citation details

Judith Smart, 'Gill, Eunice Elizabeth Perrott (1918–1987)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gill-eunice-elizabeth-perrott-12539/text22569, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 17 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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