Ann Bon

Ann Bon (1838 – 1936) benefactor, manager, indigenous rights activist
Ann Bon was a member of the first ladies’ committee of the Austin Hospital and a generous benefactor; she was a foundation member of the committee of the Charity Organisation Society and a lifelong supporter of the Salvation Army. She established a school for Chinese children in Melbourne and worked towards a more enlightened approach to mental sickness.

‘Born on 9 April 1838 at Dunning, Perthshire, Scotland, daughter of David Dougall, physician, and his wife Jane, née Fraser.’ At age 20 she married fellow Scots’ Australian, John BON of Wappan Station, on the Devil’s (Delatite) River, Bonnie Doon, nr Mansfield. A presbyterian philanthropist, Activist, Advocate & Defender of Aborigines, Chinese, Women, the Sick, etc. Devout Christian Correspondent. When plans for Lake Eildon took over Wappan station she took refuge on ‘her own’ floor of the Windsor Hotel, Melbourne, where she read the Bible every morning at 10 a.m. She died, aged 98, in Melbourne on 5 June 1936 and was buried in Kew cemetery.

‘Devoutly religious, imperious in her manner, a loving but stern mother, an autocrat with her domestic staff and stationhands, Ann Bon held firmly to her course even if it meant defying authority. Lonely and in many ways shy, she made few close friends, but to those in need, especially the Aboriginals, she showed compassion and generosity. Dispossessed members of the Taungerong tribe had found a refuge at Wappan; in the 1860s they were resettled at Coranderrk near Healesville, but on their annual return for shearing they kept Mrs Bon informed of their treatment by the Board for the Protection of the Aborigines.

Her home at Kew was a refuge for the sick and needy and she regularly visited Aboriginal patients in Melbourne hospitals. When her efforts to provide jobs and clothing were rebuked as ‘interference’ in 1879, she began to support Aboriginals who opposed protection board policy, notably Thomas ‘Punch’ Bamfield, henchman to William Barak. Using her influence with leading Presbyterian clergymen and politicians, she persuaded the government to investigate conditions at Coranderrk in 1881; she accepted membership of the inquiry and succeeded in reversing policy.

The antagonism of officials prevented her appointment to the protection board but she continued her direct intercessions with government members. In 1904 she became a board-member and attended regularly until 1936. She maintained a voluminous correspondence with Aboriginals all over Victoria, remaining uniquely responsible to them; she earned reprimands for ‘disloyalty’ in 1921, 1923 and 1936 when she protested to the minister that her colleagues’ decisions had caused injustice or hardship.

Ann Bon was a member of the first ladies’ committee of the Austin Hospital and a generous benefactor; she was a foundation member of the committee of the Charity Organisation Society and a lifelong supporter of the Salvation Army. She established a school for Chinese children in Melbourne and worked towards a more enlightened approach to mental sickness.

She gave generously to the Presbyterian churches at Mansfield and Bonnie Doon and in World War I donated an ambulance to the Belgian Army, for which she was decorated in 1921 by King Leopold. Each Christmas she gave £20 to every blinded soldier in Victoria. As ‘Sylvia’, she wrote and published books of homely verse and hymns.’
http://australiansaints.blogspot.com/
also
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bon-ann-fraser-5284

John Green and Coranderrk Station : https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/john-green/

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