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Rona Ellen (Glynn) Schaber (1936 - 1965)

Rona Ellen Schaber formerly Glynn
Born in Woodgreen, Northern Territory, Australiamap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australiamap
Profile manager: Simon Ross private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 16 Jul 2019
This page has been accessed 153 times.


Rona (Glynn) Schaber is an Indigenous Australian.

Rona was born to Ron Price and Topsy Glynn at Woodgreen Station, Aboriginal name Atartinga[1], in the Northern Territory on 24 September 1936[2]. Ron was the last child of Fred Price, who literally gave his all to the Overland Telegraph (Traynor, 2016, p.243), and his wife 'Ivy' (Isabelle Violet Hesketh), and was born in Adelaide in 1914. At the time of Rona's birth Topsy Glynn was a housemaid and cook at the Woodford Station. In 1939 she had a 2nd child, Freda Glynn, to another father, as she is referred to as Rona's half-sister.

Thanks to Paul Mackett[3], we have access to a letter from Mr R.H. Purvis, Wood Green Station owner, dated 2 June 1940, to the Minister of the Interior, which indicates that Topsy was "the daughter of James Glynn, halfcaste and a lubra". When her mother was killed - there are claims that it was by blacks/whites - James could not bring Topsy up because of his itinerant work as a stockman, so gave her away. James had been working at the time at Stirling Station. The letter also indicates that the father of Freda Glynn was Alf Price, brother of Ron, and son of Fred.

In the same year of 1939, when Freda was born, when Rona was 3 years old, and in the month of September, they were sent to The Bungalow, a "half-caste institution" for people of mixed European and Aboriginal descent, at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. Topsy worked as a laundress at the institution in order to stay with her children (ref.2).

A letter dated 30 July 1940 from the 'Half-caste Institution' to the Director of Native Affairs Alice Springs about Topsy Glynn, has that she was a 3/4 caste Aboriginal aged about 23 years, for a birth year of about 1917, and came to the Institution on 12 September 1939, with Freda Glynn aged 11 mths, born Wood Green Station 24 August, 1939. Rona, who was aged 3 1/2 years, born Wood Green Station 24 September 1936 was admitted at the Institution on 2 October, 1939. Freda was only 19 days old and needed constant attention.

It further appears that Topsy did go back to work for Purvis in November 1940 but not for very long, as she, Rona and Freda were evacuated, in May 1941, first to Darwin, then to Croker Island along with 40 other children from the Bungalow Institution[4], including Robert James Randall-3375, in the Methodist group.

Rona and Freda attended Primary School while still in New South Wales, at Mudgee and Sydney[5], before returning to Alice Springs in about 1948/49 to the newly established St Mary's Church of England Hostel[6][7], located south of the Gap. There she would stay for 5 years as a boarder, attending the Alice Springs Higher Primary School in 1951, where she was an excellent student (ref.2). In the following year, aged 16, she became the first Aboriginal school teacher in Central Australia (also in the Northern Territory), appointed by the South Australian Department of Education[8]. Her mother, Topsy, was working at the Residency in Alice Springs at that time.

By the middle of 1954, Rona followed her long-term career ambition and began nursing training in Melbourne (ref.7), at the Melbourne School of Nursing, graduating in 1957 (ref.2). In 1958, she did a 12 months midwifery training course at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, remaining on staff as a Charge Sister.

She returned home and was appointed as the first Aboriginal Charge Sister of the maternity ward at Alice Springs Hospital on 24 January, 1962.

In 1963, Rona Glynn was on the Electoral Roll at Alice Springs Hospital, with her occupation as Nurse, while her mother Topsy and sister Alfreda were resident at 2 Jarvis Street, Alice Springs, Alfreda giving her occupation as Photographer, and their mother doing Home Duties.

She stayed at the Alice Springs Hospital until 24 June, 1964. She then married William (Bill) Schaber, in 1964, and resigned from her work.

Having helped deliver around 2,000 babies, she died on 4 January, 1965 giving birth to her first baby. Her funeral was attended by many from the community, by whom she was held in high regard.

She was the first Aboriginal woman to have a pre-school named in her honour in Australia, the Eastside Preschool at Ross Park Primary School was renamed Rona Glynn Preschool[9] in September 1965, with over 100 people at the ceremony. The president of the kindergarten gave a tribute to Rona who had worked so hard to make the centre a reality (ref.5).


  • Traynor, Stuart, 2016, 'Alice Springs: From singing wire to iconic outback town', Wakefield Press, South Australia.
  • Residence and Occupation: Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 1963.

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G  >  Glynn  |  S  >  Schaber  >  Rona Ellen (Glynn) Schaber

Categories: Indigenous Australians | Kaytetye | Woodgreen Station, Northern Territory | Alice Springs, Northern Territory