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Dr. Carmen Lawrence
Carmen Lawrence 1990 (cropped).png
Lawrence in 1990
25th Premier of Western Australia
In office
12 February 1990 – 16 February 1993
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Francis Burt
Deputy Ian Taylor
Preceded by Peter Dowding
Succeeded by Richard Court
Commonwealth Minister for Health and Human Services
In office
25 March 1994 – 11 March 1996
Prime Minister Paul Keating
Preceded by Graham Richardson
Succeeded by Michael Wooldridge
Commonwealth Minister for Women
In office
25 March 1994 – 11 March 1996
Prime Minister Paul Keating
Preceded by Ros Kelly
Succeeded by Jocelyn Newman
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Fremantle
In office
12 March 1994 – 24 November 2007
Preceded by John Dawkins
Succeeded by Melissa Parke
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Glendalough
In office
4 February 1989 – 4 February 1994
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Michelle Roberts
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Subiaco
In office
8 February 1986 – 4 February 1989
Preceded by Tom Dadour
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Carmen Mary Lawrence

(1948-03-02) 2 March 1948 (age 74)
Northam, Western Australia
Political party Labor
Profession Psychologist

Carmen Mary Lawrence AO (born 2 March 1948) is an Australian academic and former politician who was the Premier of Western Australia from 1990 to 1993, the first woman to become the premier of an Australian state. A member of the Labor Party, she later entered federal politics as a member of the House of Representatives from 1994 to 2007, and served as a minister in the Keating Government.

Lawrence was born in Northam, Western Australia. She studied psychology at the University of Western Australia, obtaining a doctorate in 1983, and before entering politics worked as a lecturer and researcher. Lawrence was elected to state parliament in 1986, and became a government minister in 1988. She replaced Peter Dowding as premier in 1990, as Australia's second female head of government (after ACT Chief Minister Rosemary Follett) and first female state premier. She and the Labor Party lost power at the 1993 state election.

In 1994, Lawrence entered federal parliament through a by-election for the Division of Fremantle. She was almost immediately appointed to cabinet by Paul Keating, serving as Minister for Human Services and Health and Minister for Women until the government's defeat in 1996. Lawrence remained in parliament until the 2007 election, on the frontbench until 2002 and then as a backbencher. From 2004 to 2005, she was federal president of the Labor Party, the first person to be directly elected to the position. She returned to academia after leaving politics, as a psychology professor at the University of Western Australia.

Early life

Carmen Lawrence was born in Northam, in the agricultural district of Western Australia and spent her early childhood in the towns of Gutha and Dongara.

She was one of seven children, six girls and a boy, born to Ernest Richard Lawrence, a farmer, and his wife Mary Norma (née Watson).

From the age of six she was educated at various Roman Catholic boarding schools: Marian Convent at Morawa; Dominican Ladies College at Dongara and Santa Maria College at Attadale from which she matriculated in 1964 with distinctions in six subjects, a General Exhibition for Academic Achievement and the Special Subject Exhibition in economics.

Further education and employment

In 1965, Lawrence enrolled at the University of Western Australia in Perth. In 1968 she graduated as a Bachelor of Psychology with First Class Honours, having won five prizes including that for the most outstanding graduate throughout the Faculties of Arts, Economics and Commerce, Law, Architecture and Education. In 1968 she was Senior Student in Saint Catherine's residential college.

She was politically active from an early stage. While at UWA she lobbied, successfully, to have the Campus Beauty Contest abolished. In Melbourne in the early 1970s she helped to found the Victorian Branch of the Women's Electoral Lobby.

She tutored at the University of Melbourne in 1971 and 1972, tutored and lectured at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT) from 1973 to 1978 and was a lecturer with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Western Australia from 1979 until 1983. During this period she continued with post-graduate research, having won two scholarships for PhD studies in psychology, and received the doctoral degree in 1983, for her dissertation Maternal Responses to Infant Crying.

From 1983 until her election to parliament in 1986, Lawrence was employed in the Research and Evaluation Unit of the Psychiatric Services Branch of the Department of Health of Western Australia.

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