- 15 February 1919
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
- 17 December 2013
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- Historian, Researcher, Social justice advocate, Women's rights activist and Writer
- Alternative Names
- Hockey, Helen Layton (birth name)
Helen Ferber's lifelong engagement with public affairs and social welfare, both in Australia and Europe, reflected her commitment to the common good. She began her working life in World War II, monitoring and translating enemy radio broadcasts for the Australian Short Wave Listening Post. After the war, her language skills, love of other cultures and strong sense of social justice led her to work with United Nations refugee agencies in Europe.
In 1948, Helen married David Ferber, US Vice Consul in Melbourne, and took up the work of a 'diplomatic wife'. In the mid 1950s the family returned to Australia and Helen spent much of her time caring for their disabled son. During this period she undertook volunteer work with women's organisations in Melbourne, and rose rapidly to positions of authority.
In 1965 she took a part-time position with the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. Initially employed to interview non-English-speaking households, she soon progressed to writing and editing reports, becoming the editor of the institute's publications and a respected writer on social policy. Throughout her life she developed and cherished many deep friendships and was both an inspiration and support to other women as they developed their skills and careers.