On Wednesday 9 August 2017, respected Fahan alumna, Coroner Olivia McTaggart (Class of 1983), delivered the 2017 Travers Morphett Lecture titled, Discovering the truth – a Coroner’s story, to assembled guests and the girls from Years 9 – 12.
This was the eighth lecture in this series named in honour of the founders of the School, Miss Isobel Travers and Miss Audrey Morphett.
The series was inaugurated in 2010 to commemorate the School’s 75th anniversary, and is designed to showcase members of the Fahan alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields.
Previous speakers have included: entrepreneur, Pearly Ingkakul; sociologist, Dr Catherine Robinson; actor, Robyn Nevin AM; singer, Judith Durham OAM; biologist, Dr Margaret Davies OAM; TV producer and creator, Posie Graeme-Evans and author, Rachael Treasure.
Olivia McTaggart was Deputy Head Prefect at Fahan in 1983 and studied Law and Arts at the University of Tasmania. Olivia was appointed as a Magistrate in 2004 and has been the Chief Coroner for the last three years, reforming the Tasmanian Coronial Court. Tasked with the investigation of sudden and unnatural deaths, her lecture was a captivating insight into the role of a coroner.
Olivia began by reflecting on how her time at Fahan had formed the basis of her future path. “Being a small, nurturing girls school, Fahan was perfect for me. My oldest friends now, are from my years at Fahan. The founders of this wonderful school were visionaries and in keeping with the School ethic, we were always encouraged to extend ourselves and our career options. The teachers were amazing role models and we were taught that we could achieve anything. When I look at the class I was in, that has certainly proven to be the case,” said Olivia.
She explained in detail her path to becoming a judge presiding in the Magistrates’ Court in Tasmania and some of the cases she has been involved with. “My job is fascinating and it involves learning in all areas of law. I think our society is better because we care about the deceased who die in such circumstances and we strive to learn those lessons to protect the living. One way we do this is by having an effective coronial system,” she said.
Olivia continued, “I didn’t imagine at school that I would be a coroner, but I think you will find that life takes you in all sorts of challenging directions if you’re open to it. As a coroner encountering death and its tragic consequences on a daily basis, I can’t help but be grateful for life, for health and for the ability to contribute to the community and this school has been such an important part of my path.”
To the girls in Years 9 – 12 she said, “You are all so fortunate to have the best foundation to keep learning and to find your own paths.”
“The TM Lecture is a wonderful opportunity for our girls to learn of, and be inspired by, the achievements of former students,” said Fahan Principal, Tony Freeman.
Olivia’s talk fascinated the Senior girls, “At Fahan, I’ve never felt that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do because I was a girl. I have never actually experienced any of the limitations I’ve heard of in society at School, so it was inspiring to hear Olivia echo that sentiment and talk about how she always strived to do her best in what was really a male dominated area and then achieve so much,” said Deputy Head Girl, Charlotte Young.
Head Girl, Isabella Alcorso, agreed, “It’s always nice to see someone coming from the same perspective and journey, it always inspires us even more.”