Australia Day honours 2018: Margaret Barry OAM

Australia Day honours 2018: Margaret Barry OAM

Fashion entrepreneur Margaret Barry had no experience in education or international development when she started the Bali Children’s Foundation 15 years ago.

Today the foundation gives scholarships to 1100 Balinese students, and holds regular classes in literacy and information technology.

This allows students to succeed in mainstream schools, and ultimately see their education through.

For her work, Ms Barry has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM).

Born into a family of teachers in South-East Gippsland, Ms Barry says the help of others has helped the foundation to grow into the success story it is today.

“There’s no way any one person could ever have done it,” the 66-year-old says.

“It’s about teamwork. It’s a huge body of work achieved by a big group of people.”

Last year, 30 per cent of the children who went through her program went on to pursue tertiary education, which she says is critical in ensuring the students are able to build a sustainable future for themselves and their families.

Although she decided to finally leave her fashion business behind last year, she says that her background has made her “resilient and forward-thinking”, which has been tremendously important in her charitable work.