Illawarra-based Christine Sykes came to write books relatively late in life. Her first book was published on her 70th birthday.
She had always wanted to be a writer but before she could do that, she had to earn a living.
"Nearly 10 years ago I was faced with redundancy from the public service.
"I was horrified. I thought I had a lot to give and they were putting me on the scrap heap."
She decided she would do three things - write the type of books she liked to read, follow her Auntie Peg by taking up tap dancing, and volunteer with Dressed for Success.
Dressed for Success is a not-for-profit founded by Megan Ethridge in 2008 which helps women enter and re-enter the workforce.
Her time volunteering with Dressed for Success inspired her first book The Changing Room.
Ms Sykes grew up in Western Sydney's Cabramatta in a two-bedroom fibro that her father and uncles built.
"It was out in the boonies, not much services and dirt roads."
When she was eight years old Gough Whitlam and his family moved into her street.
The family was "posh", educated and lived in an architect-designed house.
"That changed everything, it changed a working-class kid seeing them in everyday life," Ms Sykes said.
While in opposition, Whitlam successfully lobbied for the introduction of senior secondary scholarships so that working class kids who had left school at the age of 13 or 14 could resume their education.
Ms Sykes was one of the first beneficiaries.
"I went back to school and then on to Sydney Uni."
When he became Prime Minister "the changes he brought in for women impacted me personally and professionally and changed my whole career path".
Whitlam provided funding for women's support services, International Women's Year and child care.
Ms Sykes' participation in the first International Women's Day forum led to her involvement in Bonnie Women's Refuge.
In turn, that led her to work at the Fairfield Video Access Centre which provided assistance to the local community, including women's groups and playgroups.
"This spearheaded my career in community work and public service."
Her memoir, and second book, was fittingly called Gough and Me.
Ms Sykes will discuss her third book The Tap Cats of the Sunshine Coast at Bermagui Library at 11am on Friday, November 18.
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