N followed her two older sisters to Woodville High School in Adelaide. Her mother enrolled her in the Commercial stream following the common wisdom that if you can type you will always have a job. Port Adelaide Girls High would have been closer, but it had, according to her mother, a bit of a reputation, and she feared her girls would get pregnant if they went there.
Her father was a wharf labourer, which, at that time, meant no security. Men presented for work each day and were assigned to unload or load ships on a needs basis. The insecurity meant her mother worked to maintain cash flow. Her father was keen for the children to join the workforce to contribute to the family income and security. Her two older sisters left school at 14 to work and contribute.