Jean Melzer OAM

Jean Melzer OAM, former Senator for Victoria, actively pursued protecting the environment and increasing opportunities for life-long learning.

Honour Roll

In 1981, after seven years of representing Victoria and as one of a handful of women Senators, Jean Melzer made her valedictory address to the Senate. In it she said that when she looked at women around Australia "they are on the move".

True to her word, on leaving the Senate, Jean, of Cape Paterson, did not rest for a moment. She actively pursued interests in protecting the environment and increasing opportunities for life-long learning in local communities.

As President of the University of the Third Age (U3A) Network in Victoria, she has helped older Victorians extend their education. More than 18,000 senior Victorians are members of the University of the Third Age and use the low-cost educational and recreational activities voluntarily provided by fellow members. Her work in developing and supporting new U3As contributed to there being over 70 U3As across the state.

Her particular interest was the development of adult education, employment and recreation opportunities for people living on Victoria's south-east coast. Jean's interest in people was matched by her work protecting the natural environment. As President of the Cape Paterson Progress Association, she was involved in long-term planning to prevent further degradation of the local coastal environment from pollution, salinity and increasing tourism.

In 2004, in recognition of her work, she was awarded both the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia and the Victorian Premier's Senior Achiever Award. Twenty-five years after she left the Senate, she said the women she saw in U3A continue to be on the move. "It's inspirational to see them, heads up, shoulders back and talking - not just about their grandchildren - but also about literature, politics, arts and science. That's what life long education really means".