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Merle Mitchell AM

Merle Mitchell is much admired for her commitment to social justice and her inclusive approach to decision making.

Honour Roll

Born in Dandenong in 1934, Merle Mitchell trained as a kindergarten teacher. In 1961, after four years in Gippsland, Merle and her husband, Eric, settled in the newly developing area of Sandown Park, where services were limited.

This prompted Merle to become an active lobbyist. Early involvements included the planning of kindergarten facilities across the City of Springvale and the establishment of Sandown Park Primary School. Merle was a member of the steering committee which set up the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau and she has remained committed to it for over 25 years. 

In 1991, Merle was awarded the Member for the Order of Australia (AM).

She served as President of the Australian Council of Social Services. She was also involved in honorary positions with ACOSS and the Victorian Council of Social Service for decades - having been VCOSS President from 1984-87 and on the ACOSS Board from 1985.

She was involved in policy development and advocacy on social security and taxation issues affecting low-income people and served on a number of senior government advisory groups at the national and state levels. She had a particular commitment to ensuring services are relevant and accessible to people of non-English speaking backgrounds. This stemmed from her day-to-day work for decades in the outer Melbourne suburb of Springvale, which has a high migrant and refugee population.