Sika Kerry OAM

In 1972 Sika Kerry OAM was elected as the first female councillor in the 113-year history of the Footscray City Council.

Honour Roll

This achievement is magnified by the fact that English was not one of the many languages she spoke when she arrived in Australia 25 years earlier. Her election marked the beginning of more than 30 years of community service to people living in the western suburbs of Melbourne, particularly women and migrants, helping them to straddle two cultures. She pioneered the development of many local government services that are now mainstream, including the provision of information in community languages.

Her innovative and passionate approach is exemplified in a photo taken in 1975 that shows her in a local shop whose owner she had persuaded to act as a temporary library for new books published in community languages. Her success helped pave the way for other women, and migrant women in particular, to enter local government and she has made a major contribution to the Australian Local Government Women's Association.

In addition to her involvement in local government, the full scope of her work for people living in the west of Melbourne is impressive.

Amongst many other achievements, she helped establish the first Footscray Migrant Resource Centre in 1981, worked at Keilor City Council in aged care services, became a life governor of the Western General Hospital, spent many years on the ethics committee of Victoria University, was the first woman on the Western Region Council of Technical Education and a counsellor at the Western Centre Against Sexual Assault.

In 1991 she received the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of her contribution to local government and multiculturalism. She has also made a major contribution to the welfare of the local Russian community through the Russian Ethnic Representative Council and numerous aged care, welfare and education services.

Underpinning all this work has been a passionate belief in the principle of equality and a "fair go”.