MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education)
Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September:
Today I rise to pay tribute to two extraordinary women who have contributed so much to the people and communities of Victoria and have sadly passed away: June Bradbury, OAM, 19 June 1964 to 3 September 2021; and Merle Mitchell, AM, 15 July 1934 to 20 September 2021.
Both women were extraordinary trailblazers who dedicated their professional and personal lives to making Victoria a better place.
June Bradbury’s influence on the inner-urban community of Collingwood still resonates today. In 1975 she was elected to the Collingwood City Council, and one of her many legacies is the Collingwood Children’s Farm which was her brainchild. She was also the first woman to have a vote at the Collingwood Football Club election, which at the time sparked controversy!
She spent a lifetime devoted to community engagement, education and social justice. Later in life June moved to Casterton, and it was there in 2017 that I had the great privilege to acknowledge June’s 65-year membership of the Australian Labor Party.
Merle Mitchell spent a lifetime dedicated to community activism and achieved so much change. She was committed to making the world a better place, and she did just that.
Her professional life spanned many careers and sectors from kindergarten teacher to work with the refugee council, and president of the Victorian Council of Social Service and president of the Australian Council of Social Service.
Her leadership, compassion, care and powerful intellect informed national and state government policymaking in social security and social welfare.
Her approach was always simple yet powerful. This was exemplified by her advocacy for aged care, which culminated in her submission to the royal commission into aged care. Merle spoke from the heart as she reflected on her own experience and articulated how many Australian’s feel. Her clear voice to fight discrimination and disadvantage and to protect human rights will resonate for years to come. Her advocacy was incisive, articulate and determined. National and state politicians respected and listened to her.
June Bradbury and Merle Mitchell were significant Victorians, whose legacies will resound in our society. Vale.