Our Founder

Merle Mitchell AM was a lifelong advocate for equality, community and diversity.

Born in 1934, Merle was a kindergarten teacher who saw the limited services for children and worked to establish kindergarten facilities and the Sandown Park Primary School. Her commitment to advocating for others grew from there, helping to establish the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau (SCAAB) where she was the first Director. Merle also played a vital role in establishing Springvale Neighbourhood House, the Family Mediation Centre and Springvale Monash Legal Service.
Merle remained committed to SCAAB for more than 45 years and continued as the patron of South East Community Links following the merger of SCAAB, Dandenong Community Advisory Bureau (DCAB) and Southern Ethnic Advocacy and Advisory Council (SEAAC) in 2015.
Merle’s leadership in social justice was recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia and a City of Greater Dandenong Living Treasure Award. She sadly passed away in September 2021.
Merle’s message was simple and demonstrates her dedication and commitment to helping others:
“Whenever I saw that something that needed to be done, I thought we should do something about it.”
The values, passion and leadership Merle was known for continue to drive our work and vision to ensure every person counts and every system is fair, and to help improve social and economic outcomes for people in our community.