Aged care campaigner, community activist and former ACOSS president Merle Mitchell has died

© Provided by ABC NEWS Merle Mitchell worked tirelessly to improve the community around her – more recently becoming a voice for aged care residents during the Royal Commission. (Supplied: Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety)

Former Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) president and advocate for so many, Merle Mitchell AM, has died. 

Merle’s commitment to her community was obvious to anyone lucky enough to cross her path. 

Her approach was a simple, but powerful one — as she told The Council of Ageing in 2018:

“I think I became a community activist because whenever I saw there was something that needed to be done, I thought, we should do something about it.”

In her early career, Merle trained as a kindergarten teacher. 

After a few years in the classroom, she moved into community work: helping to establish Sandown Park Primary School, as well as the planning of kindergartens across the City of Springvale. 

She shared her considerable knowledge and experience to help the development of state and federal social welfare policies.

After many years of advocacy for her community and others she went on to serve as the president of the ACOSS from 1989-1993.

In 1991, she was awarded the Member for the Order of Australia. 

Merle’s considerable CV demonstrates a woman of great compassion and care: work with the Refugee Council, participation with Commonwealth advisory bodies on things like social security and child support, volunteer work as part of the Foodbank Victoria Steering Committee — and much, much more.  

Royal Commission into Aged Care

Ms Mitchell was one of many who shared their story with the aged care royal commission. 

In her lengthy and detailed submission, she spoke of moving into a care home with her late husband Eric in 2016. 

“The sense of loss that comes from moving to aged care is really underestimated,” she told the Commission. 

“I had lost my independence, control over my life and I felt I had lost my connection with my much-loved community.”

Merle revealed the trauma of leaving her independent life behind, the grief at the death of her husband — and the frustration she felt dealing with care institutions. 

“The way the system is currently structured, staff cannot implement compassionate person-centred care.”

In March this year, the final report into the aged care royal commission was released. 

She expressed her concern and shock that commissioners were split over the recommendations. 

“I’m only hoping that there’s enough push from the community to say enough is enough, we’ve got to have the funding, we’ve got to listen to the people who did all the work and implement those recommendations as soon as we possibly can.”

“I just keep thinking, when I was getting people to write their submissions, that this was the one opportunity that we had to make things right again. And if we didn’t, we were failing our generation, and all the generations to come.”

Sharing her experiences of a pandemic in aged care

Ms Mitchell’s piece in The Sydney Morning Herald last August, titled Damn, I am still alive, was a gripping and honest account of the experience of older Australians in COVID lockdown. 

“I know I’m here until I die so every morning when I wake up I think, ‘damn, I’ve woken up’,” she wrote. 

In October 2020, she joined the panel on The Drum. 

“I say, ‘This is a room where I got a bed, where I’m looked after, where I’ve got a chair. This is not my home’.”

At the time of filming, she was in lockdown in Melbourne. That week had been the first time in more than six months Merle had been able to see her family. 

Tributes to Merle, a ‘people’s hero’

Fellow community advocates have been sharing their reflections on Merle’s life and incredible contribution over the years. 

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie described Ms Mitchell as a “sharp, determined, tenacious, compassionate advocate”.

“Merle leaves an extraordinary legacy of lives made better, organisations built and stronger, and policies which have stood the test of time.”

“As importantly, Merle Mitchell leaves a powerful message to us all about what true leadership really takes. Merle spoke not in slogans but with truth, heart and head, and showed us all what true courage takes.”

Ian Yates, Council of the Ageing chief executive described her as a ‘genuine people’s hero’.

“From her days leading VCOSS, to her more recent contributions to the Council on the Ageing, and many other civil society organisations in between, Merle lived and demonstrated compassion and a deep commitment to fight discrimination and disadvantage and to protect people’s rights.”

“And in the last years, from her nursing home, she was a fearsome and articulate advocate for the rights of people in aged care; a powerful, credible, star witness at the aged care royal commission; and a forceful media advocate for aged rights,” added Yates. 

“Vale Merle, with thanks and appreciation from so many. You will be deeply missed.” 

Ian Henschke, chief advocate for National Seniors Australia, said he was “very saddened” to hear of her passing.

“But what a wonderful life she led advocating for others. She gave one of the most powerful testimonies before the Royal Commission into Aged Care when she told of her own personal experience, saying she was living in an institution rather than a home. She said, “there’s just that feeling this isn’t a proper life.

On behalf of National Seniors and the seniors community, I want to thank her for her tireless work. She was able to focus people’s minds on the individual and show aged care policies must change to improve people’s lives.”

Mr Henschke said it was a privilege to appear with her on television, to speak on these issues. 

“Let’s hope her advocacy is not forgotten and whoever wins the next election restores faith in the Aged Care system,” he said.

Merle Mitchell was a valued member of The Drum family. We are grateful for the time she made to appear on the show — and the wisdom, humour and insight she shared. 

She will be deeply missed. 

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Prince Harry missing Diana party is bitter blow after 'personal attack against Kate', expert says

Prince Harry’s decision not to attend Princess Diana’s memorial party could drive a further wedge between him and his brother William, according to a royal expert. Celebrities, dignitaries, family and ... Read more »

Taoiseach gives update as three Covid rules could stay in Ireland for Christmas and until Spring 2022

Mask wearing, social distancing indoors and Covid certs could be kept in place as far as Spring 2022. NPHET have recommended that a pause be put on Ireland’s full reopening ... Read more »

‘Great developments' in UAE-Iraq relations hailed at Expo 2020 Dubai

© SABAH ARAR Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein speaks during a handover ceremony of looted Iraqi antiquities returned by the United States, at the Ministry of foreign Affairs ... Read more »

Expo 2020 Dubai: First World Giftedness Centre conference to become global hub for talent

© Provided by Khaleej Times Expo 2020 Dubai: First World Giftedness Centre conference to become global hub for talent A first-of-its-kind World Giftedness Centre International Conference aims to facilitate the ... Read more »

Poland almost doubles troop numbers on Belarus border

© Reuters/KACPER PEMPEL Polish Army soldiers are seen in front of the Border Guard headquarters in Michalowo WARSAW (Reuters) – Almost 6,000 Polish soldiers are now guarding the country’s border ... Read more »

«Eine Zeit, in der Männer dachten, sie dürften das»

Zwei Frauen berichten von sexuellen Übergriffen durch den 2016 gestorbenen israelischen Staatsmann und Friedensnobelpreisträger Shimon Peres. © Foto: Alain Benainous (AFP) Viele verehren Shimon Peres bis heute als Visionär und ... Read more »

Crowdfunding gestartet: Bern soll neues Online-Portal «Hauptstadt» erhalten

«Hauptstadt»: So soll ein neues Online-Portal heissen, das eine Gruppe von Journalistinnen und Journalisten ab kommendem Jahr in Bern betreiben will. Am Dienstag haben die Initiantinnen und Initianten dafür eine ... Read more »

Ram Charan says he enjoyed watching Most Eligible Bachelor; Hails Pooja Hegde & Akhil Akkineni

© Provided by Pinkvilla Akhil Akkineni and Pooja Hegde much-anticipated film Most Eligible Bachelor was released on Friday, October 15. As expected, the romantic comedy-drama which tells the story of ... Read more »

Angelina Jewellery: Jolie debuts a brand new way to wear bling

Watch: Marvel's Eternals premieres in Hollywood. Angelina Jolie made a unique fashion statement during an appearance at the Eternals film premiere in Los Angeles on Monday night, wearing an eye-catching ... Read more »

Myanmar to release 5,000 people imprisoned for protesting coup

File: Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar‘s armed forces General Min Aung Hlaing (AP) Myanmar will release over 5,000 people arrested for protesting against the military coup that wrested power from the civil ... Read more »

Adam Peaty admitted he could ‘see how the Strictly curse happens' weeks before ‘near-kiss' with Katya Jones

STRICTLY Come Dancing star Adam Peaty said he understood why the show's famous curse happened – weeks before his 'near kiss' with Katya Jones. The pair produced a sizzling Argentine Tango on ... Read more »

Heathrow passenger charges could rise by up to 56% by 2023

Heathrow will be allowed to significantly raise its landing charges from next summer, the aviation regulator has announced, although it has ruled out the near-doubling of charges proposed by the ... Read more »

I'm a nurse and got bodyshamed over my uniform – she said my trousers were ‘too tight' and I was ‘sexualising' scrubs

A NURSE has recalled how a patient's wife body-shamed her while she was wearing her uniform. She had been checking the vitals of the woman's husband in order for him ... Read more »

Thomas Markle says ‘childish' Meghan ‘changed once she hooked up with Harry' and ‘disowned both sides of her family'

THOMAS Markle said the Duchess of Sussex “changed” when she met Prince Harry and has “pretty much disowned both sides of her family”. The estranged dad said he couldn't understand ... Read more »

Tesco opens first stores with no tills TODAY – here's what to expect

TESCO has opened its first store with no tills – where customers can walk out without going to a checkout.  The launch of the GetGo store in central London makes ... Read more »

Katya Jones' close friends beg her not to fall victim to another Strictly Curse after Adam Peaty ‘kiss'

PALS of Strictly love cheat Katya Jones have begged her: “Don’t do it again.” The Russian dancer and Olympic hero Adam Peaty sparked a frenzy of speculation after they appeared ... Read more »

Bride blasted with shrapnel and her brother killed after WWI bomb exploded during wedding party

A BRIDE is in hospital and her brother is dead after a World War 1 bomb destroyed her post-wedding celebration. Lidiia Makarchuk, 31, was blasted with shrapnel while she enjoyed ... Read more »

Saman anggota tentera dipecat enggan vaksin didengar 28 Okt

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Perkhidmatan Wan Ramli Wan Seman ditamatkan Ogos lalu atas dakwaan empat kesalahan bawah Akta Angkatan Tentera 1972. PETALING JAYA: Permohonan semakan kehakiman seorang bekas ... Read more »

The best places to see the spectacular Ain Dubai fireworks show

© Motivate Publishing Ain Dubai night ft Some fabulous Dubai venues have some brilliant special offers… After a very long wait and years of anticipation, Ain Dubai or ‘the Dubai ... Read more »

Egypt to Set Up Vaccination Centers at Train, Metro Stations

Egyptian students wear masks Egypt on Monday announced that it will set up new COVID-19 inoculation sites inside metro and train stations, and near mosques and churches to speed up ... Read more »

Kuwait reports 39 new COVID-19 cases

KUWAIT, 19th October, 2021 (WAM) — Kuwait has announced 39 new COVID-19 cases and one related death in the past 24 hours. The state news agency KUNA quoted the Kuwaiti ... Read more »

Timah is a metal, not a Muslim name, explains Tuan Ibrahim

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man says he regrets that certain parties are attacking PAS over the Timah whisky issue. PETALING JAYA: A PAS leader has ... Read more »

Qatar's Emir orders cabinet reshuffle

© QATAR NEWS AGENCY Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim, gives a speech to the Shura Council in Doha, Qatar. Reuters Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim announced a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday. ... Read more »

Zhang Shuai beaten by Xinyu Wang in Tenerife, Jerry Shang wins second men's title

Zhang Shuai of China serves to Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Photo: AP China’s No 1 tennis player Zhang Shuai was knocked out ... Read more »

Price for drug that reverses opioid overdoses soars amid record deaths

As the United States faces an unprecedented surge in opioid overdoses, harm reduction groups are seeing shortages in naloxone, a usually affordable and easy-to-use medication that reverses overdoses and has ... Read more »

Georgia Redmayne, bowlers combine as Brisbane Heat down Perth Scorchers

© Getty Images Georgia Redmayne made an unbeaten 59 from 52 balls © Getty Images Brisbane Heat 5 for 162 (Redmayne 59*, Harris 34, Graham 2-15) beat Perth Scorchers 103 ... Read more »

Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebrations - best bits not to miss

Walt Disney World has kicked off its 50th anniversary showpiece and the fabulous Florida festivities to mark it will last a mouse-tastic year and a half. Billed as ‘The World’s ... Read more »

Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo returns to politics with new political party

Côte d'Ivoire's ex-president Laurent Gbagbo unveiled his new party on Sunday that he hopes will return him to the presidency after a 10 year absence. With a decade of exile ... Read more »

‘I'm 34 and want children but having Huntington's disease means I might never get old'

When Victoria Mullins watches an elderly couple embrace on television, she feels the prick of tears, and an unwanted thought enters her head: “I might not ever live to get ... Read more »

Minister defends Boris Johnson and wife Carrie over 'childcare bubble'

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A Cabinet minister today confirmed that Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie did have a friend stay with them last Christmas as part ... Read more »

DUP hits out at prosecution of army veteran who died from Covid

Serious questions need to be raised about the prosecution of an 80-year-old army veteran over a fatal shooting during Northern Ireland’s troubles, the Democratic Unionist party leader has said, following ... Read more »

Top ten disappointments of the Premier League season so far

© PA Images Harry Kane Manchester United Raheem Sterling The Premier League season is eight games in and it is time to look at who has let us down. Romelu ... Read more »

Traffic cop asks for car documents, Greater Noida man abducts him for a 10km drive

© Provided by Zee News Noida: A 29-year-old man in Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida has been arrested for allegedly abducting an on-duty traffic policeman who had stopped him to check ... Read more »

Member of Rajya Sabha, Dr. Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad visited the LIC of India

© Provided by The Statesman Member of Rajya Sabha, Dr. Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad visited the LIC of India Dr. Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad, Minister of State, Department of Financial Services, Government ... Read more »

With problems in Manchester United dressing room and on the pitch, can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer save his job?

© PA Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure at Manchester United – PA In the dressing room after Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Everton, one star player was aimlessly raging ... Read more »

Aryan Khan's fundamental rights must be protected, victim of vendetta NCB official: Shiv Sena leader moves SC

© Provided by Hindustan Times Aryan Khan was arrested by the NCB in connection with a drugs case earlier this month.  (ANI File Photo) The fundamental rights of Aryan Khan, ... Read more »

Russian Family of Four Found Dead in Albania Hotel's Sauna, Probe On

© Provided by News18 Russian Family of Four Found Dead in Albania Hotel’s Sauna, Probe On Four members of a Russian family were found dead in the sauna of a ... Read more »

Weekly registered Covid-19 deaths drop 15% – ONS

Registered deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales have fallen for the second week in a row and by the largest proportion since May, figures show. Some 666 deaths registered ... Read more »

Naini Lake floods city, 16 dead, roads, houses washed away in Uttarakhand rains: Top updates

Uttarakhand rains Sixteen people have lost their lives due to the incessant rain, cloudburst and flooding in several parts of Uttarakhand. Videos emerged from Nainital and other regions showing water ... Read more »

Stone-Pelting, Lathi Charge: Tension in Madhya Pradesh Town During Religious Procession

© Provided by News18 Stone-Pelting, Lathi Charge: Tension in Madhya Pradesh Town During Religious Procession Tension gripped Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar town on Tuesday during Milad-un-Nabi procession. The administration had allowed the procession ... Read more »