Gertrude Melville

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Gertrude Mary Melville (née Day; 7 October 1884 – 21 August 1959) was an Australian politician of the Australian Labor Party. In 1952 she was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council.

Life and career[edit]

Melville was born Gertrude Mary Day on 7 October 1884 to parents John Joseph Day, a sawyer, and Mary Ann Dunbar in Port Macquarie, New South Wales. She moved to Sydney to attend the St Peter's convent school in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills. In 1903 she married Arthur Melville, a New Zealand labourer, with whom she had five sons.[1]

Melville became a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 1904 and campaigned extensively with other party members for women and children's rights. In the periods of 1922–26 and 1950–52, she was a member of the party's central executive committee.[1] In 1925 she stood as an ALP candidate for the Eastern Suburbs district in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly elections, and in 1932 she was a candidate for the district of Hurstville; both times she was unsuccessful.[2] Throughout the 1940s, she worked as a justice of the peace, a member of the New South Wales Board of Health, an alderman of the Cabramatta and Canley Vale municipal council, vice-president of the Country Women's Association's Cabramatta branch, and director of Fairfield Hospital.[1] She was Mayor of Cabramatta–Canley Vale from 1945 to 1948.[2]

In 1952 Melville was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council in order to fill a vacancy caused by another member's death. Although she only served for one term, she earned a reputation as the "grand old lady of the Labor Party".[2] She dedicated her time in parliament to being a "spokesman for the women" and "the little people", supporting equal pay for women, child welfare, housing and hospitals.[1]

She died on 21 August 1959 in Little Bay, Sydney, and was buried in Randwick.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ritter, Leonora (2000). "Melville, Gertrude Mary (1884–1959)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Alafaci, Annette (1 February 2006). "Melville, Gertrude Mary (1884–1959)". Australian Women's Archives Project Web Site. National Foundation for Australian Women. Retrieved 28 September 2014.