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Melba Marginson

Advocate, trainer and mentor for migrant and refugee women in Australia


Filipino Australian Melba Marginson has worked in the area of multicultural and women’s affairs since she migrated to Australia 34 years ago. She raised the issues of Filipino women in the Australian public’s agenda in the 1990s, which led to significant policy reforms and legislative changes that increased Australia’s protection of overseas women who became victims of family violence in Australia.

As a result of her pioneering work in this area, she was appointed by then Premier Steve Bracks as VMC Commissioner in 2000 and served the Commission until 2005.

In 2001, she was inducted into the inaugural Victorian Women’s Honour Roll for her work on violence against immigrant and refugee women.

Since the 1990s, Melba has served in Boards and Committees of several non-profit organisations, including Victorian Women’s Trust, Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition, Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia, Network of Immigrant and Refugee Women of Australia, Women’s Health West, to name a few. She was also appointed to a number of state and federal Ministerial Advisory Committees as an expert on multicultural women’s issues.

The impact of Melba Marginson’s achievements in the life of immigrant and refugee women was further recognized when she was named by the Westpac and Australian Financial Review as one of “100 Australian women of influence in 2014” and was also nominated for the Hesta Social Impact Award in 2014. In 2016, Health Minister Jill Hennessy appointed Melba Marginson to the Board of Northern Health.

In 2017, Melba founded ‘The Silent Witness Network’, a multicultural network of people who are passionate about reducing family violence and supporting children who become the ‘silent witnesses’ of family violence within culturally diverse communities.

In 2021, she joined the Management Committee of Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West as Treasurer.

Professionally, Melba Marginson worked as Media Officer, Diversity and Settlement Planner, Community Unit Manager, Cultural Diversity Trainer and CEO of women’s and multicultural organisations in Victoria.

In her semi-retirement, Melba works as translator/interpreter and cultural consultant.

Melba has a 26 year-old daughter who was educated in Europe as a historian.


Biography provided by Melba Marginson.


Photo: Melba Marginson – photograph provided by Melba Marginson


Film: MELBA MARGINSON – Her Place Women’s Museum


Site: Her Place Women’s Museum is a not-for-profit organisation that honours and celebrates the social, civic and entrepreneurial achievements of all Australian women and their role in shaping our nation.


Film: MELBA MARGINSON – Her Place Women’s Museum