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Tributes Pour in for Social Activist

19 September 2012 at 4:47 pm
Staff Reporter
Tributes are pouring in for social activist and leading expert on poverty, Jean McCaughey, AO, who has died in Melbourne.

Staff Reporter | 19 September 2012 at 4:47 pm


Tributes Pour in for Social Activist
19 September 2012 at 4:47 pm

Jean McCaughey, AO. Photo:

Tributes are pouring in for social activist and leading expert on poverty, Jean McCaughey, AO, who has died in Melbourne.

McCaughey was the widow of the former Victorian Governor Dr Davis McCaughey, and was involved in social welfare issues.

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988.

Acting Premier Peter Ryan paid tribute to Jean McCaughey, describing her as a “wonderful person and a great support to her husband during his time as Governor of Victoria, from 1986 to 1992”.

“On behalf of the Victorian Coalition Government, I express our sincere condolences to the McCaughey family at this time,” Ryan said in a statement.

McCaughey was a leading expert on the effects of poverty on family life and homelessness, and was published widely in this area.

VCOSS Chief Executive Penny Wilson said that the organisation honours McCaughey for her commitment to addressing poverty and disadvantage in Victoria.

“Jean was a strong supporter of VCOSS and the important role that local community organisations play in supporting their communities. Her encouragement, tenacity and strength of spirit will be remembered,” Wilson.

During the 1980s as a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute for Family Studies she made a major contribution to social research with her publication 'A Bit of a Struggle, Coping with Family life in Australia' published by Penguin in 1987.

She also undertook a study for Hanover Welfare Services on homeless families and published 'Where Now? Homeless Families in the 90's'. Subsequently, she was appointed to the Ministerial Committee on Housing.

Chief Executive of Hanover Welfare Services, Tony Keenan, said: “The Board and Staff of Hanover Welfare Services acknowledge the sad passing of a great friend of Hanover and a truly wonderful Victorian. Jean undertook groundbreaking research into family homelessness for Hanover.”

“Her study still influences our work greatly and family homelessness was cause she remained passionately committed to. Both Jean and her husband Davis made an enormous impact on social policy and justice in Victoria.”

McCaughey also served on the Board of the Royal Melbourne Hospital and chaired the Council of St Hilda's College at the University of Melbourne.

She was the first Chair of the Key Centre for the Study of Women's Health in Society based in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Science at the University of Melbourne.

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