Mollie Dyer was an activist in Aboriginal affairs during the 1950s and beyond. Mollie was born in Barmah (Cummeragunga) in 1927. She was raised for many years by her non-Indigenous grandparents in both Hawthorn and Hastings and boarded at a convent school in Abbotsford. Mollie spent holidays with her mother in Cummeragunga and moved to Seddon in the 1940s. Like many people at that time, Mollie entered the workforce at 15. While she lived at Seddon, Mollie was very involved in her mother’s fundraising for a girls’ hostel – a focus that she writes about in her book Room for One More.
During the 1940s, Mollie lived at 38 Pentland Parade, Seddon, with her mother Margaret Tucker. Mollie writes: “When I was fourteen I became increasingly aware of the reasons Mum, Uncle Cooper and Uncle Doug continued to fight so persistently for our cause…” (Room for One More, p. 17).
Mollie lobbied government for greater Aboriginal community say over at risk children. She was a key figure in starting the Aboriginal Child Care service in 1977 which became the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA). Mollie was the first Program Director of VACCA – something she describes in some detail in her book, Room for One More: the life of Mollie Dyer.
Even when she had young children of her own, Mollie provided many Aboriginal people with foster care. Mollie had six children and fostered 20 children from Aboriginal communities. She advocated for changes to adoption legislation in Victoria to prevent Aboriginal children being unnecessarily removed. She was involved with the establishment of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) in the early 1980s.
In 1979, Mollie Dyer (AM) received a Member of the Order of Australia award for ‘outstanding contribution to the advancement and enrichment of Australia, its people and its way of life’. She is mentioned in the Maribyrnong Heritage Study:
“Molly provided many Aboriginal people with foster care. Molly was one of the founding members of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency. After moving from Seddon, Molly continued to provide foster care to many underprivileged children.”
Mollie Dyer was inducted into the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria Honour Roll 2012.
Notable associates of Molly include: