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Awarded for service to Multicultural Affairs
Born: 27 May 1943
Entered on roll: 2009
Merma Kelly was born in Manila, Philippines, on 27 May 1943 and migrated to Australia in 1981 with her two daughters. Since her arrival, Merma has been a strong advocate for migrants, recognising the benefits of cultural diversity to the wider community. She is widely recognised as a leader in the Tasmanian Filipino community.
Being a member of the first Filipino family to arrive in the small North–West town of Smithton, Merma was instrumental in establishing support groups and networks for Filipino women. She was an inaugural member of the Australia-Filipino Friendship Group in Northern Tasmania and was a founding member of the continuing Bayanihan Group.
Merma has been a voice for the Filipino community, representing their particular needs to services and government. Her skills in identifying and representing migrant needs, as well as actively contributing to current issues, has led to Merma being sought for membership on a number of committees.
In 1993, Merma was appointed to the Tasmanian Women’s Consultative Council to represent migrant women’s issues. She is also a founding member of the Circular Head International Friendship Group and has been an active contributor to the group for 15 years, representing over 15 cultures. Since her retirement, Merma has been a valued volunteer at the Wyndarra Centre, a community resource centre in Smithton.
In 2001, as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations, Merma was awarded a Local Hero Award by the Circular Head Council for her contribution to migrant services. In the same year she received a Tasmanian Filipino Women Achievement Award for her outstanding achievement in the category of cultural and social development.
In 2009, Merma was appointed to the Tasmanian Advisory Council on Multicultural Affairs, allowing her to continue to advocate for the multicultural community of Tasmania.