Mary Kehoe BEM

Mary Kehoe (1897-1985), a teacher and mother of six children, was one of many women of the South Melbourne Home Help Auxiliary, established in 1947. This group worked tirelessly to help local sick, underprivileged and elderly citizens by providing food and other home help. She also served as President of the Auxiliary  for many years.

A club and canteen for senior citizens was opened on the corner of Park Street and Ferrars Place in 1949 using two relocated ex-army huts with money provided by the South Melbourne Community Chest and the former South Melbourne Council (now City of Port Phillip). Mary Kehoe managed its canteen for twelve years, providing meals for those in need, including many World War I veterans.

In 1953 Mary Kehoe was instrumental in establishing Australia’s first Meals on Wheels service in South Melbourne after learning of similar activities in England. The first meals were delivered in a tricycle painted in the South Melbourne Council colours of red and white.

In 1974 a property in Danks Street, Albert Park was purchased by the City of South Melbourne to provide premises for activities for the Elderly Citizens Club.

In 1981 Mary Kehoe was awarded the British Empire Medal for “outstanding service in many charitable fields and, in particular, to the elderly citizens of South Melbourne”.

Mary Kehoe’s work was honoured in the naming after her of the Senior Citizens’ Centre in 1984.


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