Federal Parliament - Dr Leela de Mel

May 24, 2021

Dr ALY: Yesterday Dr Leela de Mel, known to those who loved and knew her simply as Leela, passed away peacefully at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, after a long and brave struggle. Many of the people here won't know who she is, but, among the public sector in Western Australia and multicultural communities, her bravery, her vision and her tenacity will be fondly remembered. Leela was the Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Interests when I first started my career in public policy, in 2001. She gave me my first break into policy. She was my boss, but she became my friend, my mentor and my role model. She taught me so much about policy. Under her leadership and the leadership of the then Premier and Minister for Multiculturalism, Geoff Gallop, the multicultural portfolio in WA saw its best years. We developed the WA Charter of Multiculturalism, the language services policy and the substantive equality policy—all under her leadership. I was fortunate enough to be able to see her on Thursday, with my husband, David, and to say our final goodbyes. Though she wasn't lucid for most of the time, I still recognised that spark in her eyes when she looked up at me. To her husband, Michael O'Toole, her son, Janek, and her extended family, I send my deepest condolences. Leela, may you rest in peace. We will always remember you with love in our hearts and a smile on our faces.