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Vale: Ross Melville

Vale: Ross Melville
August 21, 2023

The Y in Australia has acknowledged the achievements of Life Governor Ross Melville, who died at the end of July aged 78.

Described as “a true giant of the Y”, Melville was seen “as an outstanding leader during his 15 years as the YMCA of Brisbane’s Chief Executive from 1992 until 2007”.

Known for his hands-on approach and open-door policy, , Ross was responsible for the incredible growth of the Y of Brisbane and Y-Care on all levels, advancing the association to a strong and reputable organisation.

Although Brisbane has always been his first priority, he made himself available for extraordinary involvement in the wider YMCA Movement, such as conducting business reviews of struggling associations across Australia, his strong leadership within the Senior YMCA Management Group, a director of the Y’s former Superannuation Fund, founder and Director of YMCA E-Store (now Y Services), a board Member of the National Institute of Education and Training, a representative at significant World Council and Asia-Alliance events, a key figure in the development of YMCAs in Queensland and temporary tenure as National CEO for six months at a very critical time for the Australian Y movement.

Ross’s entrepreneurial flair and business acumen resulted in the acquisition of key properties from which to operate Y community programs. Properties owned by the YMCA in Brisbane grew from 3 to 17 sites over a 14-year period while he was CEO. He was a charismatic leader and mentor for many staff members and always encouraged and supported young managers to achieve their best. Ross’s way of giving experience to his managers was to challenge them, make them think differently, set high goals, take different approaches and stick to their values. He had a way of bringing out the best in people.

Ross had a long-term desire for and lobbied strongly for the housing needs of the disadvantaged in the community. He was the driving force behind the development of a Y presence on the Gold Coast in 1993 and, when suitable land was identified in Nerang, he saw a way to assist with the growing housing problems that were evident at the time and construction soon began on a major housing complex. The Board of Directors of the Y believed that a project of such significance as the Y Housing project at Nerang deserved to be named after a very worthy person and had no hesitation on bestowing this honour on Ross. Consequently the property become known as “Melville Place”. To further support his vision, two further housing complexes have now been developed with plans for more.

Another deep area of concern Ross held was for young people who could not cope with mainstream education. After years of hard work, he was able to drive the work of the Y such that we now have ten special assistance schools across Queensland that successfully cater for marginalised young people.

Apart from the Y, Ross was involved in many other not-for-profit clubs and community associations and one very close to his heart was the Southside Community Group which provides outstanding dividends and benefits to 11 not-for-profit community organisations. Ross steered its strategic direction and grew the asset base of the company leaving a strong and unique organisation that benefits the community. He is remembered on the wall of honour at Club Southside.

His advice was often sought from councils, politicians, businesses and other YMCAs and this was generously given and valued. During his involvement with the Y he raised the profile of the organisation and promoted the work and programs across many levels. His strong belief in child protection led to him advising the committee that introduced the Blue Card system to Queensland and set a high standard for other states to follow.

Although Ross retired from the position of Chief Executive of YMCA Brisbane in 2007 he remained heavily involved in specific project work and fundraising and continued to work many voluntary hours for the long term good of the Brisbane association.

He never lost his interest in its progress.

Image: Ross Melville. Credit: The Y.

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