Annie Wakeford (extreme left) and Norma May Mawson (second left) welcome the Victorian Minister for Housing, Wendy Lovell (cemtre) to the new Miller homes in Highton, 13 July 2011.
Alexander Miller: The unknown philanthropist and his legacy
Dr Jennifer Kloester, Dr Al McLean and Roy Hay
Alexander Miller (1842–1914) was an extraordinary man whose legacy lives on to this day. Arriving from Scotland as a child in the 1850s, he settled in Geelong and made a very successful career as a businessman, with interests throughout Victoria. Late in life he began to construct a number of houses for people, particularly women, who had fallen on hard times. At his death in 1914 he left a very substantial sum to set up a trust to continue the work he had begun. Today, in partnership with the Office of Housing of the Victorian Government and Wintringham Housing Limited, the trustees of the Alexander Miller Memorial Homes provide homes for disadvantaged people throughout the state, honouring Miller’s vision.
Our account reveals more about an intensely private man than has been known before and should contribute to his being recognised for his role in transforming the lives of many of his fellow citizens. The discretion within broad guidelines he allowed to his executors and trustees enabled them to adapt his vision to changing circumstances through depression, wars and rising community expectations. This account also demonstrates the value of the relationships between the personal action of private individuals and those of concerned organisations and government in achieving effective socially beneficial outcomes today. This century-old initiative has evolved into a model for the continuing achievement of the goals Miller sought to realise in his lifetime.
Jennifer Kloester, G Alwin McLean and Roy Hay, Alexander Miller and His Enduring Legacy, Sports and Editorial Services Australia in association with the Trustees of the Alexander Miller Estate, Teesdale and Melbourne, 2011, was launched by the Victorian Minister for Housing Wendy Lovell at a new set of 34 Miller Homes in Highton on 13 July 2011. Copies of the document are available from the Office of Housing.