Vale - Professor Margaret Kelaher

Vale - Professor Margaret Kelaher 1967-2021

Statement from Faculty and School

Dear colleagues,

We are saddened to share the devastating news that our much-loved colleague Professor Margaret Kelaher died as a result of an accident at home.

Margaret was our Head of Evaluation and Implementation Science at the Centre for Health Policy and was renowned for her world-leading contributions to health systems, policy and program evaluation. Her work spanned theoretical, methodological and applied contributions, focusing in areas of cancer policy and practice, health system safety and performance, disability and equity of access.

Margaret was particularly passionate about improving equitable access to high-quality healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. She earned numerous awards throughout her career, from an Australian Young Tall Poppy to an ARC Future Fellowship.

She joined what is now the Centre for Health Policy in 2000 and quickly distinguished herself as a scholar of note and an academic leader, holding the role of Centre Director from 2013 to 2016. Margaret was a mentor to many and a natural collaborator – team focused, generous with her time, strategic and always curious.

Colleagues will remember Margaret for her brilliance, her sense of social justice, her loyalty and her mentorship to junior staff. Those closest to her describe her as hilarious, self-deprecating, generous-spirited and warm. She will be sadly missed.

We send our deepest sympathy to Margaret’s son Max, her parents and her siblings, as well as her wide circle of friends and colleagues.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Jane Gunn
Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
University of Melbourne

Professor Nancy Baxter
Head of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

Statement from Evaluation and Implementation Science Unit

Margaret was a passionate researcher and dedicated educator.  Her work was unfailingly a demonstration of her values, exhibiting her commitment to addressing inequity, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.  She had a brilliant mind that always had her a few steps ahead of everyone else.   Her creativity and perceptiveness in addressing complex problems and her broad knowledge base led to her being able to draw out unique solutions.

As early career researchers, she gave us the freedom and independence to explore and grow as emerging researchers while providing support and guidance when we needed it.  She recognised her staff’s different strengths and was able to build on them in ways that contributed to the work while being guided by the interests of the individual.  She was particularly able to identify potential in her students, inviting them to work with her and providing mentorship as they began the next phase in their careers.

Many of us owe our career trajectories to her—particularly those of us who began working with her as research assistants and have gone on to begin or complete PhDs because of her encouragement and the generous opportunities she provided.  It is a testament to her leadership and dedication to the next generation of researchers to see our current cohort of research assistants who have recently begun their PhD journeys.

Margaret’s sense of style was legendary, including her love of fabulous shoes.  You often knew she was in the office before seeing her by hearing her infectious laugh.  She was quirky and fun while being kind and an incredibly hard worker.  Her absence from the School will continue to be deeply felt.

Written by Margaret's colleagues in the Evaluation and Implementation Science Unit in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

Evaluation and implementation Science Unit 2021

University of Melbourne Find an Expert Profile (Web Archive)

Google Scholar page

Memorial Kudos Board