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Obituary: Concettina (Tina) Millar


Cite as: (2007) 81(3) LIJ, p. 30

(15/4/1944 – 4/2/2007)

A vibrant personality and strong supporter of women in the law, Tina Millar was a well-loved and respected member of the profession.

At just 16 years of age Tina began her legal career as a receptionist with Michael O’Phelan in La Trobe Street, Melbourne.

Mr O’Phelan, recognising a talent when he saw one, encouraged Tina to take up law and she began the then articled clerks course at RMIT.

She was admitted to practice in April 1979 and that same year joined husband Bruce as a partner in the firm.

In 1984 when Michael O’Phelan retired, they closed the city office and moved to East Keilor where the practice became known as Millars.

Some time afterwards Tina joined the North-West Solicitors Association where she assumed an executive role.

In 1995 she became the association’s representative on the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) Council where she served on numerous committees, including as chair of two.

On 10 May 2000 Tina was elected LIV president and became only the second woman to lead the LIV in its long history.

Tina served with distinction and at the completion of her presidential year she remained a member of Council for the next three years.

While involved in all of the foregoing Tina found a few other things to do:

  • she became a councillor of the City of Keilor and served from 1987 to 1990;
  • she joined the Keilor Rotary Club and became its first female president in 1998/99.
  • she remained a member of the North-West Solicitors Association;
  • she became a member of the Victorian Women Lawyers group;
  • she became the honorary solicitor for the Greek Association of Keilor;
  • she became the honorary solicitor for the Italian Association of Keilor and its vice president.

Tina also became a member of the Board of Examiners for Legal Practitioners and remained a member during all of her trials and tribulations.

Her last public appearance was in Decem-ber last year at a special dinner in honour of the service of four members of the Board – namely, Gail Owen (the first woman LIV president), Bill Lally, Simon Begg and Tina. Tina served on the Board for nine years, and as with everyone else, without fee.

The pride of Tina’s life was her daughter Natalie, or was it her husband Bruce? Whichever be the case, one of the proudest days of Tina’s life was the day she moved Natalie’s admission to practice as a barrister, solicitor and officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria. That was on 1 March 1996. Natalie is a successful practitioner at Gadens Lawyers.

In July 2000 Tina received an Italian presidential award, Premio Italia nel Mondo “Prize: Italy in the World” – which is awarded only to those who contribute to keeping Italian culture alive and have a successful career in their adopted country.

On 9 April 2003 Tina was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Governor-General. In his letter of congratulation the Prime Minister said: “This distinctive Australian commemorative medal marks the achievements at the commencement of a new century of a broad cross-section of the Australian community including your contribution to Australian society. Australia is proud that it has many outstanding people who have helped make our country and the wider world a better place”.

In May 2003 Tina was announced as one of two winners of the [inaugural] Victorian Women Lawyers Achievement Awards, recognising her professional excellence and efforts to promote and encourage other women. Tina was recognised for her work with the LIV, for her community work in the north-western suburbs, for her involvement in the Italian community and for the success of her firm.

Tina got the double that night as her daughter Natalie won the encouragement award, a rising star award I guess, for showing the qualities of professional excellence and support of other women.

In August 2003 Tina chose a new career path and was appointed a conciliator at the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service where she also served with distinction. Unfortunately, soon after her appointment Tina was diagnosed with the illness which she fought so bravely for more than three years.

Tina leaves a great legacy. For her life and contribution, the legal profession in this state has much to be grateful.

I should mention that Tina occasionally engaged in recreational pursuits, including from time to time in the sport of kings.

Tina and Bruce were partners with a group of lawyers that raced a horse called Live Albert. The partners included Leo La Fontaine, our good friend the late Mick Casey, Pat Dalton, Mary O’Connor, Paul O’Connor and yours truly. Live Albert was generally a slow conveyance but he did manage to put together seven wins including at Sandown, Flemington and Ballarat. Tina loved it. And didn’t we all.



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