By Justin Flynn
Since growing up on a family farm near Horsham, Lyn Mulligan has had a passion for helping others.
Lyn’s sister was a quadriplegic, which meant the whole family simply become accustomed to doing their fair share of helping.
Now firmly entrenched in Ocean Grove, the 86-year-old was awarded an Order of Australia on the Queen’s Birthday last week.
“It was a home where the whole family helped looked after her,” Lyn told the Voice.
“I grew up in a very caring family. I came from a Christian family, but they were always open minded.”
The passionate refugee advocate had a career as a surgery nurse and helped start the Ocean Grove Barwon Heads hospice in the 1970s.
Lyn was also a foundation committee member of the Dove opportunity shop and has given sustained service to Oxfam Ocean Grove, the Uniting Church, Rural Australians for Refugees, Bikes for Humanity, Bellarine Community Health and Girl Guides.
“I really like people,” Lyn said.
“The whole population here in Ocean Grove and around is caring – it’s a very caring community.”
Lyn had a hip replacement last November, which has slowed her down, but only slightly.
“I’m doing things at 86 that I still want to do, but I don’t drive anymore,” she said.
One of the most endearing stories Lyn has to tell is of an Afghan refugee, Fahim, who eventually settled locally.
Fahim, a devout Muslim, was so touched by Lyn’s compassion to his family, that he has been taking her to church every weekend for the past two years, driving from Point Lonsdale to Ocean Grove.
“I haven’t got any great talents,” she says.
“I’m not an artist, I can’t sing, I’m not a musician and was never any good at sports.
“I just love people. Ordinary people these days are doing so much and it all adds up.”
A small table in Lyn’s living room is adorned with photographs of refugees that have come to her for help, but she insists it’s them who have made her life better, not the other way around.
“These people have enriched my life so much and they are from different cultures, races and religions,” she says.
With four children, 10 grandchildren and a Vietnamese god-daughter, Lyn has been nominated for an OAM before, but finally accepted.
“These days I’m very fortunate,” she says.
“I keep busy. I still write letters to politicians – polite ones mind you – and try to help in any way I can.”