A Tribute to Doreen Stoves AM PSM JP
Jul 19, 2021

A Tribute to Doreen Stoves AM PSM JP


25 May 1950 – 5 July 2021

Doreen Stoves made a unique and outstanding contribution to the community sector through her distinguished career. Across her working life, Doreen worked tirelessly to adapt service provision in response to community need.

During her 25 years at DHS, she became a strong and formidable advocate for better funding and services and was a practical visionary. Her work to develop a range of social and recreational activities for socially isolated and marginalised people was pioneering and unique in Victoria during that time. It was a forerunner for formalised support services that were to be funded by the Victorian Government.

Having known Doreen through her long and distinguished career at DHS and Doncare, John Leatherland PSM is well versed to comment on her exemplary leadership and passion for vulnerable children. When she was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1994, he said of her:

“I do not know of anyone who has made a greater impact on and contribution to children and young people under the care of our department”

Doreen’s commitment to disadvantaged children, families and adults was not confined to the professional landscape. She spent her life campaigning for better outcomes for children who faced adversity and had a long history as a foster parent. Together with her dearest friend, Maureen, she looked after more than 40 children and took Permanent Care Orders for two boys and a sibling group of sisters. She was a proud and doting mother and grandmother.

Doreen made a very significant contribution to the policy development of a new range of family services following the introduction to the Children, Youth and Families Act, 2005 and was a tireless advocate for young people in State care over the years. In 2016, Doreen addressed the Victorian opening of the Home Stretch Campaign with a powerful perspective on foster caring.

“We know that birds throw their fledglings out of the nest when they can fly and feed themselves, as human beings and supposed good parents we would never do that; so why is the State as a supposed good parent prepared to do exactly that?”

Doreen Stoves AM PSM JP

Doreen also worked in private practice as a Family Therapist and Trauma Counsellor for many years working mainly with victims of domestic violence. In 1994 she was instrumental in creating a service to support women affected by domestic violence by encouraging two small services to amalgamate, establishing the Eastern Domestic Violence Service. Doreen organised a house from which the service could operate where it remained for 11 years and facilitated the funding of further positions. EDVOS is now the largest specialist family violence service in the Eastern region, supporting over 9,000 women and children annually.

In 1994, Doreen was awarded a Public Service Medal for the pivotal and unique contribution she made to the redevelopment of Allambie and her service to DHS, in particular her exemplary leadership.

“She always led by example, I have not met a leader in my career with greater resilience and emotional literacy”

John Leatherland PSM

Doreen commenced as CEO of Doncare in 2001. At the time, the organisation’s annual income was $303,000. Within the first four years, the budget had tripled. Thanks to Doreen’s leadership, Doncare remains a powerful mechanism for promoting social inclusion through volunteerism. She leaves an incredible legacy behind her and the unique phrase “volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation”– a sentiment we all share.

Doreen was an avid networker and a persuasive campaigner, highly regarded in the Eastern region for developing partnerships and reference groups. As CEO, she made an enormous tangible contribution, working passionately to implement a diverse range of innovative programs to support the disadvantaged members of the community. Some of these services include the HOPS parenting support program, Chinese Family Playgroups, and most notably, Doncare’s Domestic Violence Advocacy and Support program. The suite of clinical services included therapeutic support groups for women recovering from domestic violence; specialist intake and referral as well as specialist family violence counseling. Together with Carmel O’Brien OAm, the iMatter initiative was conceived in the prevention space and the DAWN mentoring program was developed to support women in recovery.

“Doreen is at her best when faced with any human predicament, bringing all these talents to bear so that those involved feel protected, assisted, confident and hopeful, as well as heard and understood.”

Carmel O’Brien OAM

Doreen volunteered to lead clinical debriefing in response to community emergencies including the East Doncaster Balcony collapse and the Warrandyte bushfires. In 2012 she arranged temporary accommodation for an uninsured couple whose home was significantly damaged and supported the wife when her husband died and arranged a working bee to restore the home.

In 2013, Doreen was awarded a Member of the Order of the Australia (AM) for her outstanding achievements and significant contribution and service to the community. In 2016 she received the prestigious Rotary International award for “excellence in humanitarian service”, an award given to non-Rotarians who live the Rotary ideals of “service above self”.

Doreen’s drive, passion, and tireless commitment to providing equity to the most vulnerable in our community have been an undeniable inspiration to everyone at Doncare.

Sadly, restrictions now place all of Doncare's staff and volunteers apart during a time of grief when instinctively we would normally hug, hold hands and simply be together. We extend our sincere condolences to Doreen’s family and to the broader community. Rest in peace.