Professor Melanie Oppenheimer

BA, Dip. Ed (UNE); M. Litt (UNE); PhD (Macquarie University)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61417 219006

Areas of expertise

  • Historical Studies 2103
  • Biography 210304
  • Australian History (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History) 210303

Research interests

My research interests include the role of voluntary organisations and voluntary action in times of war and peace; the history of volunteering; gender and humanitarianism; with a special interest in the Red Cross Movement. Her ARC funded projects include soldier settlement schemes post WWI; a history of the 1970s Australian Assistance Plan; Meals on Wheels and sustaining volunteering in Australia; and a history of the League of Red Cross Societies. Melanie's centenary history of Australian Red Cross, The Power of Humanity, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. The book, co-authored with Bruce Scates, The Last Battle: Soldier Settlement in Australia, 1916-1939 was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. She has co-edited a number of books including (with Jeni Warburton) Volunteers & Volunteering (2000); (with Mandy Paul & Margaret Anderson) SA on the Eve of War (2017) and (with Erik Eklund & Joanne Scott) The State of Welfare (2018). Melanie is currently working on a biography of Helen and Ronald Munro Ferguson, titled 'The Imperial Power Couple'. She is also lead CI on an ARC funded Discovery Project, 'Resilient Humanitarianism: The League of Red Cross Societies, 1919-1991' and co-CI on a new LP 'Developing a National Volunteer Roadmap'.


Melanie has held positions at Flinders University (Chair of History, 2013-2021); the University of New England (2009-2013); and the University of Western Sydney (1995-2009). She was appointed Visiting Chair in Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo (2018-19); Dean of the School of History and International Relations at Flinders University (2016-17) and was appointed to the ARC College of Experts (2016-18). Melanie is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and was elected President of the Australian Historical Association for a two-year term (2020-22). In November 2021, Melanie was appointed by Volunteering Australia to the National Strategy for Volunteering Council and she chairs the Research Working Group. In December 2021, Melanie was invited to join the Editorial Board of the Australian Dictionary of Biography for a five-year term, and she also co-chairs the ADB's Women's Working Party.

Researcher's projects

2019-2023 ARC DP1901101171, Lead CI 'Resilient Humanitarianism: The League of Red Cross Societies, 1919-1991'

2021-2024 ARC LP200301043, (Griffith), Co-CI, 'Developing a National Volunteering Roadmap'

2021 National Library of Australia Fellowship, 'Imperial Power Couple: The Political and Personal Lives of Helen and Ronald Munro Ferguson'.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  13 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers