Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water.

Born on the 5th of August,1926, Margaret Gwen Hardy was the very first Commissioner of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) and was appointed in 1975, a major victory for women at the time. This was the first time in the 84 year history of the organisation.

Hardy had also been a Lilydale Councillor and went on to become the first female Shire President. Along with her work commitments as part of the Board, Hardy was the wife of Dr. Bill and had three children, two sons and a daughter. Next door to her home in Mt Evelyn was her husband’s surgery, where Hardy also worked part-time as a Manager. Hardy was also involved with the Lilydale High School Mother’s Club, she was the President of the Mt. Evelyn Environment Protection and Progress Association, on the Advisory Council of Monbulk High School and was the Secretary of the Lilydale Citizens Advisory Service at the time.


This staff newsletter highlights the historically significant achievement of Cr. Gwen Hardy becoming the first female commissioner to work at the Board in 84 years. This captured achievement highlights women's career advancement at the MMBW and within the Victorian public service, whilst having historic and social associations with the many women's rights movements in the 1970s.