Collingwood Notables Database
Social activist, councillor and visionary politician
Andrew McCutcheon, a Methodist minister, architect and social activist, played a central role in the politics and development of the City of Collingwood in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a local councillor and mayor in Collingwood before becoming a prominent member of John Cain’s Victorian Labor government in the 1980s.
Andrew was born in Malvern in 1931 and followed his father, Sir Osborn McCutcheon, in studying architecture at the University of Melbourne. After completing his architecture degree, he enrolled in theology. In 1957 he was ordained into the Methodist Church and in the same year married Vivienne, a social worker with similar values.
When he and Vivienne returned from three years working and travelling overseas, Andrew was assigned the parish of Collingwood, based at the Gipps Street Methodist Mission Church. They lived with their growing family in the local public Housing Commission flats, the walk-up flats of the Dight Street estate. Andrew became part of a group of like-minded theologians working in the inner city who combined political advocacy with their pastoral roles. Andrew’s experience as an assistant at George McLeod’s church in the Gorbals area of Glasgow inspired the direction of his community-based ministry in Collingwood.
By the end of the 1960s Andrew’s career changed focus from the local church to broad social reform and planning and from 1969 to 1982 he directed Urban Design and Planning Associates, which worked on projects across Australia.
He joined the Labor Party and stood for Collingwood Council in 1965. He was elected to the Barkly ward and remained a Councillor until 1982. His vision was to use the role to set an agenda to improve the lives of the local people. These included many migrants from Greece and Turkey and later refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia. Andrew assisted them with their specific needs and also encouraged them to nominate representatives for Council.
In his first seven years on the Council, it was difficult for Andrew to push through a reform agenda, so changing the representation on the Council became a high priority. With the addition of Caroline Hogg, Solange Shapiro and Allan Hokin to Council, many initiatives were achieved. These included the establishment of an innovative and inclusive regional public library service with the City of Richmond. It was named after Frank Hardy’s fictional suburb of Carringbush. The Collingwood High School had been burned down and, with support from most councillors, plans were made for the site to become a community school for primary and secondary students and community-based activities. McCutcheon Way, adjoining the school, was named after Andrew to acknowledge his contribution to the development of the school. Support was given to a forward-thinking community health centre with a strong research focus, and the first social worker to be employed by a Victorian council, Edith Morgan, was appointed. Most important for Andrew was the leadership he provided Council to resist the Housing Commission’s thrust to dictate the terms for setting up new estates with little regard for social needs in the locality. He campaigned against the destruction of inner urban communities and was an active leader in the protests against the F19 (Eastern Freeway) in the late 1970s.
Andrew and Vivienne’s housing history in Collingwood was diverse and innovative. They moved from the Dight Street public housing to a new development at the corner of Gold and Page Street, Clifton Hill. This housing development aimed to demonstrate the possibility of providing individual quality units at the same low cost as the high rise public flats being built at that time. A former manse site was bought from the Presbyterian Church; one unit was retained for the church and the other nine sold to private owners. Designed by Albert Genser, each unit was three storeys high and included a private courtyard at the back and garden space at the front. There was also one two-storey section of two flats. Soon after, the Ministry of Housing offered a similar design without admitting to the superiority over high towers. The Page Street development remains a cohesive community with a number of long-term residents.
Andrew and Vivienne later bought and renovated a large Victorian house in Gold Street Clifton Hill and then were among the first to renovate a disused factory into family accommodation, in Kent Street, Clifton Hill. This was designed by Peter Elliott and awarded Best Renovated Industrial Building.
In 1975-6 Andrew became Mayor of Collingwood. He and Vivienne led the centenary celebrations of the City of Collingwood, creating an interest in local history, including history walks and oral history. This led in time to the establishment of the Collingwood Historical Society. (See the publication In Those Days: Collingwood Remembered)
In 1982 Andrew won for the Labor party the previously safe Liberal state seat of St Kilda and moved away from Collingwood to live in his new electorate. Over the following ten years in the Cain and Kirner Labor governments he served in eight portfolios from Planning and Housing to Attorney General. His wide-ranging contributions included a focus on social justice and, as Attorney General, he was involved in the establishment of community-based legal services and local dispute resolution mechanisms.
In 1992 Andrew retired from politics, but continued to lead a very productive life, becoming a wine grower in the Mornington Peninsula, and later becoming an exhibiting artist. Well into his 80s he was active in the area of indigenous reconciliation and served on the boards of management of organisations such as Sisterworks, which assists refugee women.
He died after a short struggle with motor neurone disease. A State Memorial Service was held on 30 January 2018 at the St Kilda Town Hall.
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|29 September 1931||Malvern, Victoria|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Vivienne Penington||1957||Louise, Kirsten, Philip (deceased), Nicola|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|9/56 Dight Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|193 Gold Street||Clifton Hill||Extant|
|231 Gold Street||Clifton Hill||Extant|
|6 Kent Street||Clifton Hill||Extant|
|Gipps Street Methodist Church|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|16 December 2017||Caulfield South, Victoria|
This biography is largely drawn, with thanks, from Obituary 30 Jan 2018 The Age and from notes supplied by Vivienne McCutcheon.
Howe, Trendyville; McLeod, Only one way left.
Hansard 6 February 2018, Condolences