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Harold Mitchell AC 13/05/1942 – 10/02/2024

12 February 2024

It is with great sadness that ELTHAM College acknowledges the passing of Harold Mitchell AC, a College founder, past parent, grandparent and College Life Member. We extend our deepest sympathies to Harold’s family and large network of friends and colleagues.

Ruth McIntosh, 'My Red Sock Day - Harold Mitchell AC, 2015'. Oil on linen.


Harold is widely respected for his innovations across a number of industries, and his vision informed the establishment of ELTHAM College, the first major independent secular school in Australia. His legacy is deeply embedded in the DNA of the school.

It is particularly poignant that this statement is released on 12 February. On this day 50 years ago, Harold and his fellow founders saw their vision come to life with the commencement of teaching at ELTHAM College.

A man known for his great generosity and philanthropy, in 2000, Harold launched the Harold Mitchell Foundation to make a positive and sustainable difference in education, health and arts.

Chair of ELTHAM College, Jim Grant, remembers, “He had an energetic and infectious attitude to life and his impact was felt widely. Harold was a key player in the founding of ELTHAM College and remained a welcome member of our community ever since. 

“Harold gave steadfast and generous support to many charities and institutions. His philanthropic ethos and love of the arts saw him as a very generous donor to the school, including providing major funding for the Harold Mitchell Performing Arts Centre.”

In honour of his ongoing philanthropic support to the College, the music building at ELTHAM College was named the Harold Mitchell Performing Arts Centre in 2015 and Harold’s portrait, painted for the Archibald Prize, hangs in the foyer.

ELTHAM College Principal and CEO Richard Lisle said, “ELTHAM College has flourished as a result of the vision and generosity of its founders. Harold’s contribution to the school across many years is significant, impacting on successive generations of students. His presence is felt in our College values, which our students and staff embody in their daily activities at the College.”

Harold was instrumental in the conceptualising the City Campus and its success over time. He was also a key founder of the Melbourne City School in 2010. Melbourne City School was the first and only school in Melbourne’s CBD at the time.

Harold was also generous with his time and insight. Former College Principal Simon Le Plastrier observes, “In my early days at the College Harold was a great mentor to me, helping to guide some of the decision making of the time. He came to the school on a number of occasions to meet with College student leaders, spending a significant amount of time with these groups over the years.”

In the Australia Day Honours of 2004 Harold Mitchell was made an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia, and in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2010, he was appointed a Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia, then Australia's highest civilian honour.

The ELTHAM College community mourns Harold’s passing with great sadness, and gratitude for his vision and enduring generosity.