Poet and visual artist Melinda Smith grew up in country Victoria on the banks of the Murray and moved to Melbourne with her family in 1964. She was educated at Yooralla, Balwyn, for six years until 1978, and at Glen Waverley Special School from 1979 until 1980. Smith, who has cerebral palsy, purchased a Canon communicator in 1979, a device that enabled her to communicate with others easily. She considers this a turning point in her life.
Smith has worked as a primary school teacher's aide at Eastwood, and for Scope (formerly the Spastic Society of Victoria) in that organisation's Communication Resource Centre. She has also been President of the Australian chapter of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC).