Jews honoured on Australia Day

samuel berkovic 1

JEWISH Australians were noteworthy again this year among high achievers who have been recognised in the Australia Day honours.

Of 683 awardees, 2.35 per cent were Jewish, a high rate of achievement for Australia’s Jewish population, which represents only 0.4 per cent of the general population.

Melbourne professor Sam Berkovic has been made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for his research into the genetics behind epilepsy, while NSW professor David Celermajer became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to medicine in the field of cardiology, as a clinician and researcher.

Four new Members of the Order of Australia (AM) include Victorian optometrist Joseph Chakman for his work in widening access to government eye care programs, Justice Stephen Kaye of the Victorian Supreme Court for his role in legal affairs, particularly in fostering indigenous social justice and cultural awareness, Sydney volunteer Garry Browne for his significant service to the community as a supporter of a range of social welfare, youth, Jewish and environmental organisations and Northern Territory human rights activist Dawn Lawrie recognised for her work across a wide range of public activities.

Among the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) recipients were Queenslander Richard Magnus for his service to the Jewish community in the Sunshine State and Sydney’s Lilly Skurnik for her trailblazing work for vision-impaired people.

March of the Living pioneer Sue Hampel of Melbourne was also awarded an OAM for her service to the community, through the promotion of understanding and tolerance, as was Sydney’s Tamara Winikoff, executive director to the National Association for the Visual Arts, for her work in that field.

Melbourne businessman, philanthropist and community leader Jack Gringlas, former owner of CNG Engineering Group, received an OAM for service to the Jewish community, education and through his philanthropy, as did Sydneysider Michael Shapiro for service to the community of Rose Bay.

Melbourne Jewish day school supporter Tom Jacob was recognised with an OAM for his charitable contributions to the King David School, Mount Scopus Memorial College, and Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah Colleges.

Anne Reid, vice-president of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia in NSW, was also honoured with an OAM for her wide variety of work advancing Jewish women.

Sydney Jewish Museum volunteer guide Olga Horak OAM, who is also a board member of the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants Inc, reflected a typically self-effacing response to the honours. “I was surprised and I don’t really know whether I’m ready to have such an honour.”


Sam Berkovic has been made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for his research into the genetics behind epilepsy.