Aus Day honourees do us proud

Linda Dessau speaks at Maccabi Australia’s 90th anniversary event. The Victorian Governor has been made a Companion of the Order of Australia. Photo: Peter Haskin

JEWISH Australians have figured strongly in this year’s Australia Day Honours across a broad range of endeavours.

Of the 727 civilian honourees, more than 30 are members of the community, among them Victorian Governor Linda Dessau and rock music legend Jimmy Barnes, accounting for more than four per cent of all recipients.

Dessau was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for her eminent service to Victorians in her judicial roles, as well as business efforts and support for charities, sport and the arts.

She told The AJN, “I was greatly honoured, particularly knowing how many wonderful Victorians and Australians would be alongside me.”

Cold Chisel frontman Barnes, who became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), thanked others for helping him in his achievements, “not only my fellow musicians and road crews, but also the public who have come along to share and celebrate Australian live music with me”.

Family members of beloved jazz composer and performer Allan Zavod, who passed away from cancer in November last year, paid tribute to their husband, son and father, who was informed shortly before his death that he was to be recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

His 93-year-old mother Annie reflected: “My only sadness is that he won’t be here in person for us all to see and feel his happiness.”

It does not happen often, but Isaac and Susan Wakil are husband-and-wife recipients of AO honours.

They were each awarded their honour for their service to the community in an array of philanthropic initiatives, and as supporters of charitable, educational and cultural organisations.

In 2015, they founded the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation and have donated nearly $46 million to the University of Sydney.

Awards were made to Jewish Australians who have excelled and pioneered in medicine, health, law, education, commerce and economic development, community leadership, and other fields.

Among the other honourees this year was Vedran Drakulic, chief executive officer of Gandel Philanthropy and a member of the selection committee for the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators.

He received an OAM for services to the community through a range of charitable organisations.

Full coverage in this week’s AJN.

PETER KOHN