Australia Day Honours List

January 26, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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J-Wire congratulates those members of the Australian Jewish community honored for their special endeavors over and above their regular line of duty….




For service to the community through leadership and board executive roles with a range of Jewish organisations, and to business.

David Balkin

President, NSW Jewish Communal Appeal, 2005-2011; Ex-Officio Member of several
Sub-Committees including Fundraising, Planning, Status, Building and Capital, and Investment.

Executive Member, 2004-2011.

Founding Chairman, Planning Committee, 1996-2005; Member, ongoing since 1996.

Chairman, Allocations Committee, 1996; Member, 1993-1996.

Inaugural Chairman, Burger Aged Care Centre, ongoing since 2005; joint venture between Montefiore Home and JewishCare.

Vice-President, Moriah War Memorial College, 1992-1993; Executive Member, 1987-1993; Member, Finance Sub-Committee, 1986-1993; Treasurer, 1988-1991.

Member, Business Council of Australia, 1993-1995; Committee Member, micro-economic reform; Committee Member, review of a national grid on electricity pricing and capacity on the Eastern Seaboard.

Director, McKinsey & Company, 1993-2005; Member, Shareholder’s Council, 2000-2003 (Board of Directors elected by the Directors globally); Principal, 1987-1993; Member, Principals Committee, 1996-2000 (elects new Directors or senior partners globally and evaluates and compensates Principals globally); Associate, 1980-1986.

South African-born David Balkin told J-Wire that he arrived in Australia in 1980 and that he had spent time working in the U.S. where he attained an MBA at Harvard. He added: “I became a naturalised citizen in 1983 but now I truly feel Australian.”


Mr SIMON DAVID MORDANT, Darling Point NSW 2027

Simon Mordant

For service to the arts and to the cultural environment of Australia through philanthropic and executive roles, and to the community.

Chairman, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), since 2010; Chairman, MCA Foundation, 2007-2010; Vice-President 1991-1999; Board Member and Chair of Finance Committee, 1996-1999.

Member, Commissioner’s Council, Australia Venice Biennale, since 2009.

Deputy Commissioner, 2011 Australian Venice Biennale exhibition.

Appointed Commissioner, 2013 Australian Venice Biennale exhibition.

Supporter and acquisition patron, Art Gallery of New South Wales, since 2002.

Director and supporter, Sydney Theatre Company, since 2008; current Member, Finance and Investment Committee.

Board Member, Garvan Research Foundation, since 2010.

Board Member, Bundanon Trust, 1997-2002.

Director, Wharton Executive Board Asia, since 2011.

Deputy President, Federal Government Takeovers Panel, 2000-2011.

Philanthropic contributions include:

–  Funds the ‘Creative Youth Initiative’ of Mission Australia, 2003-2009.

–  Supporter, Beyond Empathy, since 2005; arts program.

–  The Mordant Visual Art Award for the British Council, Australia, 2004-2005.

–  The Mordant Visual Art Scholarship at Cranbrook School, 2004-2009.

–  Museum of Contemporary Art.

–  Art Gallery of New South Wales.

–  Sydney Theatre Company.

–  Venice Biennale.

Joint Chief Executive, Greenhill Caliburn, since 1999.

Simon Mordant told J-Wire that he was “very surprised and humbled”.


Professor FRANK JOHN VAJDA, Kew Vic 3101

Professor Frank Vajda

For service to neuropharmacology, particularly in the speciality of epilepsy as a clinician and researcher, to medical education, and to the Jewish community.

Founder and Director, Australian R Wallenberg Centre for Clinical Neuropharmacology, St Vincent’s Hospital, 1997-2004; former Head, Neuropharmacology.

Founder and Director, Australian Pregnancy Register, since 1999; involved in fundraising and sponsorship for the Register.

Co-Author, Antiepileptic Drugs – Pharmacology and Therapeutics (with Emeritus Professor Mervyn John Eadie AO), 1999.

Published over 350 papers, both nationally and internationally.

Current Honorary Consultant Neurologist, Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Consultant Neurologist, Austin Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Department of Neurology and Department of Pharmacology, Austin Hospital, 1974-1989: Senior Clinical Pharmacologist, 1974-1986; Founding Member, Department of Neurology, 1978.

Honorary Clinical Pharmacologist, Queen Victoria Medical Centre, 1980-1986.

Member, International Registry of Antiepileptic Drugs and Pregnancy, International League against Epilepsy, since 1999.

Former President, Epilepsy Society of Australia, in the 1990s; Foundation Treasurer,
1986-1990; a regular Speaker at Annual Scientific Meetings; a major contributor to the establishment of the Society.

Voluntary Member, Committee of Management, National Epilepsy Association of Australia, since 1982.

Clinical Evaluator, Therapeutic Goods Administration, 1988-2000.

Member, Australian Association of Neurologists.

Member, Australian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Involved in the establishment of the Australian Society for Study of Brain Impairment, in the late 1970s.

Voluntary Contributing Editor, The Epilepsy Report, since 2003.

Current Professorial Fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne; Researcher, for many years.

Professor of Clinical Neuropharmacology, Monash University, 2005-2008.

Director and Chairman, Free Wallenberg Australia Committee, for 29 years.

Awards/recognition include:

Appointed Knight 1st Class (honorary), Royal Order of the Polar Star, Sweden, 2002.

Professor John Vajda says he owes his life to the legendary Raoul Wallenberg. He told J-Wire: “I arrived in Australia as a 14-yr-old migrant…a survivor from the ashes of the Holocaust. The award is a wonderful gift to me and a crowning achievement of which I am very proud. It thrills me to be officially recognised by my country  and it is a symbolic issue fot the honour of those righteous people who risked all to save Jews.”


Professor GARRY JAMES WALTER, East Lindfield NSW 2070

For service to medicine in the field of adolescent mental health, to medical education, and as a contributor to professional publications.

Professor Garry Walter

Member, Expert Group on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.

Advisory Board, SANE Australia.

Member, numerous state and national Committees, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

Victorian Medical Practitioners’ Board.

Involved with the global project to counter the stigma and discrimination associated with schizophrenia, World Psychiatric Association, 1998-2001

Member, Ethics Committee, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Member, International Steering Committee, National Child and Youth Mental Health Framework, Canadian Health Commission.

Ministry of Health, New Zealand, 2000-2002.

Area Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service, since 2006.

Director, Rivendell and Area Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Services, Sydney South West Area Health Service (Eastern Zone), 2001-2006.

New South Wales Child and Mental Health Subcommittee, Mental Health Program Council, New South Wales Health.

Staff Specialist Psychiatrist, Rivendell Hospital, 1996-2002; Inpatient Director, 1998-2000.

Senior Staff Specialist, Eastern Zone, Sydney South West Area Health Service, 2003-2006.

Chair, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Sydney, since 2005; Clinical Associate Professor, 2003-2005; Clinical Senior Lecturer, 2001-2003; Clinical Lecturer, 1996-2001.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, since 2009.

Editor, Australasian Psychiatry, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, since 2000.

Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, since 1999.

Member, Editorial Board, Case Reports and Clinical Practice Review, since 2001.

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of ECT, since 2002.

Member, College Publications Committee.

Has written around 300 scientific articles, papers and book chapters including 3 chapters in the Oxford Textbook. Pediatrics Psychopharmacology.

Editorial Advisory Board, e-textbook, International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions.

Editor-at-Large, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Awards/recognition include:

Recipient, ‘College Citation’, for his “remarkable contribution to the College and the profession of psychiatry through his exceptional and tireless work as Editor of Australasian Psychiatry, and as a leading investigator, educator, administrator and clinician”, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2009.

Professor Garry Walter told J-Wire: “It is a delightful thing to happen for a host of reasons. It focuses attention on the important subject of mental health and brings credit to those who have worked in the field over the years and to their families who supported them. The Jewish community could well share this achievement.”



Anne Williams

For service to medicine, as a perinatal and infant mental health specialist, to medical education, and through contributions to professional organisations.

Medical Unit Head, Helen Mayo House, since 1987; and Director, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Services, Women’s and Children’s Health Network, South Australia, since 1995.

Clinical Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide, since 1995.

Senior Clinician, General Practitioner teaching, Mental Health Services, SA, since 1991.

Service to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists include:

–  Member, Ethics Committee, 2001-2008.

–  Board Member, Australasian Psychiatry, since 2001.

–  Chairperson, SA Branch, 1998-2003.

–  External Examiner, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2011.

–  Member, Committee for Training, 1993-1995.

President Elect, Australasian Branch, Marce Society, since 2011; for the prevention and treatment of mental illness relating to childbirth.

Co-Chair, Screening Group, Commonwealth Government Expert Advisory Committee for Antenatal Guidelines, Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Council, since 2008.

Member, beyondblue National Perinatal Mental Health Action Plan Implementation Group, since 2007.

Chairperson, Training Committee, beyondblue National Action Plan project, 2006-2007.

President, NIFTeY (SA), since 2008; National Initiative for the Early Years.

Member, Strategic Implementation Committee, Mental Health Strategy, SA Department of Health, 1998-2003.

Board Member, ANZ Journal of Family Therapy, 1980-1995.

Member, Professional Practices Committee, Marriage Guidance Council, 1986-1990.

Dr Williams told J-Wire that it was a wonderful honour and that she was “delighted and thrilled”. She added: “It is exactly 21 years since my father George received  an AM for services to the teaching of engineering on Australia Day in 1991.   He died in November 1994 (born 1910 in Budapest).   The University of Adelaide was his huge love, and he continued working there until he died.”


Mr DAVID WITTNER, Toorak Vic 3142

David Wittner

For service to business, particularly footwear retailing, to professional organisations, to a range of charitable and medical research groups, and to Rotary.

Chairman, Wittners Australia Pty Ltd (Wittner Shoes), since 1966.

Board Member, Victoria Division, Australian Retailers Council, 1996-2006.

President, Footwear Retailers Association of Victoria, for 3 years; Board Member, for
16 years.

Victoria Committee Member, Family Business Australia, 1998-2007.

Active Member, Australian Institute of Company Directors, since 2005.

Board Member, International Specialised Skills Institute, since 1997.

Board Member, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund, 2002-2005.

Board Member, Baker Medical Research Institute, 1992-2001.

President, Rotary Club of Melbourne, 1979-1980; Vice-President, 1977-1978; Director,
1970-1972; active Member, since 1964.

Deputy Chairman, Host Club Committee for the Rotary International World Convention, Melbourne, 1993.

Founding Member, Rotary Club of Melbourne Committee Foundation.

Board Member, NRMA Victoria, 1992-2001.

Fellow, Australian Institute of Company Directors.

David Wittner is on a cruise ship and could not be reached. A member of his family told J-Wire: “We are very proud”.



Dr Colin Benjamin

For service to the community through roles with social welfare organisations, and to business.

Director-General, ‘Life. Be in it’ International, since 1993; Director, from 1983.
Co-Chairman, ‘Life. Be in it’ Australia Ltd, since 2007.
Director, ‘Life. Be in it’ Health Promotion Institute, 2011.

Director, Victoria Branch, Australian Association of Social Workers, since 2011.
Founder and Chairman, Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, 2009-2010.
Former Chief Executive Officer, Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, 2007-2010.
Member, Association of Professional Futurists.
Federal President, Australian Social Welfare Union, 1976.
Federal President, Australian Association of Social Workers, 1975.

Executive Director, Victorian Council of Social Service, 1973-1975.
Director of Education and Welfare, City of Sunshine, 1969-1972.
Senior Social Worker, Sunbury Mental Hospital, 1966-1969.

Deputy Director-General, Department of Employment and Training, Victoria, 1980-1982.
Director of Regional Services, Department of Community Welfare Services, 1977-1979.
Director of Research and Social Policy, Department of Social Welfare, 1975-1976.

Chairman, Marshall Place Associates, since 2004.
Chief Executive Officer, The Horizons Network, since 1990.
Director, Futures Division, Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, 1983-1989.

Dr Col Benjamin told J-Wire that his father Eric Benjamin had been awarded an OAM in 1988 for services to Social Welfare. He added: “I am proud to continue the tradition. When parliamentarians get busy talking about “turning the boats around” they should realise what contribution refugees have made to Australia.”

Dinah Danon

Mrs DINAH DANON, Rose Bay NSW 2029
For service to the community through the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia.

National Vice-President, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NCJWA), since 2006; current Director; Member, Board of Governors, 2000.
President, NSW Division, 1999-2005; Vice-President, 1998; Life Member, since 2010; Member, since 1990.
President, Chapter Aviv, B’nai B’rith, 1995 and 2005; Member, since 1984.
NCJWA Representative, Jewish National Fund, 2000; Member, Blue and White, 1961-1964.
Board Member and NCJWA Delegate, Wolper Jewish Hospital, 1999-2005.
NCJWA Delegate, National Council of Women; supporter, Social Justice and Interfaith Program.

Dinah Danon arrived in Australia in 1951 from her native Egypt. She told J-Wire: “My heart was thumping. I knew nothing about it so it came as a bit of a shock. My friends must have done their homework and this is a humbling reward after 40 years of cummunity work.”


Mr HAROLD FINGER,  Point Piper NSW 2027
For service to the community through a range of Jewish organisations.

Harold Finger

Current Co-Chairman, Marketing and Communication Committee, Campaign Cabinet, Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal (UIA).
Life President, UIA NSW Board of Governors, since 2007.
President, UIA NSW Division, 2002-2007; Chairman, 1998-2002; NSW Campaign Chairman, 1993-1997; Chair, Business and Professional Division, 1993; Chair, Young Leadership Division, 1990-1992; Co-Chair, Trendsetter’s Division, 1980-1987; volunteer, since 1976.

Board Member/State Zionist Council of NSW.
Representative, NSW Jewish War Memorial, since 2000.
Active Member, Sydney Communal Security Group, since 2005.
Board Member, Sydney Jewish Museum, 2000-2001; Member, Building Committee, 
Board Member, Moriah College, 1984-1993; Chair, Building Committee.

Co-Managing Director, Waige Group, since 1979; supporter, Work Ventures, 1984-2009.
Supporter, Australian Foundation for Disability, 1984-2009.
Founder, Harold R Finger and Co. Architecture Firm, 1978-2007.
Associate Member, Australian Institute of Architects, since 1978.

A tireless worker for UIA, Harold Finger was in Israel when J-Wire spoke with him. He said: “It’s quite incredible. This is the only place I wanted to be when the this news broke. You don’t plan to do these things…you do it because you are passionate about the cause.” Finger was in his room at the Dan Panorama in Haifa overlooking the beach. He added: “I can imagine the “Exodus” attempting to land here all those years ago. I wish my father, who survived the Holocaust, was alive to share this day with me.”

Mrs JOSETTE GOSTIN, Glen Iris Vic 3146
For service to the community through a range of Jewish organisations.

Josette Gostin

Federal President, Women’s International Zionist Organisation Australia, 2004-2010; State President (Victoria), 1989-1997; Member, since 1969; ; Honorary Secretary, 1989-1997.
Delegate, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, since 2004.
Delegate, Zionist Federation of Australia, since 2004.
Vice-President, Zionist Council of Victoria, 1989-1997.
Vice-President, Women’s Division, United Israel Appeal, 1989-1997.

Jo Gostin told J-Wire: “This is not only rewarding and thrilling, it is a credit to the community…but it remains hard to come to terms with. I am very proud.”


Dr BENGT (Ben) KORMAN, Yokine WA 6060
For service to the community, particularly through the Holocaust Institute of Western Australia.

Dr Ben Korman

Founder and President, the Holocaust Institute of Western Australia, since 1990.

Vice-Patron, Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Dr Ben Korman told J-Wire: “I am very pleased although the award reflects the organisations and the people with whom I have worked. We have local survivors acting as guides in the Holocaust Institute and we focus our resources in bringing the message of the Holocaust to pupils from years 10-12. For a while the Perth community had to contend with the activities of Jack van Tongeren and his followers and out activities certainly contributed to countering this revisionist’s messages to the people of W.A.”


Late of Woollahra NSW 2025
For service to the community through a range of Jewish organisations.

Founder, Haberman and Kulawicz Fund and Jewish Communal Appeal, 2003.

Sabina van der Linden-Wolanski

Volunteer, ‘Courage to Care program’, B’nai B’rith, 1999-2011.
Life Governor, supporter and Member, Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home, until 2011.
Patron (sponsor), Montefiore Home’s Holocaust Awareness Program, 2006-2007.
Financial supporter, ‘March of the Living’, 2003-2011.
Holocaust survival spokesperson, Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe opening, 2005.
Volunteer and supporter, Together for Humanity Foundation.

Co-Author, Destined to Live, 2008.

Council Member, Voiceless, 2010-2011.

Mrs Van Der Linden-Wolanski died on 23 June 2011.

The late Sabina van der Linden-Wolanski’s partner Kjeld Hansen told J-Wire: “It’s such a pity she couldn’t be here to learn this wonderful news. It represents a very important recognition and for me it remains a great honour to have been part of her journey for 35 years.”


Mr YEHUDI BLACHER, Caulfield North Vic 3161


Yehudi Blacher

For outstanding public service in the instigation, promotion and implementation of innovative reforms in public administration.

 Over his 30 years’ distinguished service in the Victorian Public Service Mr Blacher has delivered significant improvements in the structure and services of local government, greater State Government support for the community sector, and greater integration in planning for land use and transport. He has also been instrumental in improving responsiveness to industry and the community on the planning system while pioneering new ways of thinking about how government works, some of which have evolved into national benchmarks. Mr Blacher was also notable for playing a critical leadership role in the successful delivery of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Yehudi Blacher told J-Wire: “You don’t expect these things for working within your profession. I am very proud.”







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