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The Hon Judith Cohen AO

Judith Cohen's career was characterised by her determination, dedication and her commitment to fairness and justice for all.

Inducted:
2002
Category:
Honour Roll

Judith Cohen was a lawyer, a Commissioner of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, a founding member of the National Council of Jewish Women's Foundation and served on several statutory committees and councils. Born Judith Selig in 1926, she went to both the University of Sydney and the University of Victoria. Admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1950 she practiced there until 1953, the year of her marriage to Sam Cohen, a brilliant young lawyer who was deeply committed to social justice. Sam Cohen was later a Labor Senator and Judith constantly supported him in his career.

Admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor to the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1953, she practiced law in Melbourne from 1953-1955; 1962-1966 and 1970-1975. In 1975 she was the first woman appointed as a Commissioner of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In 1980 she became the Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and in 1989 Deputy President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. She retired in 1991.

In addition to her distinguished career as a jurist, Judith Cohen was active in a broad range of community roles. A member of the National Council of Jewish Women since 1953, she assisted in the inception of the National Council for Jewish Women Foundation in 1977 and was thereafter a Trustee; a Trustee of Norman Smorgon House Foundation and the Norman Smorgon House Scholarship Fund (1986-1996); she has also been a member of the Victorian Women Lawyers Association since 1953.

Judith Cohen's statutory appointments included: Chairperson, Federal Costs Advisory Committee (1990-1991), Member of the Melbourne Advisory Committee, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (19731976), Member of the Advisory Committee in the Social Sciences National Library (1982-1984), Member of the Council of the National Library (1984-1990), Member of the Council of the Victorian University of Technology (1990-1993) and Chair of the General Insurance Claims Review Panel (1991-1996). The Honourable Judith Cohen was awarded the Order of Australia in 1992.

Her daughter Susan Cohen later became a Justice of the County Court.

Reviewed 25 May 2022

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