Leah Kloot

Leah Kloot is honoured for her contribution to community service and social justice.

Honour Roll

Leah Kloot was born in England and educated at universities in Scotland and England. During World War I, she met and later married a wounded Australian soldier. Coming to Melbourne in 1919 in a converted troopship with a fifteen month old son, and very pregnant with her daughter-to-be, the family settled in South Melbourne. Her husband worked as a printer for The Age.

As soon as the children were ready for school, Leah became involved with the school's Mothers' Club. Leah soon realised that, while each Mothers' Club did a worthwhile job for its own school, together they could lobby forcefully for reforms in matters concerning children. She founded and became the first President of the Victorian Federation of Mothers' Club. At the initiative of this Federation, the Safety Council and the Children's Cinema Council were formed.

Concerned with inner city youth, Leah developed the Richmond and Collingwood Opportunity Clubs, providing young people with a cut lunch that became known as the 'Oslo lunch' using bread from the Oslo bakery.

In 1937, she was a candidate for the State election. Her election brochure stated: I make no promises, because promises cannot always be kept, but I will do all in my power to develop: economic security, the scientific distribution of food, an adequate housing scheme, free education from kindergarten to university, a national health and insurance scheme. Some of the voters of the Albert Park electorate accused her of trying to take a man's job and did not support her.

As President of the National Council of Jewish Women of Victoria (1933-36), she was closely involved, in the late 20s and pre and post World War II years, with meeting migrants and refugees at Port Melbourne, providing hospitality and helping to settle people into accommodation and employment.

When the Kloot children left home in the morning, they could never be sure with whom, or with how many, they would be sharing their home and their dinner in the evening.