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Nina Bassat AM

Nina Bassat is a prominent leader in Victoria's Jewish community.

Honour Roll

She was the first woman to head the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the second woman to be President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Born in Lwow, Poland in 1939, Nina and her mother survived the Holocaust and came to Australia in 1949 as refugees after two years in a displaced person's camp in Germany. They settled in Melbourne. Nina studied arts and law at the University of Melbourne, married and had three children.

In 1980 she started her own legal practice. For 20 years Nina has been on the National Council of Jewish Women Victoria and served as its Vice-President from 1984-1995. As head of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria in 1996, she initiated the Taskforce for Jews from the former Soviet Union, established the Demography Committee, which produced the current demographic study of the Jewish community in Victoria, and set up Noar, a youth group for dealing with the problem of street parties.

Since the mid 1980s Nina has also been on the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia and has chaired the Constitution Committee, the Overseas Jewry Committee and the Anti Semitism and Racism Committee. She is on the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the official elected organisation and authority of the Australian Jewish Community, serving as its second woman President from 1998-2001. As President, Nina set up the National Restitution hotline to deal with all restitution enquiries and facilitated restitution claims. She led a leadership mission to Israel in January 2000. In 2002, Nina was invited to be a board member of the Monash University Centre for Jewish Civilisation Foundation. In 2001, Nina was made the honorary patron of the 16th Maccabean Team in recognition of her 'outstanding contribution in assisting victims of the bridge tragedy at the XV Maccabiah in Israel in July 1997'. In 2000, the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia presented her with the Woman of Achievement Award.

Nina is very low key and self-effacing about her achievements and leadership roles.

"The fact is that 1.5 million Jewish children died in the Holocaust. Those that are left have had to assume some level of responsibility. People have asked me to become involved and do things and really there aren't a lot of us to turn to, I just couldn't say no," she says.