IHRA Speech

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, the Bunarong people of the Kulin nation, and offer my respects to their elders past and present.


It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).


My name is Josh Burns, the Labor Member for Macnamara, one of the three co-chairs of this group.


The other co-chairs are my colleagues Julian Leeser MP, Liberal Member for Berowra, and Allegra Spender MP, independent Member for Wentworth.


Support for IHRA has always been a bipartisan endeavour.


Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard started Australia’s efforts to join the IHRA.


In 2019, under Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Australia became the 33rd member nation of IHRA.


Both major parties have since adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as have our state-level colleagues.


We have many distinguished guests here today, and I hope they will appreciate that time does not permit me to mention them all by name.


I of course welcome the Foreign Minister, Penny Wong and thank her for her support in such a busy parliamentary week. We are honoured to have you here.

I also welcome my friend, Israeli Ambassador, His Excellency, Amir Maimon and acknowledge Per Linnér of the Embassy of Sweden, as Sweden is currently the chair and host country of IHRA.


I am delighted we also have many more diplomatic representatives and Ambassadors here from IHRA member and observer countries. Far too many to name individually but your support is deeply appreciated.


I also welcome a number of my Parliamentary colleagues.


We are very pleased to welcome distinguished representatives of a number of Jewish community organisations.


Peter Wertheim and Ronit Gabriel of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry; Dr Bren Carlill of the Zionist Federation of Australia; Alissa Foster of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students; Gareth Narunsky from the Australian Jewish News; Avi Paluch and Pauline Rockman OAM of the Melbourne Holocaust Museum and IHRA delegation who will be speaking shortly; and Aviva Wolff of the Sydney Jewish Museum.


Next I welcome the seven Australian IHRA delegates in addition to Pauline Rockman we have Professor Emerita Suzanne Rutland OAM; Dr Andre Oboler; Dr Avril Alba; Dr Stephen Cooke; Dr Donna Lee Frieze and Suzanne Hampel OAM.


I also welcome Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Ms Lorraine Finlay.


Finally, we are grateful to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their assistance in organising this event, and I thank those DFAT officials with us today.


We meet at a critical moment in history.


As the last generation of eyewitnesses to the Holocaust passes from the stage, the task of promoting knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust, becomes all the more important.


We are seeing alarming signs of a resurgence of antisemitism and Holocaust denial in many parts of the world.


Memory of the Holocaust is being distorted and weaponised for political purposes by extremists of all kinds.


This is why the work of IHRA is so important, and why it is so gratifying that so many governments, NGOs, corporations and individuals – including all of you here today – are committing themselves to supporting that work through this Parliamentary friendship group.


It’s now my pleasure to introduce our first speaker, Lisa Thurin.


Lisa is the daughter of John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC, founders of Gandel Foundation.

Unfortunately, Mr Gandel was unable to join us today, on behalf of the IHRA friendship group we wish him well.


Lisa has been most closely involved in the activities of Gandel Foundation, in her role as the member of the Board of Directors for the past nearly 20 years.


In that time, she helped guide and grow the charitable activities of the family’s philanthropic entity to become one of the leading private family foundations in Australia.


Her own philanthropic interests span a broad range of areas including youth at risk, Jewish leadership, mental health and wellbeing – especially for young people and women at risk – and of course, Holocaust remembrance and education.


But the main reason we have invited Lisa to speak here today is because in 2021 the Gandel Foundation funded the Gandel Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey, which was recently published on the IHRA website.

The survey had more than 3,500 respondents and revealed that almost a quarter of all Australians aged 18 and over have little or no knowledge about the Holocaust.


So those of us working to improve Holocaust awareness in Australia have a lot of work in front of us.


I’d now like to ask Lisa to say a few words on behalf of the Gandel Foundation.

27 October 2022