Who is Jillian Segal, the woman appointed the nation’s first special envoy against anti-Semitism?

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
Jillian Segal is Australia’s inaugural special envoy to combat anti-Semitism. 
Jillian Segal is Australia’s inaugural special envoy to combat anti-Semitism.  Credit: DL SS/AAPIMAGE

The Jewish woman Anthony Albanese appointed to combat rising anti-Semitism has had a long career in law, philanthropy and corporate Australia and is driven by idealism.

The Prime Minister appointed Jillian Segal AO as the nation’s inaugural special envoy at the Sydney Jewish Museum on Tuesday amid reports that anti-Semitism had risen about 500 per cent since Hamas militants invaded Israel on October 7 last year.

Ms Segal will travel to Argentina next week to attend the World Jewish Congress and will engage with Jewish Australians, the wider community, discrimination experts and the government.

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Ms Segal is the former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and ECAJ said her appointment would bring knowledge and energy to the role of special envoy.

“We have seen antisemitism rear its ugly head on Australian campuses, in schools, in the media and social media, in the arts and culture sectir and other parts of society,” said ECAJ President Daniel Aghion.

Ms Segal is currently chairman of the General Sir John Monash Foundation, the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.

She is also a director at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, a trustee of the Sydney Opera House and a board member at Rabobank Australia, the Grattan Institute and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Ms Segal studied law at the University of New South Wales in the 1970s before later serving as the university’s deputy chancellor between 2010 and 2019.

“The faculty (UNSW Law School) was small and intimate, and everybody was committed to those ideas of equality, openness and making the law work for society,” Ms Segal has said.

“It was a focus on law, lawyers and society — what can we do with the law to make a better society?”

Ms Segal’s idealism has underlined her long and successful career.

After graduating she worked for 10 years, eventually becoming a partner at law firm Allens Linklaters before joining the Australian Securities & Investments Commission as commissioner and deputy chair for five years.

Ms Segal has served as the Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman, a board member of the Australia Council and a Federal Remuneration Tribunal member.

She also served as a non-executive director at the Australian Securities Exchange between 2003 and 2015 and the National Australia Bank between 2004 and 2016 and was an Australian War Memorial Council member for three years.

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