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Opening of the Millie Phillips Wing, National Jewish Memorial Centre, Forrest ACT


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good morning, everyone.

It is a pleasure for Linda and me to be at the National Jewish Memorial Centre and with you all on such a significant occasion. 

Significant – because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the National Jewish Memorial Centre in Canberra and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ACT Jewish Community.

Significant – because the new wing honours the name of Millie Phillips. I’m informed that Millie was passionate about the Jewish community, Jewish education and Israel, and spent her life giving generously to a range of Jewish organisations.

And significant – because the new wing represents the continuation of vibrant Jewish life in Canberra and Australia, providing a multipurpose space for a diverse range of activities and events to members of the ACT Jewish community and their guests.

The National Jewish Memorial Centre also houses the Australian Jewish War Memorial. I would like to acknowledge the Australian Jewish Community’s long and distinguished record of service in our military forces. That service dates back to the Sudan Campaign of 1862.

Jewish Australians have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. The Memorial honours their sacrifice and service, and we will never forget them.

I was pleased to see that a portrait of one of the great Australians, Sir John Monash, an engineer and tactician with Prussian Jewish heritage, graces the foyer of this new wing.

As I said, the Millie Phillips Wing serves many purposes.

It is a place of worship.

Jewish children, youth and adults are educated here, by professional staff, to ensure their connection to – and knowledge of – their faith and heritage.

The Wing is a venue for life-cycle events, and for diplomatic, political and community functions, such as today’s event.

No less important, it also serves a cultural and social purpose. The Wing houses an English and Hebrew language library, exhibition spaces, and a museum which is set to be expanded to provide Holocaust remembrance and education.

Today’s opening of the Millie Phillips Wing marks the culmination of many years of dedicated effort by the ACT Jewish Community and is the result of the generosity of many donors, several of whom are here today.

To all involved – thank you. You have given the ACT Jewish Community and all Jewish people a wonderful, award-winning building and ensured that the legacy of Millie Phillips will be remembered and honoured by future generations.

It is now my great pleasure to open the Millie Phillips Wing at the National Jewish Memorial Centre.