Australian Women's Register

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National Council of Jewish Women, Victoria Section (1927 - )

Religious organisation, Lobby group, Philanthropic organisation, Membership organisation and Women's Rights Organisation
Alternative Names
  • Melbourne Council of Jewish Women
NCJW Victorian Section Inc.: Email Phone 9523 0535 The Eva Besen Centre 131-133 Hawthorn Road Caulfield Vic 3161 Website


Established in 1927 by Dr Fanny Reading MBE, the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic) provides community support to vulnerable people, promotes a harmonious multicultural society, works to advance the status of women and supports projects in Israel. Inspired by Jewish values, the NCJWA (Vic) aims to create a better world for women.

Programs the NCJWA (Vic) runs include:

  • Caring Mums, a home-based, non-denominational free service that provides emotional support to mums of newborn babies and women during pregnancy.
  • Empowering Single Jewish Women and Effective Relationship Programs, which aim to support single women to manage the emotional upheaval post separation and promote the development of positive relationship skills.
  • Support for the elderly programs.
  • Support for Women from the former Soviet Union.
  • Interfaith Activities.
  • Status of Women activities, which involves a commitment to promoting human rights through equality, access and equity for women and girls within the Jewish and broader communities.
  • Support for Israel fundraising activities.
  • Opportunity Shop activities.


The Melbourne Council of Jewish Women (from 1929 the National Council of Jewish Women, Victoria Section) was established in 1927 at a meeting held at the home Fanny Reading's parents (Reading had established the first Council of Jewish Women in New South Wales in 1923). Within a week the Council boasted 80 members. The founding president was Marie Patkin.

A Junior Section of the Council was established in 1929, which held numerous social events (after WWII this re-established as the Social Set and later Alma). From the outset, the Council raised money for numerous local and international Jewish causes and relief efforts, and concerned itself with migrant welfare work. Since the establishment of Israel, the Council has supported numerous programs for the new Jewish State.

During WWII, they contributed to the broader Australian war effort in a similar fashion to most women's organisations of this time. In the years after the war, much of the Council's effort was direct towards assisting with the settlement of new migrants. There were also numerous fund raising activities and other social services such as Meals on Wheels, and support for those with disabilities. From the 1970s, issues relating to the status of women generally have also been a focus.

Over its long history, the Council has been involved in an enormous array of issues, as well as charitable, educational and social activities. The Council continues today as a non-profit, voluntary, organisation for Jewish women, acting for their advancement and for social justice generally.

Sources used to compile this entry: Newton, Marlo Leigh, Making a Difference: A History of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2000, 342 pp.

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National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124