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Zakharov, Alice Olive (1929 - 1995)

19 March 1929
Kew, Victoria, Australia
6 March 1995
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Parliamentarian and Teacher
Alternative Names
  • Hay, Alice Olive (birth name)
  • Zakharov, Olive (also known as)


Olive Zakharov was elected to the Senate of the Parliament of Australia in 1983 as a representative for Victoria. A member of the Australian Labor Party, she served until her death in 1995.


The Hansard record of the proceedings in the Australian Senate on the afternoon after the death of Alice Olive Zakharov nee Hay consists entirely of the condolences, delivered over more than two hours. The tributes delivered in the House of Representatives also filled an entire sitting.[1]

A graduate in Arts (1971) from the University, qualified teacher and member of the Australian Psychological Society, Olive Zakharov had, during her early years worked as a pathology assistant, mail officer, shop assistant, waitress and fruit-picker. She brought up three children as a single mother from the time her youngest child began school, becoming the Student Welfare Co-ordinator at Montmorency Secondary College in 1969.

Olive Zakharov had been active in the Australian Labor Party for many years before standing for the Senate in 1983, when she was elected, despite being placed fifth on the Party ticket. She was, until 1993, one of only two Victorian women in the Senate. The tributes paid on her death refer to her dedication not only to causes but to the individuals they affect: the Commonwealth car drivers and the staff of Members and Senators reflect this. They specifically asked for their condolences to be registered in the parliamentary record.

Senator Zakharov's concerns were wide-ranging and consistent: they were issues concerned with social equality. She was active in initiatives on sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. She was a member of the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament and of World Women Parliamentarians for Peace. Her longstanding commitment to peace led to her being appointed to represent Australia as a delegate to the 1987 Vienna Peace Conference. The following year in the USSR she witnessed the first destruction of a nuclear missile as the representative of Australian pacifists. She chaired a number of committees, most notably the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training, and served on many others, including the Committees on Community Affairs, Environment, Recreation and the Arts. Perhaps most ironically, in view of that organisation's interest in her own and her husband's political activities at the University, she was a member of the Joint Committee on ASIO.

A memorial at the corner of Liardet and Lalor Streets, Port Melbourne celebrates her life.[2]

[1] Australia. Parliament. House of Representatives. 'Condolences: Zakharov, Senator Alice Olive'. Hansard. 7 March 1995: 1657-1678; Australian. Parliament. Senate. 'Condolences: Senator Alice Olive Zakharov'. Hansard. 7 March 1995: 1443-1468.


Rosemary Francis

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