Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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    Sue Doobov, courtesy of Private collection. Used with permission..


  • From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra

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Doobov, Sue (1943 - 2012)


Brisbane, Queensland
5 August 2012
Jerusalem, Israel
Community Leader, Office worker and Youth worker
Alternative Names
  • Gans, Suzanne


Sue Doobov moved to Canberra in 1965 from Brisbane. She was a leader of the Jewish community in Canberra, as well as the Executive Officer of the Council on the Ageing ACT at a time when it assisted in the establishment of many service organisations. Sue is recognised as the instigator of the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Canberra. She retired to Israel in 1998.


Sue Doobov was the daughter of Siegfried (Fred) and Leoni (Lee) Gans, who had escaped Nazi Germany in 1937. She had an older brother, Alfred, who survived her.

She grew up in Brisbane and was initially educated for office work. She led the Betar Zionist youth movement in Brisbane and studied in Israel at the Machon leMadrichai Chutz l'Aretz (the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad). In Betar she met Mervyn Doobov, whom she subsequently married, in 1964, and with whom she moved to Canberra. Her two children, Ilana and Arieh, were born there, in 1967 and 1969.

She and Mervyn became very involved with the small Jewish community in Canberra and served in many roles within it, including president. Sue was mainly active in the women's side of the community and in educational activities. For many years she prepared girls for bat mitzvah and led the women's volunteer Chevra Kadisha. She was known for her interest in helping elderly members of the community as well as being a by-word in hospitality. For her contributions to the Jewish community, she was awarded a medal in the Order of Australia, in 1998, a distinction she shared with her husband.

After a period at home caring for two young children, Sue decided that it was time to continue her formal education. She had not completed secondary education in Queensland, but decided to try for a university degree. Without matriculation, the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now the University of Canberra) required her to pass a minimum of four subjects in her first year. She succeeded and completed a degree in Sociology and Economics in five years.

She then became the Executive Director of the Council on the Ageing ACT, from 1982 to 1994. Under her leadership, the Council was active in establishing other organisations to provide services for older people. Some of these organisations were the Abbeyfield Society (a not-for-profit community housing provider), Community Options (a not-for-profit, community-based organisation providing care and support to older people, people with disabilities, their families and friends), Handy Help, Home Help and Respite Care. The University of the Third Age (U3A) has recognised a public meeting called by Sue as the starting point for its activities in Canberra. In September 2011, she was guest of honour at the 25th Anniversary Celebrations for U3A.

The family moved to Israel in 1998. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2000 and subsequently underwent a number of operations and extensive treatment, all without complaint and with fortitude. She managed to visit Australia for the U3A celebrations less than one year before her death in August 2012.

Sources used to compile this entry: From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra, Australian Women's Archives Project, February 2013,; Private communications between Mervyn Doobov and Ann Tündern-Smith, and between Paul Flint, Executive Director, Council on the Ageing (ACT) and Ann Tündern-Smith, October 2012.

Digital resources

Sue Doobov
Private collection. Used with permission.


Ann Tündern-Smith

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

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