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Jillian Segal appointed as first Australian antisemitism envoy

In response to the spike in antisemitic incidents since October 7, the Federal Government has announced a new position to fight hate against Jewish Australians.
Michael Visontay
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Andrew Giles, Jillian Segal and Anthony Albanesend Albo

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles (left), Jillian Segal and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the announcement (Michael Visontay)

Published: 9 July 2024

Last updated: 9 July 2024

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced a new position aimed at combatting antisemitism, appointing Jewish communal leader Jillian Segal to the role.

Segal, a lawyer and business executive, has been appointed Special Envoy to combat antisemitism for three years. She will take up the appointment immediately, flying to Buenos Aires this week to attend a meeting of the global network of special envoys and coordinators to combat antisemitism.

In announcing the role at the Sydney Jewish Museum this morning, Albanese said the role was "an idea whose time has come".

The role was created due to the "significant increase" in antisemitism in Australia since October 7, he said. "One of the things I have found quite shocking is the lack of knowledge about antisemitism and about where it leads."

"October 7 changed our world as well – and all over the world antisemitism has become normalised. This is very dangerous for us all," Segal told the media.

"In Australia, Jewish parents are worried about sending their children to school, Jewish artists, authors and musicians have been subjected to exclusion and shadow bans, Jewish members of the LGBTQ community have been excluded, and small business owners have lost their livelihoods.

"All this effects the vibrancy and cohesion of the community more generally. This is not the Australia we want."

Segal said although "there is no single answer to the problem of antisemitism, the creation of this role shows a determination by the government to confront this evil and to ensure that it does not erode the goodness that exists in our society".

She said the envoy role will require a national strategy; coordination between communities and all levels of government; education about what antisemitism looks like; and deeper engagement between Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

"But I am optimistic that between such measures and our proud Australian history of a tolerant multicultural society, that we can have a positive impact on this hatred and rebuild social cohesion."

The appointment follows an extensive campaign by The Jewish Independent and other communal organisations, which have been calling for the creation of a position to fight antisemitism since December 2023.

Australia, like many other countries, has experienced a marked growth in antisemitism since the Hamas massacre on October 7. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) recorded 662 antisemitic incidents in October and November 2023, compared with just 79 incidents in the same period the previous year.

In creating the role, Australia joins more than 35 countries including the US, UK, Canada and every member of the European Union in having a special envoy or coordinator dedicated to combatting antisemitism.

Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, told The Jewish Independent recently that Australia appointing a coordinator to combat antisemitism would be an "important sign" to the local Jewish community.

“We have a global network now of almost 40 envoys, we meet regularly. It's about time Australia joined the club and I look forward to it,” she said.

Segal has extensive experience on boards of government, commercial and non-profit organisations. She has been chair of the Sir John Monash Foundation and a board member of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, National Australia Bank and Garvan Institute of Medical Research, among others.

She also has extensive experience within the Jewish community, as immediate past president of the ECAJ and chair of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

In 2019, Segal was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to the banking and financial regulation sectors, to non-profit organisations, and to women.

The government had been planning to simultaneously create a position to combat Islamophobia, but has been unable to reach a consensus within the Muslim community about the right appointee.

ECAJ President Daniel Aghion welcomed the creation of the Special Envoy role and Segal's appointment.

“The Special Envoy will provide the Federal government with the research, evidence and advice it needs to inform the development of targeted and co-ordinated policies, legislative proposals and programs which will address antisemitism, and counteract the harms and social divisions it causes, and to assist with corresponding efforts by State and Territory governments.

“We are delighted that Jillian Segal AO has been appointed to this important position. She will bring deep knowledge of the issues and immense energy to the role, and we are confident that she will carry out her duties with integrity and distinction. We wish her every success in undertaking this vital work for the betterment of Australian society," he said.


TJI's Action Against Antisemitism campaign

Australia needs an antisemitism coordinator (TJI editorial)

TJI policy paper: Appointment of an antisemitism coordinator

New study shows five-fold increase in online antisemitism since October 7 (TJI research)


Antisemitism since October 7 – Australia and beyond

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.


  • Avatar of Ian Grinblat

    Ian Grinblat11 July at 09:07 am

    Is it reasonable for people who are critical of Israel to respond with antisemitism?
    Criticism of Israel is one thing, antisemitism is something else entirely – and it is alway unacceptable.

  • Avatar of Miriam Feldheim

    Miriam Feldheim9 July at 09:58 pm

    And what will the Special Envoy on antisemitism say about the atrocious behaviour of the Israeli Government which is a significant contributor to the rise in antisemitism experienced around the world since October 7; supporting settlers in the West Bank attacking Palestinian civilians with the aim of driving them out of the territory, and pursuing a war of revenge and conquest in Gaza with no plan for after the war? She will say very little I suspect. The rise in antisemitism in Australia cannot be separated from what is happening in the Israel.

  • Avatar of Ian Grinblat

    Ian Grinblat9 July at 10:15 am

    Oh Russel, if a non-Jew had been appointed, the criticism would be that he/she is a secret Jew.
    Although I believe that the appointment comes with tight boundaries and conditions, it is better to have than a Commissioner for combatting antisemitism and islamophobia. I also believe that Ms Segal has sufficient nous as a lawyer, having extensive experience working with government, to make this an effective position.
    Good luck, Jill!

  • Avatar of Russel Mills

    Russel Mills9 July at 03:08 am

    Oh come on, this lady is going to have to start everything she says with a reason she not biased.Good luck with people paying attention.

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