Linda Dessau

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Her Excellency The Honourable
Linda Dessau
29th Governor of Victoria
Assumed office
1 July 2015
Monarch Elizabeth II
Premier Daniel Andrews
Lieutenant Marilyn Warren
Preceded by Alex Chernov
Personal details
Born Linda Marion Dessau
(1953-05-08) 8 May 1953 (age 64)
East Melbourne, Victoria
Nationality  Australia
Spouse(s) Tony Howard (m. 1982)
Children 2
Residence Government House, Melbourne
Education St Catherine's School, Toorak
University of Melbourne
Profession Jurist, barrister
Website Governor of Victoria

Linda Marion Dessau AC (born 8 May 1953)[1] has been the Governor of Victoria since 1 July 2015.[2] She is the first female and first Jewish holder of the office. She was a judge of the Family Court of Australia from 1995 to 2013.[3]

Early life[edit]

Dessau was born in Melbourne, the youngest of four children. Her father, John Dessau, arrived in Melbourne from Poland in 1929. At first he took on factory work, but later he became a businessman. He married Sybil, who was born in Melbourne.[4]

Since 1982, Dessau has been married to Tony Howard, a judge of the County Court of Victoria. They have two sons.[5]

Education and career[edit]

She was educated at St Catherine's School, Toorak, matriculating at the age of sixteen. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the University of Melbourne in 1973 as its youngest law graduate. She worked as a solicitor from 1974 to 1978, and as a barrister from 1979 to 1995, specialising in family law and commercial litigation.

She was appointed to the AFL Commission in November 2007.[6] A supporter of the Essendon Football Club, Dessau started and was the inaugural chair of the Essendon Women's Network in 1997, which for more than a decade has claimed a strong hold in the grand final week calendar.[7] She was appointed to the board of the Melbourne Festival, of which she became President in 2014.[8]


She is one of five Jewish people to have served in a viceregal capacity in Australia, after governors-general Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Zelman Cowen, and governors Sir Matthew Nathan (Queensland) and Gordon Samuels (New South Wales).[9] In August 2016, Dessau was embroiled in an expenses scandal, which saw her personally repay the expenses of lunches at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and Harrods, which had originally been picked up by the Victorian taxpayer. [10] During her time in office, Government House Melbourne has been accused of being a "toxic workplace" and expenses regarding capital works and ongoing maintenance requested by Governor Dessau have come under scrutiny. [11]


Dessau was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1994, and travelled to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to study strategies employed to reduce delay within the court system. She was recognised in 2010 for her service to the judiciary, particularly in the area of family law policy and practice, and to the community, when she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.[12] In 2017, as is common practice with Australian vice-Regals, Dessau was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the people of Victoria through leadership roles in the judiciary, to the advancement of economic ties and business relationships, and as a supporter of charitable, sporting and arts organisations.[13]


  1. ^ "Welcomes" (PDF). Victorian Bar News. Spring 1995. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  2. ^ White, Alex (1 July 2015). "Victoria’s first female Governor Linda Dessau sworn in". Herald Sun. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Justice Linda Dessau retires from the Family Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia, 21 June 2013.
  4. ^ Green, Shane (1 July 2015). "New Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau a first in more ways than one". The Age. Retrieved 21 March 2016. 
  5. ^ "Judge Anthony Howard". Governor of Victoria. 
  6. ^ Barrett, Damian (21 November 2007). "League not fussed at Pratt's cartel connection". Herald Sun. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Wilson, Caroline (20 October 2012). "Meet the AFL commissioners". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Linda Dessau named president of Melbourne Festival". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Victoria’s first Jewish governor, The Australian Jewish News, 23 February 2015.
  10. ^ [1], "ABC News", 18 August 2016.
  11. ^ [2], "Herald Sun", 16 August 2016.
  12. ^ "DESSAU, Linda Marion". It's an Honour. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia" (PDF). Australia Day 2017 Honours List. Governor-General of Australia. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Alex Chernov
Governor of Victoria