Linda Dessau

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

Linda Marion Dessau AM (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 formerly a judge of the Family Court of Australia from 1995 to 2013.[3]

Dessau was appointed to the AFL Commission in November 2007.[4] 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.[5]

She was appointed to the board of the Melbourne Festival, of which she became President in 2014.[6]

Family background

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, and they had four children, of whom Linda was the youngest.[7]

Personal life

Dessau was born in Melbourne, and 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 is one of five Jewish people to have served in a viceregal capacity in Australia, after Queensland governor Sir Matthew Nathan, New South Wales governor Gordon Samuels and governors-general Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Zelman Cowen.[8]

Since 1982, Dessau has been married to Tony Howard, a judge of the County Court of Victoria. They have two sons.[9]


Dessau was recognised for her service to the judiciary, particularly in the area of family law policy and practice, and to the community, when in 2010 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.[10]

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.


  1. "Welcomes" (PDF). Victorian Bar News. Spring 1995. 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. Barrett, Damian (21 November 2007). "League not fussed at Pratt's cartel connection". Herald Sun. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  5. Wilson, Caroline (20 October 2012). "Meet the AFL commissioners". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  6. "Linda Dessau named president of Melbourne Festival". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  7. Green, Shane (1 July 2015). "New Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau a first in more ways than one". The Age. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  8. Victoria’s first Jewish governor, The Australian Jewish News, 23 February 2015
  9. "Judge Anthony Howard". Governor of Victoria.
  10. "DESSAU, Linda Marion". It's an Honour. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
Government offices
Preceded by
Alex Chernov
Governor of Victoria
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