Linda Marion Dessau, AC (born 8 May 1953)[1] is an Australian jurist, barrister, and the 29th and current Governor of Victoria since 1 July 2015.[2] She is the first female and the first Jewish holder of the office. She was a judge of the Family Court of Australia from 1995 to 2013.[3]

Early life

Dessau was born in Melbourne, Victoria, on 8 May 1953, 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

Dessau 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.

Dessau was appointed to the AFL Commission in November 2007.[6] She is a supporter of the Essendon Football Club, and in 1997 she started, and was the inaugural chair of, the Essendon Women's Network, which for more than a decade has maintained a strong presence 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]


Dessau 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 (Pétrus) and Harrods, which had originally been paid by the Victorian taxpayer.[10] In 2016, the level of expenses for capital works and ongoing maintenance requested by Dessau were alleged to be excessive, and a former Government House employee told the Herald Sun that the working environment there was "toxic".[11]

Personal life

Dessau is married to Anthony Howard AM QC, a former County Court Judge. They were married in 1982 and have two sons.[12]

Titles, styles and honours




  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. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  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. ^ Anderson, Stephanie (18 August 2016). "Victorian Governor Linda Dessau repays cost of expensive meals in London restaurants". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  11. ^ Coster, Alice; Hudson, Fiona (16 August 2016). "Claims of cost blowouts, toxic workplace at Victoria's Government House". Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  12. ^ "About the Governor". Governor of Victoria. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  13. ^ It's an Honour: Companion of the Order of Australia, AustralianGovernment, retrieved 6 August 2018
  14. ^ It's an Honour: Companion of the Order of Australia, AustralianGovernment, retrieved 6 August 2018
  15. ^ Joining HE Governor-General, Lady Cosgrove & the @stjohnaustralia leaders as a Dame of Grace in the Order of St John, Governor of Victoria, retrieved 4 May 2019
  16. ^ "Victorian Honour Roll of Women". Women Victoria – Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John" (PDF). Governor of New South Wales. Governor of New South Wales. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2018.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Alex Chernov
Governor of Victoria