Workshop: “The Legacy of the Nazi persecution of people with disabilities”

Convenors: Professor Paul Komesaroff, Professor Leon Piterman AM and Dr Piers Gooding

Panellists will examine the specific effects of the Holocaust in creating and perpetuating physical and psychological disability.

The panel will also consider challenges experienced by those who have come to Australia from other war-torn countries. It will raise the possibility that the marginalisation and erosion of personhood of persons with disability in our own society and how the continuing acceptance of cruel treatments—of indigenous people, asylum seekers, the aged, people with dementia and members of LGBTIQ communities—draws on insidious precedents established during the Holocaust.


Professor Paul Komesaroff, physician, researcher and philosopher at Monash University, Executive Director of the Global Reconciliation and President, Adult Medicine in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Professor Leon Piterman AM, son of Holocaust survivors, is a Professor of General Practice at Monash University.

Dr Piers Gooding, Research Fellow at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and Law School, the University of Melbourne.

Dr Jane Tracy, Director, Centre for Developmental Disability Health, Monash Health, and Adjunct Senior Lecturer, General Practice, Monash University.

Dr Paul Valent, Psychiatrist, with an interest in the psychological effects of the Holocaust, co-founded and past president of the Australasian Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.

Dr Natalie Tomas, daughter of a Holocaust survivor, a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Philosophical Historical and International Studies at Monash University..

Dr Ida Kaplan, Principal Consultant of Practice and Research, Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, and Research Fellow in Psychological Sciences, the University of Melbourne.

Mr Josef Szwarc, Policy and Research Manager, Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture.

Ms Hannah Aroni, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Former judges’ associate in the Court of Appeal and the Family Court, and a disability advocate for disabled adults.