Norbert Schweizer Awarded OAM for Service to the Community
Sydney business lawyer Norbert Schweizer has been made a member of the Order of Australia in the General Division for his “service to the community through voluntary roles”.
The Governor-General today announced Mr Schweizer’s Medal of the Order of Australia award in recognition of his contributions to the Australian community – in particular his dedicated service to the care and support of those less able to fend or provide for themselves. On being informed about the award, Schweizer said “I am very humbled by this honour”.
When asked about what it was he enjoyed about “doing his part”, Schweizer – who has led a lifetime of volunteering – says it gives him a “wonderful sense of. If you don’t give your time and energy to make things better for others, you are living a fairly selfish life. If you can contribute to the welfare of others, then that gives you great satisfaction,” says Schweizer, who is the founding partner of Schweizer Kobras, Lawyers and Notaries.
Born in London, Schweizer arrived in Australia with his parents in January 1952. His parents survived the Holocaust and this experience played a significant role in his later commitment to supporting the more vulnerable members of the community and to fostering German-Jewish reconciliation. After being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, Mr Schweizer says it was his achievements during his tenure as president of the Emanuel Synagogue that he found most rewarding.
“The presidency of the Emanuel Synagogue has been my proudest achievement to date because I was part of the growth and vibrancy of that community,” says Mr Schweizer, who lives in Centennial Park. Although he has taken a step back from formal commitments with the Synagogue, Mr Schweizer says his passion for making things better for the Jewish community has not waned.
“It has always seemed to me that if you have a particular talent for something then you should employ that for the greater good. I haven’t made any great discoveries and am not in a position to make huge financial contributions to the organisations I support. What I do have is administrative and leadership abilities, and I believe that that talent should be properly utilised,” he says.
The 68-year-old business lawyer, who attended Sydney University from 1966-1971, spent over 20 years on the board of Emanuel Synagogue, the largest progressive Jewish synagogue in the Southern Hemisphere. Schweizer, whose wife Sonja is Swiss, also has close links to the Australian German Welfare Society and the Swiss Community Care Society.
Since the 1970s, Mr Schweizer has been actively engaged in a range of service organisations from the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children to the B’nai B’rith Retirement Villages and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). He has also worked closely on an honorary or not-for-profit basis with a number of Jewish, Catholic and Lutheran retirement villages, churches, schools and other community and welfare organisations.
Mr Schweizer’s experience of having a son diagnosed with schizophrenia more than a decade ago has also made him a passionate advocate for people with mental illness. Over the past decade, he has devoted considerable time to the Schizophrenia Research Institute and was instrumental in coordinating the institute’s successful merger with Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) of whichhe is now a director.