The enduring generosity and vision of the Smorgon family is transforming the lives of children in Australia and around the world through the Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund.
Victor Smorgon AC (1913-2009) was an industrialist and one of Australia’s most generous philanthropists. He immigrated to Australia from Ukraine in 1927, settling in Carlton North and establishing a kosher butchery with his family. Over time, the humble business grew to become an empire encompassing steel, paper, plastics, forestry and commercial property. Along with his wife Loti Smorgon AO (1919– 2013), the couple generously gave back to the community with significant contributions to medical and arts institutions.
This includes establishing the Victor and Loti Smorgon Chair of Paediatrics in partnership with the RCH and the University of Melbourne. Professor Julie Bines, paediatric gastroenterologist at the RCH, has held the position for the past 13 years. One of Professor Bines’ significant projects is as lead researcher on the Rotavirus Program at RCH campus partner, The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
“The aim of the Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund is to impact the lives of many, and that’s why we chose to support Julie and her incredible work on the rotavirus vaccine,” said Belinda Bardas, granddaughter of Victor and Loti Smorgon, Head of Philanthropy and Trustee of the family’s fund.
Rotavirus was discovered by RCH researchers in 1973. Highly contagious and resilient, the rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea, and is a leading cause of infant illness and death in developing nations. The creation of an affordable neonatal rotavirus vaccine, and the potential for this vaccine to be easily accessed globally, has the potential to save the lives of the world’s most at-risk children.
“Thanks to the support of the Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund, we’ve been working to help children of the world receive a safe and effective rotavirus vaccine. The aim of the RV3 rotavirus vaccine program is to prevent rotavirus gastroenteritis from the earliest possible opportunity – from birth. We have been so fortunate to leverage the Fund’s philanthropy to assist with support from others [including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] to further impact on global child healthcare,” said Professor Bines.
“Seeing what Julie has been able to achieve over the past 13 years is incredible and a fantastic example of the power of philanthropy. As the rotavirus vaccine reaches more children in developing countries, it will not only have a transformative impact on their quality of life, but be a step forward out of poverty for millions of families,” said Belinda.
Thank you to the Smorgon family for perpetuating their family legacy of philanthropy through the life-changing contributions of the Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund.