National Board and Directors

National Board

Melinda Jones

Melinda Jones


Melinda Jones an independent scholar, feminist human rights lawyer, disability advocate and Jewish educator. She’s the author of 11 books, over 50 peer-reviewed academic journal articles and many other publications.  She’s engaged in research and social action towards justice for all vulnerable people through law and policy development. She presently has 4 major areas of interest:

  1. The roll-out of Australia’s NDIS and its potential benefits and pitfalls for people with disabilities
  2. The problematic relationship between mental health and intellectual disability
  3. Gender and children’s health rights – in particular involving law and policy around LGBTI children and the question of the human rights abuse of intersex children
  4. The potential value of Judaism to the lives of people with disabilities.

In an earlier life, Melinda taught law and political science at Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe and, most recently, the University of New South Wales. She was a Senior Lecturer in Law, the Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Journal of Human Rights and the Director of the Australian Human Rights Centre. She has undertaken a number of government and non-governmental consultancies and projects and continues to be involved in NGOs concerned with women’s rights, discrimination and social justice. 

Melinda Jones’ Acceptance Speech


Rebecca Burrows

Rebecca Burrows

Rebecca has long history of involvement in the Jewish Community from a youth spent in Hineni (including being the Melbourne and Federal Rosh Hineni), Vice President of the ACT Jewish Community (in 2006-7) and as a member of the College Council of Bialik for the last 8 years. She also has extensive Board experience having held Board positions at Bialik, The ACT Jewish Community, Little Doers (Charity Fun Run) and 3 corporate Boards – DFE Holdings/Mail Plus and Clik Collective.

She’s a graduate of the AICD Company Directors Course and is currently chair of both the Audit and the Marketing sub committees at Bialik. Rebecca is a highly experienced senior executive with Marketing, General Management, Commercial and Operations expertise. Such experience has been gained in Australia, UK and high potential growth markets in Asia, Middle East and South America. This experience has been gained at Shell International working in global markets leading sales and marketing functions for growth; and at Australia Post, playing a key role in the Group transformation from a postal business to a customer centred eCommerce business.

Rebecca has been a Member of Australia Post Management Committee since November 2013 (top 50 leaders in company); Chair of Australia Post Customer Advisory Group 2018 – current; Member of Australia Post Top Executive Talent Programme – highest potential 12 GM leaders 2020; State Enterprise Leader Victoria – April 2015 to present (represent Australia Post Group in media, with staff and stakeholders); Inaugural participant TEN Programme – development programme for top 10 High Potential Female Leaders, 2013; Inaugural participant HORIZON Programme – high potential female leadership programme for General Management population, 2014. She was the Winner of Monash Marketing Awards for Excellence – 2001, Shell Vice Presidents Award (globally) for sales and marketing leadership and change management 2006 and was a Finalist of the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards (Private Sector) 2017.

Rebecca has many ideas for how she can further the work of the NCJWA – in particular to engage her generation more broadly and to raise the profile of Jewish women in our community and beyond.

Dr Mel Drinkwater

Dr Mel Drinkwater

Mel Drinkwater is a feminist, medical practitioner and bioethicist.  She is passionate about gender equality and equality of opportunities in the workplace, the prevention of domestic violence, and the plight of Agunot. She is an active member of the Masorti Jewish community and a previous Co-Chair of Limmud Oz. 

Mel is excited to join the National  Board of the NCJWA and is looking forward to helping increase awareness and involvement of the younger members of the community around the important work the NCJWA does.  She is also looking forward to helping continue the important advocacy work done by the NCJWA around issues affecting women not just in the Jewish community, but also in the wider Australian and international communities.

Alla Melman

Alla Melman

Alla has been involved in many Jewish and other community organisations over the years, from Hineni participation in her youth, to assisting with young adult programming at Emanuel Synagogue, coordinating events for the Renewal group at Emanuel synagogue, as well as programming and logistics roles for Limmud-Oz.

More recently she was a volunteer with Sydney Friendship Circle and the Australian Breastfeeding Association, and completed fundraising treks for the Fred Hollows foundation and Mito foundation. Professionally, she is a Pain Physiotherapist, having completed a Masters in Science of Medicine. Alla also works as a Research Officer at the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health, School of Public Health, University of Sydney. She also tutors at the Physio Coaching Academy Australia and has also lectured at Endeavor College of Natural Health, presenting on Sports Injury Management for Myotherapy Students.

In 2019 Alla presented at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy Conference in Geneva and in 2020 she presented findings of her Clinical Research Fellowship at the eHealth@Sydney Conference, receiving a prize for best presentation in the ‘eHealth design and implementation’ category for ‘Virtual Reality exergaming in chronic low back pain’. Her manuscript is currently under review. Later this year she will commence her PhD studies at the University of Sydney, through the School of Public Health.

Alla has a strong commitment to social justice and women’s rights, and would like to offer her organisational skills, social media skills and enthusiasm to contribute to further development and growth of the NCJWA.

Janet Merkur

Janet Merkur

  • Member of NCJWA NSW since 2013.
  • Appointed Board member in 2014 and Chair of Israel Projects. Elected acting co president in 2018 then co President of NCJWA NSW in 2019. Member of subcommittee Celebrating Israel.
  • Trustee Governor Jewish Communal Appeal (JCA) 2018-2019.
  • Public speaker at Probus, University of the Third Age, Rotary and Lions Clubs in the Sydney area. Topics include the work of NCJWA NSW and the Kindertransport scheme and its advocacy work for refugee children.
  • Janet is the Chair of the Australian chapter of the Kindertransport Association and Executive Board member of the Association based in New York.
  • Honorary Secretary of the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants 2012-2017.
  • Secondary learning Support Teacher at Willoughby Girls High School, the work involves assisting students with sensory, physical and cognitive disabilities in mainstream classers, and training their teachers in making suitable adjustments.
  • Author of specialty fiction and nonfiction texts published by Macmillan of Australian and Cambridge University Press. 
Iara Morris

Iara Morris

Iara is a ‌third‌ ‌culture‌ ‌kid,‌ ‌a‌ ‌mother‌ ‌of‌ ‌two‌ ‌young‌ ‌boys,‌ ‌has ‌worked‌ ‌in‌ ‌Perth‌,‌ ‌Beijing‌ and ‌San‌ ‌Jose‌ and‌ ‌grew‌ ‌up‌ ‌in‌ ‌Israel,‌ ‌Brazil‌ ‌and‌ ‌Singapore‌ ‌before‌ ‌arriving‌ ‌in‌ ‌Perth‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌age‌ ‌of‌ ‌8.‌ ‌ She is an experienced Director working in Governance, Risk and Compliance in a professional services firm. 

Iara grew up involved in the Jewish community through Habonim Dror and was a Madricha in the Perth community after going on Shnat.  ‌As‌ ‌a‌ ‌full-time‌ ‌ culturally‌ ‌Jewish‌ ‌working‌ ‌mother‌ ‌with‌ ‌Brazilian‌ ‌parents,‌ ‌she ‌has ‌lived‌ ‌in‌ ‌over‌ ‌6‌ ‌countries‌ ‌and‌ ‌has ‌been‌ ‌a‌ ‌champion‌ ‌of‌ ‌diversity‌ ‌and women all‌ ‌her ‌life.

She has Board experience through her role on the Board of the NCJW San Francisco Chapter where she was involved in advocacy in the annual policy campaigning in Sacramento (California’s capital) and through her human trafficking awareness campaign involvement. While in the US she attended Stanford Continuing Studies to do courses such as Executive Presence in Women and the New Alpha Leader.

In the US she began ‌a‌ ‌working‌ ‌parents‌ ‌mentor‌ ‌program‌ ‌and‌ actively leads a W‌omen Development’s group in Australia.

Her passion‌ ‌for‌ ‌people‌, women and children has‌ ‌defined‌ ‌her community and ‌working‌ ‌life.‌

Karen Prior

Karen Prior

Karen is an active member of the Brisbane Jewish Community and also a member of the Rome Jewish community. She is a committed and passionate Orthodox Jew. In her professional life she has been an advocate for women and for justice. Karen is a member of NCJW Brisbane.
Karen was the first woman official employed by a blue collar union in Queensland (1982), and since then her work has been focused on employment, workplace relations and workplace health and safety. These days Karen is an employment lawyer who works as a consultant for both employers and employees. Much of her work over the past two years has been in the not for profit sector in Victoria, a legacy of her time as a union official with the former Australian Social Welfare Union (now Australian Services Union).

Karen is a former Board Member and Vice President of the Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce, Queensland branch; a former Board member and Vice President of Sinai College, a former Board Member and Vice President of Beit Knesset Shalom (now Beit Or v Shalom) in Brisbane and Legal Advisor to Mishkan Israel at the Jewish Communal Centre in Brisbane.

Karen is a current member of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies, supporting the politics portfolio team and leading the business portfolio team. Karen is also an active member in the infrastructure of the Brisbane Jewish Community Cultural Group (a monthly lunch for older community members).

Karen has an interest in the engagement of women in Jewish tradition, and has presented at Limmud in Canberra on both “Women and Haircovering” and “Meet the Roman Jewish Community”, a version of the last paper also being presented at Limmud Melbourne in 2018.

Previous Board


Past President

Negba Weiss-Dolev

Past Vice Presidents 

Shirley Glance OAM and Di Hirsh OAM