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Liesel Scholem


Vale Liesel Scholem

During the almost 60 years that CHOICE has been fighting for consumers, one of the people who made the strongest impact on the lives of Australian consumers was Liesel Scholem. 

Liesel is remembered for her efforts to end exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace. For years she tenaciously fought to not only receive compensation for the damage to her health that she suffered while working as a psychologist for the Department of Health, but also to protect others from similar harm with a precedent-setting court judgement. 

In 1992, a jury handed down a verdict that produced the first legal determination in the world that passive smoking in the workplace was significantly harmful. It's largely thanks to Liesel's pursuit of justice that smoking was banned in workplaces, airports, shopping centres and other public spaces.

While she's best known for her work on passive smoking protections, Liesel also spent more than 16 years on the CHOICE Board, serving from 1979 to 1996.

She is remembered by Board members who served with her during that time as a strong advocate for the rights of consumers and as someone who believed in holding manufacturers accountable.

Simon Chapman, who served on the Board with Liesel in the 1990s, spoke of the huge impact she had. 

"Liesel's actions were immeasurably important because she was one of the first litigants in workplace passive smoking", adding that even though many people wouldn't recognise her name she was truly an "unsung hero".

Another long-time Board member and former head of policy, Allan Asher, also remembered Liesel's active campaigning for smoke-free workplaces, as well as the work she did to reduce TV commercials promoting unhealthy foods during children's viewing times.

Liesel passed away on 24 October at the age of 91. CHOICE joins her family and friends in mourning her passing.