Sir Gustav Nossal on why it's important to give back to the community

01 July 2019

World-renowned immunologist, Sir Gustav Nossal, has been a generous benefactor to Vision Australia, giving to the organisation for over 20 years.

Vision Australia Radio’s Jason Gipps and Samantha Guttridge were lucky enough to sit down with Sir Gustav last year to chat about how his generosity and charitable nature were instilled in him from an early age.

Through retelling his life experiences, Sir Gustav outlines why it is so important to share one’s good fortune with those who are less fortunate.

Sir Gustav’s family migrated to Australia when he was only seven and left behind a life of wealth and comfort in Vienna to essentially start from scratch. Sir Gustav explains the financial hardship the family had already faced before even setting foot in Australia.

“World War [One] intervened, and the fact of the matter is, in the Weimar Republic of the 1920s there was this massive currency inflation and to put it bluntly, both sets of families lost most of their dough,” Sir Gustav said.

“Well that was it, you see, wasn’t it? Wealth to pretty well nothingness, and my dad came to Australia with very little money indeed,” he said.

It was not only this experience which enabled Sir Gustav to empathise with the less fortunate. From an early age, his father had instilled in him and his two brothers the compassion and generosity for which he later became so well known.

“My father was a sheet metal worker, but that didn’t stop him from being an extremely concerned human being, very keen to impart to his boys the sort of thing we are talking about here.”

Sir Gustav knew that he had never wanted to be anything other than a doctor from the age of seven, which consequently led him down the path of medicine and immunology.

It was here that Sir Gustav recalls he was lucky enough after graduating to always have a good job. This allowed him to embark on his mission of donation and charity, from which Vision Australia benefits so greatly.

“If you have a good job and there’s many less fortunate than yourself, it seemed to be rather natural to think about the charitable scene, and think about becoming a donor.”

If you’d like to hear more about Sir Gustav’s life growing up in Australia, his experiences working with scientific pioneer Sir Macfarlane Burnet and numerous other fascinating topics, you can visit the podcast on Vision Australia Radio’s website.