Millie Phillips, who along with Doug Moran pioneered the private ownership of aged care homes in Australia, has died in Provectus Care’s Beresford Hall RAC, in Rose Bay, Sydney, at the age of 92.
Millie arrived in Australia after her Jewish parents fled her native Poland as Germany invaded in 1938 when she was aged 10. She left school at 15, taught herself English by watching Laurence Olivier movies, and was married at 17.
Soon to be separated Phillips, who had three children, took out a bank loan in 1960 for £3000 and bought a boarding house in Sydney’s western suburbs. Later she built a chain of aged care homes (under the banner Milstern Health Care), bought motels and hotels (including the famous Canberra Rex).
In 1968, she bought a tin mine in northern NSW. She bought three more tin mines, launched Mt Hope Minerals and chaired the International Mining Corporation. Riding the nickel boom, she was Australia’s richest woman and became known for her philanthropy, with a focus on education and trying to stop anti-Semitism.
“I admired her as she was the most successful person in nursing homes. She started from nothing, with no help … and she was the best,” said her friend, Sydney property developer Harry Triguboff.
He said Millie was “a strong woman, entrepreneur, a true leader, a very generous donor for so many great causes … I always enjoyed meeting Millie; we always had a few good laughs because we were both very different from the rest of the community.”
She was a pioneer for women, remarkable, in many ways. She possessed an inflexible determination to succeed. However, as she lay in Beresford Hall after suffering a serious stroke more than three years ago, it became clear her family was at loggerheads.
In 2019, the court heard about Millie’ unsigned will – she was now too incapacitated to sign it – and her estate valued at $110M.
In the end her estate was split between family and Tel Aviv University, Sydney’s Jewish Museum and the Millie Phillips Jewish Fund.