De Kretser, who is currently the executive officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, will take up the appointment in February 2013.
“Hugh was selected from a highly competitive field of international candidates based on his outstanding track record in human rights advocacy, law reform and organisational development. His vision for the HRLC will expand the reach and impact of our work, achieving justice for individuals, strengthened government accountability and systemic human rights reform,” said Ros Grady, chairperson of the HRLC.
Accepting the appointment, de Kretser said: “I look forward to working to advance the human rights of all Australians, particularly in the HRLC’s priority areas of indigenous rights, violence against women, detainee rights and police accountability.”
De Kretser has been executive officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres since 2007, prior to which he worked as a manager of Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre (2004 to 2007) and as an employment lawyer with King & Wood Mallesons (1999 to 2004).
He served as a board member of the Human Rights Law Centre from 2005 until 2007 and has also held statutory appointments as a director of the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council and a Commissioner of the Victorian Law Reform Commission.
De Kretser replaces the outgoing executive director, Phil Lynch, who has accepted a position as director of the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva after seven years leading the HRLC.
Welcoming de Kretser’s appointment, Lynch said: “Hugh comes to the HRLC with a well-deserved reputation as one of Australia’s leading human rights advocates and over a decade’s experience working to improve access to justice and uphold the rule of law.”