Top Australia Day honours have been awarded to four prominent legal figures this year.
Last week High Court judge Stephen Gageler AC, Victorian Governor and former Family Court judge Linda Dessau AC, former federal attorney-general and Federal Court judge Robert Ellicott AC QC, and Tasmanian Governor and legal academic Professor Catherine Ann Warner AC were appointed as companions in the general division of the Order of Australia.
Among those appointed as officers of the Order were Justice Mark Weinberg AO QC, former judges Stephen Charles AO and Christopher Wright AO QC, and humanitarian lawyer Dr Helen Anne Durham AO.
NSW Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson AM was among the distinguished Australians named members in the general division of the Order of Australia.
The chief magistrate, who has served the state of NSW in his role for more than a decade and has clocked up 28 years on the bench, was recognised for his significant service to the law.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald last week, the judge said he wouldn’t swap his job for anything.
“I understand well and truly the value of law in a free and democratic society such as this. It’s fundamental to our way of life and the protection of the community,” Judge Henson said.
The chief magistrate was joined in the category by former judge Elizabeth Curtain AM, Justice Kevin Bell AM, adjunct professor and former judge Nahum Mushin AM, Professor Ian Harley Bailey AM SC, Professor Peter Zablud AM RFD, Emeritus Professor Sandford Clark AM, Alexander Baykitch AM, Geraldine Daley AM, Peter Garrisson AM SC and Brian Walters AM QC.
Victorian John Corcoran AM (pictured) was also appointed as a member of the Order of Australia last week. The principal and chair of Russell Kennedy Lawyers has held a number of roles in the profession, leading both the Law Institute of Victoria and the Law Council of Australia as president at various stages of his career.
Barristers Barry Collier OAM from NSW and William Lye OAM from Victoria were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
Criminal lawyer Deng Adut was the NSW finalist for Australian of the Year. The 33-year-old fled his home country of Sudan when he was 15, after being conscripted as a child soldier at the age of six.
“Australia educated me. How lucky I became. How lucky is any person who receives an education in a free land and goes on to use it in daily life,” Mr Adut told an audience at the 20th annual Australia Day address in 2016.
John Corcoran, principal of Russell Kennedy Lawyers, has been appointed as a member of the Order of Australia.