Patron-in-Chief: Her Excellency the Hon Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria

We are honoured to welcome Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria as our Patron-in-Chief.

On 1 July 2015, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC was sworn in as Victoria’s 29th Governor, the first female in the role.

Governor Dessau was born in Melbourne in 1953, and was educated at St Catherine’s Girls’ School, matriculating in 1969, before attending the University of Melbourne, where she gained the degree of LLB (Hons). In 1975 she was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

In her early years as a lawyer, the Governor practised in commercial litigation and family law as a solicitor at Wisewoulds, later specialising in family law after signing the Roll of Counsel at the Victorian Bar in 1978.

In 1982 she married fellow Victorian barrister, Anthony Howard, and together they took up roles as Crown Counsel, and later Senior Crown Counsel in the Hong Kong Attorney-General’s chambers, where they prosecuted criminal trials.

Soon after returning to Australia in 1985, the Governor was appointed a part-time member of the Small Claims and Residential Tenancies Tribunals, taking her first judicial appointment as a Magistrate in 1986, at the age of thirty-three. In that role, she served in the Children’s Court, Coroners Court and Melbourne Magistrates’ Court where she ultimately headed the Civil division and later the Committal Court.

During her time as a Magistrate, the Governor coordinated a significant criminal case management project, culminating in the Pegasus Report, implemented across the three tiers of courts to help reduce cost and delay in the criminal justice system. In 1994 she was awarded the Percy Baxter Churchill Fellowship to further her study in criminal case management in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In June 1995, the Governor was appointed a Judge of the Family Court of Australia, where she served for 18 years until July 2013. During that time she chaired or participated in various national projects within and outside the Court in relation to child abuse, family violence, mediation, less adversarial trial procedures and case management, and represented the Family Court on the Commonwealth Family Law Pathways Advisory Group. She was a Board member of the US based Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, a Council member of the Legal Aid Consultative Committee, and a Board member of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration.

The Governor was actively engaged in the area of judicial education, including as a Director of the National Judicial College of Australia, and as a long-standing faculty member and facilitator of the National Judicial Orientation Program. For many years she helped create and teach judgment writing courses on behalf of the National Judicial College of Australia, the Judicial College of Victoria, and for courts and tribunals throughout Australia.

Outside the law, the Governor has always had been supportive of community organisations.

In 2010 the Governor was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to family law and the community.

In 2017 the Governor was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to the people of Victoria through leadership roles in the judiciary, to the advancement of economic ties and business relationships, and as a supporter of charitable, sporting and arts organisations”.

The Governor and her husband have two sons, both of whom have completed Bachelor of Laws and Arts at Monash University.

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge before his retirement from the High Court in February 2009. He is a strong advocate of human rights, including for women, young people and sexual minorities. A hero to all in the LGBT community, we are very proud and honoured to have Michael as our first Patron.

When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge.

He was first appointed in 1975 as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission. Soon after, he was seconded as inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84). Later, he was appointed a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal and, concurrently, the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands. His appointment to the High Court came in 1996 and he served thirteen years. In later years, he was Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice.

In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby served on three university governing bodies being elected Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney (1984-93). He also served on many national and international bodies. Amongst the latter have been service as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-92); President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-8); as UN Special Representative Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-6); a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007-) and a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights.

Since his judicial retirement, Michael Kirby was elected President of the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators Australia from 2009-2010. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Laws of Australia. He has been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor by twelve universities. And he participates regularly in many local and international conferences and meetings. He has been awarded many honorary doctorates.

In 2010, he was awarded the Gruber Justice Prize. He was also a member of the Eminent Persons Group (2010-11) which was investigating the future of the Commonwealth of Nations; and has been appointed to the UNDP Global Commission of HIV and the Law (2010-12). In 2010, he was appointed to the Arbitration Panel of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (World Bank).

In 2013 he was appointed a Commissioner of the UNAIDS Commission on Sustainable Health (2013-14). Later in 2013 he was appointed by the President of the UN Human Rights Council pursuant to a resolution of the Council, to head the Commission of Inquiry on Alleged Human Rights Violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2013-14).

Prof Kerryn Phelps AM

“Jackie and I are honoured to be associated with The Pinnacle Foundation and fully support its important mission. Struggles and barriers are still faced by many young LGBTIQ people coming to terms with their sexual identity, particularly in rural and remote areas. Marginalisation and discrimination can crush young souls and destroy lives. Our community must not forget that despite the social and political advances of recent years, some of our younger generation is still vulnerable. Pinnacle’s financial support for education through scholarships, matched with a mentoring program, ensures young LGBTIQs who need help will get it. Passing wisdom from one generation to another can change lives . There is nothing more satisfying than seeing young people rise above their difficulties and achieve their full potential. Pinnacle is creating the new leaders of our community and they do it in a profound and practical way. That’s why they have our full support. Jackie and I hope they get your support as well.”

Known to many as “Dr Kerryn“, she has been a familiar face to many Australians since the 1980s. Since that time she has appeared regularly on television, radio and in the print media informing the Australian public on a wide range of health issues. She is particularly focussed on bringing the message of integrative medicine, public health and human rights issues to the public at large.

She travels frequently to speak to health professionals and to the general public on all aspects of health, wellbeing, the health system and human rights, as well as leadership and strategy for professional organisations.

In May 2000, she was elected Federal President of the Australian Medical Association, becoming the first woman to head this organisation and serving a maximum term of three years. During her presidency, Prof. Phelps focussed attention on important issues in the health system, including:

  • establishing an advisory committee on complementary and alternative medicine to develop a position statement on behalf of the medical profession
  • developing a position statement on climate change and human health
  • highlighting the medical indemnity crisis and working closely with Federal and State governments towards a solution
  • commissioning a far-reaching report into the Australian medical workforce which ultimately proved that there was a severe shortage of doctors and
  • changing the way the government plans for the medical workforce of the future
  • developing a report card on indigenous health
  • encouraging discussion of the role of the health system in response to bioterrorism.

In 2003 Prof. Phelps was awarded the Centenary Medal for services to Health and Medicine. That same year she was appointed Adjunct Professor in Public Health and General Practice at Sydney Medical School.

In 2010 she was appointed Conjoint Professor in Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales.

She continues to consult with patients at her Sydney clinics.

Prof Phelps is currently the health writer for the Australian Womens Weekly and writes medico-political commentary for Medical Observer Magazine.

In 2009 she was the host of the Seven network’s top-rating series “Last Chance Surgery”.

Prof Phelps has written the first textbook on integrative medicine with co-author Dr Craig Hassed. The text book introduces the concept of Integrative Medicine in General Practice – combining medical and complementary therapies with lifestyle to achieve the best possible health outcomes for patients.