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).
Alan Joyce AC
Alan Joyce has been Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Qantas Group since November 2008.
In his time as CEO, he has overseen the biggest transformation of Qantas since it was privatised in 1995, including the turnaround and renewed growth of Qantas International, the expansion of Qantas and Jetstar throughout Asia, the diversification of the Qantas Loyalty business with new ventures, the renewal of the Group’s fleet with more than 150 new aircraft, and ongoing investment in lounges, technology and training.
This transformation drove Qantas to the best financial performance in its 96-year history in 2016, together with record customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
Alan previously served as founding CEO of Jetstar for five years from October 2003, establishing its operations in Australia and Asia. Prior to his appointment at Jetstar, he spent over 15 years in key positions at Qantas, Ansett and Aer Lingus.
Between July 2012 and June 2013, Alan was Chairman of the International Air Transport Association.
He was named “Airline CEO of the Year” by CAPA Centre for Aviation in 2015 and has been recognised as one of the world’s most influential gay business leaders for two years running in the OUTstanding / Financial Times list of “Top 100 Leading LGBT Executives”.
Alan was named a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List for his services to “the aviation transport industry, to the development of the national and international tourism sectors, to gender equity, inclusion and diversity, and to the community, particularly as a supporter of Indigenous education”.
His current roles in business and the community include:
- Director of the Business Council of Australia;
- Member of the Male Champions of Change;
- Ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation NSW.Alan is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (Physics and Mathematics) (Honours) and a Master of Science in Management Science.
Jennifer Westacott AO
The Business Council of Australia is the nation’s premier business organisation, advocating for a stronger and fairer society through a more prosperous Australia.Jennifer Westacott AO has served as Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia since 2011, bringing a unique combination of extensive policy experience in both the public and private sectors.Under her leadership, the Business Council tirelessly champions meaningful policies that strengthen the ability of businesses to grow the economy for the benefit of all Australians.Jennifer built her career in the public sector, working in senior leadership positions in the NSW and Victorian governments.
She has served as the Director General of the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources; the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Education and Training; and the Director of Housing in Victoria.
She was also the Deputy Director General of the NSW Department of Community Services, and the Deputy Director General of the NSW Department of Housing.
As a senior partner at KPMG, Jennifer advised major corporations on climate change and sustainability and advised governments across Australia on significant reform priorities.
Jennifer has an unrivalled understanding of how the public and private sectors intersect and can work together to achieve the best outcomes in the national interest.
Since 2013, Jennifer has served as a Non Executive Director of Wesfarmers Limited.
She is the Chair of the Western City & Aerotropolis Authority, which is overseeing the design and delivery of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. The global employment centre and investment hub will surround the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport at Badgerys Creek.
Jennifer is an Adjunct Professor at the City Futures Research Centre of the University of NSW.
She is the inaugural Chair of the Board of Studio Schools of Australia, and a patron of Mental Health Australia.
Jennifer also serves as the Australian Co-chair of the Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum Organising Committee, the Co-Patron of Pride in Diversity, and as a patron of The Pinnacle Foundation.
In 2018, Jennifer was made an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of New South Wales and in 2017 received an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) from her alma mater. She was a Chevening Scholar at the London School of Economics.