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Honourable Justice Deirdre O'Connor

In 1990, Honourable Justice Deirdre O'Connor became the first female Federal Court judge in Australia.

Honour Roll

Deirdre O'Connor was born on 5 February 1941 in Sydney and educated at Bethlehem College, Ashfield and Sydney University. She commenced law studies in 1973 after working as a school teacher. She lectured in law at the University of New South Wales and then at Macquarie University. She also lectured at the Australian Film and Television School on media and law before being admitted to the New South Wales bar in 1980.

Deirdre was the Australian Government Representative to the UNESCO conference in Vienna on the teaching of human rights in 1978. From 1983-85 she joined the New South Wales Law Reform Commission. Deirdre was chair of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal from 1986-90. She was frustrated by the inability of the Tribunal to control media ownership and described it as a 'toothless tiger'.

In 1990, she was made a Federal Court judge, the first woman in Australia to hold such a position. She was President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (1990-94), President of the National Native Title Tribunal (1993-94) and President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (1994-97).