- Honour Roll
Elizabeth Evatt was born on 11 November 1933 in Sydney. Her father, Clive Evatt, was a QC and senior minister in post-war Labor governments and her uncle was also a lawyer, Leader of the Federal Labor Party and President of the United Nations General Assembly.
She was brought up as a socialist yet she lived in a sheltered conservative environment. She attended Presbyterian Ladies College before studying law at Sydney University (LLB) and Harvard (LLM). She then worked in London for almost twenty years, first at the Bar from 1958 and then from 1968 for the English Law Commission where she developed an interest in law reform.
In 1973, she was invited by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to return to Australia as Deputy President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which became the Industrial Relations Commission. She headed the Royal Commission into Human Relations (1974-77) which was established by the Federal Labor Government to inquire into broad issues of human relationships in response to rapid social and technological changes.
She became the first chief Judge of the Family Court of Australia when it was established in 1976. She retained this role until 1988. From 1988-94, she served as President of the Australian Law Reform Commission and was also a member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission from 1993 to 2001. In 1995, Elizabeth was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal. She has international respect as a Human Rights lawyer.