Michael Kirby Lecture Series

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMGEach year Southern Cross University and the School of Law and Justice hold the Michael Kirby Lecture, which features a keynote address by a prominent person in the areas of law, human rights, social policy or justice.

The lecture series is named after Australia's most iconic judge, The Hon Michael Kirby.

When he retired from the High Court in 2009, Mr Kirby was Australia's longest-serving judge. He has remained active in retirement.

He has served as the President of the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia and as Editor-in-Chief of The Laws of Australia. He is an Honorary Visiting Professor at 12 universities, including Southern Cross University.


2019 Michael Kirby Lecture - Kirby vs. Schlink: Judges on law, letters and life

2019: Kirby vs. Schlink: Judges on law, letters and life

In collaboration with Byron Writers Festival, Southern Cross University’s School of Law & Justice hosted, under the aegis of this year’s The Honourable Michael Kirby Lecture Series, a spirited evening with two world-renowned judges robustly debating law, letters and life.

Former High Court of Australia judge and indefatigable human rights campaigner, The Honourable Michael Kirby was joined by his European judicial counterpart, Professor Bernhard Schlink, German jurist, professor of law and bestselling author of The Reader (since adapted to an Oscar award-winning film starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes). Moderating the discussion will be law-and-literature scholar, Professor William MacNeil, Dean and Head of School of the School of Law & Justice, Southern Cross University.

Photo of Ms Sue Higginson

2018 keynote speaker: Ms Sue Higginson

2018: The Lawfare Problem, a case for an environmental rule of thumb

Keynote speaker: Ms Sue Higginson

27 July 2018 at the Gold Coast campus

Keynote address by Ms Sue Higginson, public nterest environmental lawyer, the former CEO and Principal Solicitor of EDO NSW.

Sue is a graduate of the School of Law and Justice, and celebrated alumnus.

Profile photo of Ms Raelene Webb QC

2017 Keynote Speaker, Ms Raelene Webb QC

2017: Re-imagining Native Title through the Eyes of Justice Kirby

Keynote speaker: Ms Raelene Webb QC

20 July 2017 at the Gold Coast campus

Raelene Webb QC has a national practice specialising in appellate advocacy, native title, mining law, administrative and constitutional law as well as taxation law.

After more than 20 years as a barrister Raelene was appointed as President of the National Native Title Tribunal from 2013-2018. Prior to her appointment Raelene was recognised as one of the leading native title silks in Australia. She has appeared in the High Court in many landmark constitutional and land rights cases and is one of few women to regularly appear to make oral argument before the High Court.

With a life-long passion for education, Raelene has taught in advocacy training courses and provided legal training over many years. She has given guest lectures at Australian and Canadian universities.

Raelene is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She was awarded the Law Council of Australia President’s Medal in 2014, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the legal profession in Australia.

You can view Ms Webb's presentation here.

Previous Keynote Speakers


Mr Walter Sofronoff, Queen's Counsel

Lecture topic: The Doctrine of the Separation of Powers in Australia. View Mr Sofronoff's presentation here


Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, President of the Australian Law Reform Commission since 2009.  

Lecture topic: Re-imagining law reform - Michael Kirby's vision, human rights and the Australian Law Reform Commission in the 21st century. View Professor Croucher's presentation here


The Hon John Dowd AO QC, Chancellor of Southern Cross University

View The Hon John Dowd's presentation here.


Professor Megan Davis, Director, Indigenous Law Centre, University of New South Wales

View Professor Davis's presentation here.


The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Member for Wentworth

View The Hon Malcolm Turnbull's presentation here


Associate Professor Thomas Faunce, bioethics scholar, Australian National University


The Hon Justice Margaret McMurdo AC, President of the Court of Appeal for the Supreme Court of Queensland. She was the first woman appointed to this role. 


Professor Adrien Wing, human rights scholar and lawyer, University of Iowa

View Professor Wing's presentation here


Pamela Tate SC, the first woman appointed to the position of Solicitor-General in Victoria, 2003 - 2010


The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG