After 18 years on the Bench, Melbourne based Family Court Judge, Justice Linda Dessau AM, farewells the Court on Friday 21 June 2013.
During her time with the Family Court, Justice Dessau has chaired many national projects within and outside the court in relation to child abuse, family violence, mediation, less adversarial proceedings and judicial education.
Prior to her appointment to the Family Court in 1995, Justice Dessau was a magistrate in the Children’s Court, Coroner’s Court and Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, and formerly a barrister at the Victorian Bar and Senior Crown Counsel in Hong Kong.
Justice Dessau was recognised for her service to the judiciary, particularly in the area of family law policy and practice, and to the community, when in 2010 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.
Her Honour’s achievements have not been contained within the confines of the Family Court. Additionally she has had long-standing involvement in various community organisations, boards and councils including school, hospital, opera and football organisations. She was also the founding chair of the Essendon Women’s Network and was appointed to the AFL Commission in 2008.
Upon reflection on her time with the Court, Justice Dessau said that over her 18-year journey, the most poignant part of the work has been in observing the innocent children, who in the midst of their parents’ relationship breakdown, are saying that they love both their parents and just want the fighting to stop.
“Family Court judges often see people at their worst, at a time of great loss and sadness and at a difficult time of adjustment.
“Sadly, we also see far too much untreated poor mental health, the ravages of hard economic conditions, the scourge of drug and/or alcohol addiction and we see far too much family violence and abuse.”
Although Justice Dessau leaves the Court, she is not retiring and will continue to pursue many more opportunities.
“Today I look forward to the next stage of my professional, community and family life,” Justice Dessau added.
Chief Justice of the Family Court, The Hon Diana Bryant AO said that Justice Dessau has spent 18 years on the Bench of the Family Court and in addition to her role as a hardworking trial judge has made an enormous contribution to the administration of the court through her work on many committees. She has a particular interest in judicial education and has taught National Judicial College of Australia courses for many years.
As a trial judge she had a great capacity to empathise and communicate with litigants while always maintaining the dignity of the court."
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