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Curtin honours former High Court Justice Michael Kirby

Media release

Former High Court Justice, the Honourable Michael Kirby, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Curtin University in recognition of his outstanding record of judicial service and his promotion of human rights in Australia and overseas.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the honour recognised Mr Kirby’s longstanding commitment and contribution to the removal of discrimination, and his influence on public life.

“Mr Kirby’s early work in AIDS prevention, and his more recent leadership as Commissioner of the World Health Organization Global Commission on AIDS, has helped save many lives,” Professor Terry said.

“His tireless work to remove discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities is well known and highly-regarded.”

Mr Kirby grew up in Sydney and was educated at The University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1959, a Bachelor of Laws in 1962, a Bachelor of Economics in 1996 and a Master of Laws with First Class Honours in 1967.

He spent 34 years as a judicial officer, culminating in 13 years on the High Court of Australia. He retired from the bench in 2009.

“As an appellate judge he wrote clearly and fearlessly, frequently in the minority, and always with an eye to the future,” Professor Terry said.

“His international work spans many decades – he has served on or led numerous international bodies, commissions of inquiry and UN missions, many dedicated to the pursuit of human rights.”

Mr Kirby, named by the National Trust of Australia in 1997 as an Australian National Living Treasure, has received widespread recognition for his work; receiving numerous awards, honorary professorships and honours including the inaugural Australian Privacy Medal and the Australian Human Rights Medal.

In 2012 he officially launched the Curtin Law School, and in 2016 was named Patron of Curtin’s Centre for Human Rights Education.

Mr Kirby received his Honorary Doctorate of Letters at a ceremony at Curtin’s Bentley Campus on 16 February 2017.