President and Commissioners - Annual Report 2009-2010: Australian Human Rights Commission

President and Commissioners

The Hon. Catherine Branson, QC
President and Human Rights Commissioner

The Hon. Catherine Branson was appointed President of the Australian Human Rights Commission on 7 August 2008 and commenced her five year term on 14 October 2008. On 12 July 2009 she additionally became the Human Rights Commissioner.

At the time of her appointment as President of the Commission, she was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, a position she had held since 1994. The Federal Court is a superior court with wide original and appellate jurisdiction including jurisdiction to hear and determine complaints alleging unlawful discrimination under Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws and in other areas of human rights law including refugee law.

At the time of her appointment to the Federal Court, Ms Branson was a member of the Board of Examiners of the Supreme Court of South Australia, a council member of the University of South Australia and a Trustee of the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust. She had earlier been Deputy Chair of the Adelaide Medical Centre for Women and Children and a member of the National Women’s Advisory Council.

Ms Branson is a past President of the Australian Institute for Judicial Administration, a former member of the Board of Management of IDLO (a governmental organisation based in Rome enjoying observer statusat the United Nations), a member of the International Association of Judges, a member of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges and convenor of the latter association’s Human Rights Nexus Working Party.

Prior to her appointment as a judge, she practiced as a barrister at the Adelaide Bar in South Australia, principally in the areas of administrative law, including discrimination law, and commercial law. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1992. Between 1984-89, she was Crown Solicitor of South Australia and the CEO of the South Australian Attorney-General’s Department. Ms Branson holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide.

Mick Gooda
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

Mick Gooda is a descendent of the Gangulu people of central Queensland. He is a senior executive with 25 years experience and a record of attaining high-level goals and leading multi-million dollar service programs and organisational reform.

Immediately prior to taking up the position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick was the Chief Executive Officer of the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH) for close to five and a half years. Here, he drove a research agenda which placed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ‘front and centre’ in the research agenda, working alongside world leading researchers. His work at the CRCAH empowered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to lead the research agenda in areas including: chronic disease management; skin infections; and promoting cultural change in hospitals to make them more appropriate to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mick has extensive knowledge of the diversity of circumstance and cultural nuances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia. He has been actively involved in advocacy in Indigenous affairs throughout Australia and has delivered strategic and sustainable results in remote, rural and urban environments. Mick has played a leadership role in a range of areas including: Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and Senior Consultant to the Aboriginal Legal Service (WA).

He is highly experienced in policy and program development in the public and community sectors.

Mick is also currently a Board Member of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health Queensland, and is the Australian representative on the International Indigenous Council which focuses on healing and addictions. He also has an interest in the Lateral Violence Program in Canada and has been working closely with the First Nation people of Canada on the relevance of this program to Australia.

Graeme Innes, AM
Disability Discrimination Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner

Graeme Innes has been Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner since December 2005. During that time he has also served as Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner for three and a half years and as Race Discrimination Commissioner for two years.

Graeme is a Lawyer, Mediator and Company Director. He has been a Human Rights Practitioner for 30 years in NSW, WA and nationally.

As Commissioner, Graeme has led or contributed to the success of a number of initiatives. These have included the Same Sex: Same Entitlements inquiry, which resulted in removal of discrimination across federal law; the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and its ratification by Australia; the development of the National Disability Strategy and the Disability (Access to Premises – buildings) Standards 2010; as well as establishment of the Lifetime Housing Foundation. Graeme has also been an active high profile advocate for the implementation of cinema captioning and audio descriptions and, as Human Rights Commissioner, undertook three annual inspections of Australia’s Immigration Detention facilities.

Graeme has been a Member of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal; the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal; and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. He has also been a Hearing Commissioner with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Graeme was Chair of the Disability Advisory Council of Australia, and the first Chair of Australia’s national blindness agency, Vision Australia.

In 1995 Graeme was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). In 2003, he was a finalist for Australian of the Year.

Graeme is married with an adult son and a daughter in primary school. He enjoys cricket (as a spectator) and sailing (as a participant), and relaxes by drinking fine Australian white wine.

Elizabeth Broderick
Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination

Elizabeth Broderick was appointed Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination in September 2007 for a five year term.

A lawyer and businesswoman, Elizabeth was the 2001-02 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year and Australian Corporate Business Woman of the Year.

Prior to her appointment as Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination, Elizabeth was a partner at Blake Dawson and developed the firm’s business case for flexibility in the workplace. Her efforts contributed to creating a workplace where more than 20 percent of the law firm’s workforce now uses flexible work arrangements.

Elizabeth has travelled the length and breadth of Australia listening to the gender equality and age discrimination concerns of women and men.

In 2009 she accompanied a group of Aboriginal women to the United Nations where they told their story of rebuilding their community following years of alcohol abuse. This opportunity enabled community womens’ voices to be heard on a global stage.

She has been a strong advocate for Australia’s national paid parental leave scheme and more recently has championed the changes to the ASX Corporate Governance Principles to increase the number of women at decision making level.

Elizabeth is an advisor on women’s issues to the Australian Chief of the Defence Force, a member of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Advisory Board, the Vic Health Advisory Board and the ANU Centre for Public and International Law.

Elizabeth is married and has two young children.