The Governor is an inspiring pioneer and role model for women in leadership through her judicial appointments and in her numerous community roles in service of others.
“I am proud to receive an Honorary Doctorate from La Trobe University," The Governor said.
"This is a university that leads in many disciplines, and is genuinely connected to community here in Melbourne’s north, where it is a significant contributor to employment and the economy, and connected regionally as well.”
From the Citation for the Award of the Degree, Doctor of Laws (honoris causa)
Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC – Victoria’s 29th Governor – is an inspiring pioneer and role model for women in leadership through her judicial appointments and in her numerous community roles in service of others.
In her early years as a lawyer, the Governor practised in commercial litigation and family law in Melbourne before working as a Senior Crown Counsel in the Hong Kong Attorney-General’s chambers and as a member of the Victorian Small Claims and Residential Tenancies Tribunal.
She was appointed as a Magistrate in 1986 and served in the Children’s Court, Coroners Court and Melbourne Magistrates’ Court where she was later head of the Civil division and the Committal Court.
In June 1995, the Governor was appointed a Judge of the Family Court of Australia, where she served for 18 years until July 2013. During that time, she chaired or participated in national projects within and outside the Court in relation to child abuse, family violence, mediation, less adversarial trial procedures and case management, and represented the Family Court on the Commonwealth Family Law Pathways Advisory Group.
She is the first woman to serve as Governor of Victoria following a distinguished legal career after being admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1975 and signing the Roll of Counsel at the Victorian Bar in 1979.
Outside the law, the Governor has served in numerous community roles and has supported organisations across a broad range of sectors.
She was the founding Chair of the Essendon Football Club Women’s Network, President of Middle Park Primary School Council, Vice- President of Wesley College Council, a Board member of Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre, a member of the Royal Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee, and a Patron of the Epilepsy Foundation and the food recycling charity One Umbrella.
In 2010, the Governor was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to family law and the community and, in 2017, she was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the people of Victoria through leadership roles in the judiciary, to the advancement of economic ties and business relationships, and as a supporter of charitable, sporting and arts organisations.
Immediately before her appointment as Governor, she was President of the Melbourne Festival, Chair of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Victorian Regional Committee, a Commissioner of the Australian Football League, and a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria.
As Governor, she has carried out her constitutional responsibilities and ceremonial duties with distinction and worked tirelessly in the community and international engagement activities, including presiding over the official opening of the La Trobe University Sports Park in 2019.
The awarding of an Honorary Degree to Her Excellency the Governor is a fitting tribute to the life and work of a woman who has made extraordinary contributions to Australian law and society.
Chancellor, in recognition of her dedication, leadership and exceptional service, I present to you for the award of the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa), Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau.