The Hon Catherine Branson QC (2008-2012)
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.
Ms Branson's term at the Commission ended on 29 July 2012.
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 status at 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.