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Campus News : October 2011
4 Campus News October 2011 University of Wollongong www.uow.edu.au FACULTY OF LAW 20TH ANNIVERSARY FACULTY OF LAW 20TH ANNIVERSARY FACULTY OF LAW 20TH ANNIVERSARY Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Nicholas Cowdery QC has been honoured for his contribution to the state's judicial processes with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Wollongong. The doctorate was conferred on Dr Cowdery after he gave the Occasional Address at the Faculty of Law's mid-year graduation ceremony in July. His address reflected on his early years growing up in the Illawarra and holidays spent working in the Port Kembla Steelworks. "Where the University's Innovation Campus now sits at Fairy Meadow, I used to paddle homemade corrugated iron canoes on the creeks and the now reclaimed swamp," Dr Cowdery said. "I regularly tramped up and over the escarpment in the direction of Mt Keira, Broker's Nose or Sublime Point, sometimes camping in the bush, enjoying nature and learning bushcraft and survival skills," he said. With a colourful career spanning over 40 years, Dr Cowdery's insights have been invaluable to UOW's Faculty of Law as it develops its unique Master of Laws (Criminal Prosecutions) program, whose first cohort of students graduated in July. The new course is the only Masters program in Australia designed specifically for lawyers working in criminal law, with a suite of subjects designed to develop responsible and skilful advocacy. Experienced barrister Professor Daniel Howard SC is course director, and Dr Cowdery delivered a number of special guest lectures to students over the past year. Master of Laws with Distinction recipient Joel Hiscox regarded the course a rewarding challenge. "I work for the ACT DPP and the course was broken into off campus and intensive face-to-face components," Mr Hiscox said. "The Prosecution Program was directly beneficial to my everyday work and we took a lot from our high quality teaching staff. Learning from the best in the field is great experience," he said. Cowdery honoured for service to law UOW conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Laws on former Director of Public Prosecutions Dr Nicholas Cowdery at the July graduations. Dr Cowdery (left) is pictured with UOW Chancellor Jillian Broadbent and Faculty of Law Dean Professor Luke McNamara. Australia's longest serving judge and retired High Court Justice Michael Kirby invited a packed room of Law students to lob curly questions his way in a special lecture about Constitutional Law. "I always like questions, I'm very good at them -- and you don't have to prepare for questions because they come to you as a surprise," Mr Kirby said. 'Citizen' Michael Kirby, as he likes to be referred, is one of a number of eminent parliamentarians and legal professionals to visit UOW this year to celebrate the Faculty of Law's 20th anniversary. At the lecture, second year Law students and a handful of lucky others sat, mesmerised, as the former judge offered his views on various approaches to Constitutional interpretation. "The very nature of a Constitution is that it's an ongoing instrument of government and therefore the way in which you interpret it has to be adapted to the times we live in," Mr Kirby said. "Take for example the power that is given by the Federal Parliament with respect to marriage and divorce; if it were defined by reference to what it meant in 1901 then that would be confined to marriage between a man and a woman. However because it is a living document, you look into what marriage means today. "In many countries now marriage includes marriage between same sex partners and, if that is correct, you don't need to have a referendum, you don't need to change the text, you simply give the same words a different meaning in accordance with changing times," he said. Prior to his student address, Mr Kirby visited Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerard Sutton to present him with a Dr Cowdery was the nation's longest serving Director of Public Prosecutions when he retired earlier this year after more than 16 years in the role. He first practised as a Public Defendant in Papua-New Guinea and in 2001 wrote a book titled: Getting justice wrong: myths, media and crime. He is well known for publicly criticising the previous NSW Government's law and order policies, and pushing for more funding in legal services. MC Kirby helps Faculty celebrate draft submission for the Australian Dictionary Biography, summarising the life achievements of the late Justice Robert Hope, who served as University of Wollongong Chancellor from 1975-97. "I've done my outline of his (Justice Hope's) very distinguished life and of course it mentions, as star billing, his very long role as Chancellor of the University of Wollongong," Mr Kirby said, "He was the first Chancellor when it was created as a separate university, and he made some marvellous contributions here." Justices Kirby and Hope served together on the bench of the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal in the 1980s. Court of Appeal President Justice James Allsop also delivered a special lecture, discussing the role of legal theory in everyday judging. His visit followed that of federal Member for Throsby and UOW graduate Stephen Jones, who spoke about Parliament and the Constitution. MC Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby being interviewed by UOW Media Officer and Law student Melissa Coade. Mr Kirby delivered a guest lecture at UOW as part of the Faculty of Law's 20th anniversary celebrations.