By Olivia Bunter
Some 1000 outstanding Australians have been recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, including The University of Notre Dame Australia’s (UNDA) Emeritus Chancellor, Justice Neville Owen AO.
Justice Owen is one of the 77 West Australians to be awarded the prestigious honour for his work in law and education throughout his career.
The recipients were announced on 9 June, who were all recognised for a significant contribution to the wider community in their specialised field of work.
Previously, Justice Owen acted as Chancellor for UNDA (2005 to 2008) and has since held the Chair of The Truth, Justice and Healing Council since 2014; a body that was established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
The organisation was designed to oversee the Roman Catholic Church in Australia’s engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Justice Owen said in a recent interview with The Catholic Weekly that it was a highlight of his career to contribute to such an important investigation.
“I appreciate being able to make a contribution, small though it may be, to the welfare of people harmed greatly by that tragedy, but also to pave the way for making our institution as safe a place as possibly it can be for children and vulnerable adults,” Justice Owen said.
Justice Owen graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1968 with a Bachelor of Laws (honours) and practiced as a barrister and solicitor from 1972 to 1991 before he was appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court of Western Australia (1991 to 2010).
He has this month received the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition of this distinguished services to the law, the judiciary, and to legal education throughout WA.
The Hon Justice Owen said that the news of his award was a “sobering experience”, but also a great honour and privilege.
A highlight of his career, he said, was leading the HIH Insurance Royal Commission from 2001 to 2003.
“It was an opportunity which very few judges get which was not only to minister justice but to have an influence in the development of policy, in the area of how business and commerce should operate,” he added.