Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Curtain, Elizabeth

The Honourable; AM

Barrister, Judge and Lawyer


The Hon Elizabeth Curtain graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Laws. Her Honour completed articles with Cole and O'Heare and came to the Bar in October 1978 and read with Ms Lynne Opas QC (later Judge Schiftan of the County Court.) From 1985 to 1987 her Honour was appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and was also a Member of the Motor Accidents Tribunal. Her Honour was appointed a Prosecutor for the Queen for the State of Victoria from 1987 to 1993 when she was appointed to the County Court. Her Honour also taught advocacy in the Bar's 1999 Trial Advocacy Workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the 2005 Advocacy Course, Port Moresby. The Hon Elizabeth Curtain was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006. The Hon Elizabeth Curtain retired in May 2014. In 2016 her Honour became the Judge in Residence at the University of Melbourne Law School. The retired judge has fond memories of her time as a Melbourne Law School student. She graduated in 1975, which was also International Women's Year. To mark International Women's Year, the Law School selected her to be the first female graduand to deliver the valedictory speech. Her Honour recalls this moment as one of her personal highlights. As well as serving the Court, The Hon Elizabeth Curtain has sat on many committees and served the community in a variety of roles. These included Chairman of the Adult Parole Board, Alternative Chairman of the Youth Parole Board and the Youth Residential Board, and the Deputy Chairman of the Victorian Racing Appeals Tribunal. Her Honour was also a member of the Victorian Criminal Trials, Charge Book Committee, and Governing Council Member of the Judicial Conference of Australia. Outside the law she was also Director of Jesuit Social Services Limited, which conducts a range of diverse community social service programs providing assistance to those in need. She also was a founding member of the Essendon Football Club Women's Network.

In 2017, Elizabeth Curtain was made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia 'for significant service to the law, and to the judiciary, in Victoria, to medico-legal and professional groups, and to the community'.

Larissa Halonkin

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