Mastering the art of judgment writing.

Speaker Profile images

Thursday 15th to Friday 16th February 2024

2 Day EVENT | 9:00 AM-5:00 PM


Do you feel burdened by the number of judgments you have to write? Are your judgments and rulings getting longer and more complex?

Learn how to step off the judicial writing treadmill – and liberate time to focus on other aspects of the judicial role.

In this 2-day experiential workshop, you will learn from judge-educators and eminent writers to hone your judgment writing techniques to become more efficient and effective. Participants will develop a range of effective ways to write tightly structured, precise and accessible decisions that use language that is clear for your intended readers.  

You will learn how to:

  • write clearly, concisely, and efficiently 
  • utilise narrative structure and voice effectively 
  • apply frameworks for writing and structuring judgments. 

The Teaching Faculty includes:

  • Justice Kim Hargrave, Supreme Court of Victoria (co-chair)
  • Justice Kristen Walker, Supreme Court of Victoria (co-chair)
  • Justice Cameron Macaulay, Supreme Court of Victoria  
  • Justice Paul Cosgrave, Supreme Court of Victoria
  • Judge Fiona Todd, County Court of Victoria

The writers joining the program are:

  • Don Watson
  • Alice Pung OAM
  • Jock Serong
  • Kate Mildenhall

Note: This event is open to Supreme and County Court judges only and will be held again in August 2024 for judicial officers from all jurisdictions. Details for the August event are available here

Keynote speaker.

Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia
The Hon Justice Debra Mortimer
In April 2023, Justice Debra Mortimer was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia. Chief Justice Mortimer is the fifth Chief Justice and the first female Chief Justice of the Federal Court. She was previously a judge of the Federal Court since 2013. During this time she was a National Co-ordinating Judge in the Court’s Native Title National Practice Area. Until 2021 she was also a National Co-ordinating Judge in the Administrative and Constitutional Law and Human Rights Practice Area, and a Migration Liaison Judge. Prior to her appointments, Chief Justice Mortimer was a member of the Victorian Bar and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2003. Her practice included public law, anti-discrimination law, extradition and environmental law, and in all areas she acted for both applicants and respondents, for and against government, in state and federal jurisdictions including in the High Court. She had a substantial public interest practice and was involved in many ground-breaking cases over her 24 years at the Bar. Chief Justice Mortimer remains a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School, a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at Melbourne Law School, and a member of Board of Advisers for the Public Law Review.


Former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia
The Hon Professor Peter Gray AM
The Hon. Prof Peter Gray (AM), a former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, has held judicial appointments as the President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, Deputy President of the Native Title Tribunal, amongst others. Peter has held Adjunct Professorial and teaching positions at ANU, Deakin, Melbourne, Monash and Swinburne Universities teaching language and the law and legal writing post-graduate subjects. Most recently, Peter has completed a Master of Applied Linguistics and is a member of the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics.
Professor Helen Sword
Helen Sword is a poet, scholar, master teacher, and international expert on academic, professional, and creative writing across the disciplines. Her books, articles, and online tools have empowered writers around the world to write more clearly, confidently, prolifically, and with greater pleasure. Born and raised in Southern California, Helen received her PhD in comparative literature from Princeton University and is a former Professor of Humanities at the University of Auckland. She now runs a private writing consultancy, WriteSpace Limited, and offers online workshops, masterclasses, and retreats for writers of all levels and genres. She is also the founder of the WriteSPACE, a virtual writing community with writers in 30+ countries. Helen is the author of books including Stylish Academic Writing (Harvard UP, 2012), The Writer’s Diet (Chicago UP, 2016), Air and Light and Time and Space: How Successful Academics Write (Harvard UP, 2017), and Writing with Pleasure (Princeton 2023). She is also the creator of popular digital resources including Zombie Nouns, a TedEd video that has received more than one million views on YouTube. Helen is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and has been honored with a number of research and teaching awards, including the University of Auckland's 2007 Teaching Excellence Award for Innovation in Teaching, the 2013 HERDSA-TERNZ Medal for a scholar who has made a major impact on the tertiary education research environment of New Zealand, and the University of Auckland's 2017 Research Excellence Award. Her evidence-based writing workshops and presentations have taken her to more than 1oo universities, research institutes, and other organizations on every continent except Antarctica. She now specializes in facilitating experiential online workshops, masterclasses, and retreats that bring together writers from across the globe in a shared virtual writing space.
Dr Don Watson
Over the past fifty years Don Watson’s articles, columns and reviews on politics, history and culture have appeared in most major Australian journals and newspapers. In recent years he has written regularly for The Monthly. For many years he wrote political satire for the legendary Australian television and stage shows starring Max Gillies. His film writing includes The Man Who Sued God (starring Billy Connolly and Judy Davis) and Passion (Barbara Hershey and Richard Roxburgh). For five years he was speechwriter to the Victorian Labor Premier, John Cain. In January 1993 he became Prime Minister Paul Keating’s speechwriter and adviser and remained in the role until the government’s defeat in March 1996. His books include Caledonia Australis and the acclaimed best-sellers Recollections of a Bleeding Heart (2002), Death Sentence (2003), Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words (2004); American Journeys (2008), Bendable Learnings (2010), The Bush (2014), Worst Words (2015), A Single Tree, (2018), The Story of Australia (2021) and The Passion of Private White (2022). A collection of his writings, Watsonia, was published by Black Inc. in 2020. He is also the author of two Quarterly Essays, the second of them, Enemy Within (2016), is on the 2016 US Election. He has won The Age Book of the Year twice, the Independent Booksellers Book of the Year, the National Biography Award, Courier-Mail Book of the Year, Alfred Deakin Essay Prize, Australian Literary Studies Association Book of the Year, a Walkley Award, and the New South Wales Premier’s Award. In 2011 he was awarded the Phillip Hodgins Medal for Australian Literature.
Alice Pung OAM
Alice Pung is an award-winning author, journalist, lawyer and educator from Melbourne. Her non-fiction books Unpolished Gem, Her Father’s Daughter and Growing Up Asian in Australia have been set texts at schools and universities all around Australia and the US. She is a frequent contributor to The Monthly, Good Weekend and The Age. In 2015, Alice was awarded Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelist of the Year for her latest book Laurinda. Alice has been a judge of the Walkley Awards for Journalism as well as the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. In her capacity as a lawyer, Alice has a strong interest in human rights and workplace relations. Alice has been on ABC’s Big Ideas event, speaking against bigotry and proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. Alice’s passion is in education: she has worked for eleven years in the tertiary sector and is the current Artist-in-Residence at Janet Clarke Hall, the University of Melbourne. She has given guest lectures at Peking University, Vassar College, Brown University, the University of Iowa, the University of Bologna and the University of Milano, among other places. In 2010, Alice was selected by the US Department of State as one of ten writers from around the world to participate in their Fall and Recovery tour of disaster and conflict sites in America. Alice is also an Ambassador to the 100 Story Building and Room to Read, as well as Les Twentyman’s Twentieth Man Fund. Alice’s latest book is One Hundred Days, her first adult novel. It is a fractured fairytale about a mother and daughter, which explores the faultlines between love and control.
Jock Serong
Jock Serong is a former criminal lawyer and member of the Victorian Bar. Since leaving legal practice in 2013, he has authored six novels, co-founded and edited the journal Great Ocean Quarterly, and written features for a wide range of media including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Monthly, The Guardian and Surfing World. Jock is currently a Board member of Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre. Current projects include writing for screen, mentoring, releasing an anthology of stories about Paul Kelly songs, and completing a new novel.
Kate Mildenhall
Kate Mildenhall is an author, writing teacher and podcaster. Her debut novel Skylarking (2016) was longlisted for Debut Fiction in The Indie Book Awards 2017 and the 2017 Voss Literary Award. Her second novel, The Mother Fault (2020) was longlisted for the 2021 ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year and shortlisted for the 2021 Aurealis Science Fiction Novel of the Year. Her latest novel is The Hummingbird Effect (2023). For the past six years, Kate has co-hosted The First Time podcast where she has interviewed writers such as Tim Winton, Helen Garner, Richard Flanagan, Charlotte Wood and hundreds more. Kate is currently working on her fourth novel and undertaking a PhD in creative practice at RMIT University. Her first picture book will be released in 2024. Kate lives in Hurstbridge on Wurundjeri lands, with her partner and two children.