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Passing of former Chief Justice of the High Court the Hon. Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE QC.

The Judicial College of Victoria salutes the life and career of former Chief Justice Brennan AC KBE QC, sends its sympathies to his loved ones, and acknowledges the profound impact he had on the law and principles of restorative justice. 

With a legal career spanning 61 years, Sir Gerard played a significant role in shaping Australia's legal system.

As Queen’s Counsel, Sir Gerard was briefed in to represent the Northern Land Council in the 1973 Woodward Royal Commission into Aboriginal Land Rights in the Northern Territory. The work of Sir Gerard and other lawyers formed the basis of the Commission’s findings and were later relied upon in drafting the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, which was the first attempt by an Australian government to legally recognise the Aboriginal system of land ownership and put into law the concept of inalienable freehold title.

More than two decades later, Sir Gerard wrote the lead judgment in the Mabo decision, which abolished the concept of terra nullius and recognised the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders to the ownership of their lands. 

The College acknowledges the influential contributions of Sir Gerard as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Mabo decision today.