Women’s rights activist wins  2018 ALA QLD Civil Justice Award

16th Feb 2018

A lawyer who has consistently fought for the rights of some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged women in the criminal justice system has been presented with the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) 2018 Queensland Civil Justice Award (CJA).

Lawyer Debbie Kilroy, of Kilroy & Callaghan Lawyers, was presented with the QLD CJA during the ALA's state conference on the Gold Coast.

ALA Queensland President Michelle James said that Ms Kilroy was a strong voice for women’s rights in the justice system in Australia.

“Debbie Kilroy is a truly deserving recipient of this year’s ALA Queensland Civil Justice Award,” Ms James said.

“She has been a tireless advocate for the rights of disadvantaged women and children on a wide variety of issues.”

“Debbie has fought for women’s rights in relation to violence, homelessness, racism, mental health, substance abuse, poverty, child protection, sexual assault, systemic failings and imprisonment,” Ms James said.”

“During her career, Debbie has strived to reduce the rate of criminalisation and imprisonment of women and children.”

“She has focused on addressing the serious over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women at all levels in the criminal justice system, as well as working to mitigate the impact of mothers' imprisonment on their children,” Ms James said.

Ms James said Ms Kilroy had already made history by being the only convicted drug trafficker and the first former prisoner to be admitted as a lawyer in Australia.

Ms Kilroy established the organisation ’Sisters Inside‘ after her release from prison in 1992, which “exists to advocate for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system, and to address gaps in the services available to them” .[1]

Ms Kilroy has also contributed widely to collaborative legal and civil rights activities, including as an Executive Member of the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties and ex-officio Chairperson of the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland. She has served as a member of the Criminal Law Committee, Law Council of Australia; Criminal Law Committee, Queensland Law Society; Equal Rights Alliance; Australian Women Again Violence Alliance; National Coronial Reform; Federation of Community Legal Centres; and Criminal Justice Network.

“Throughout her career, Debbie has demonstrated an ironclad commitment to protecting the rights and the wellbeing of women being held in the criminal justice system,” Ms James said.

“She has proven to be extremely tenacious in her quest to protect and promote the rights of those who are vulnerable or who have been wronged.”

“The ALA is very proud to present this award to Debbie today in recognition for her tireless work,” Ms James said.