Lincoln Crowley first Indigenous person to be sworn in as Supreme Court Justice

Australia’s first Indigenous Supreme Court justice says it is “remarkable” it has taken so long for a First Nations person to be appointed to the position.

Justice Lincoln Crowley was sworn in as a member of the highest court in Queensland at the Banco Court in Brisbane on Monday.

More than 500 legal practitioners and members of the public attended the “landmark” ceremony.

Justice Crowley said he was “extremely proud and humbled”.

“This is also a momentous and historic occasion for the First Nations people of this state and indeed this country,” he said.

Justice Crowley was raised in North Queensland by his single father, a retired army officer, and is a descendent of the Warramunga people from the Northern Territory.

 Lincoln Crowley with a beard and glasses with indigenous flag behind him.
Justice Lincoln Crowley has had a storied legal career.(AAP: Dan Peled)

After graduating from James Cook University, Justice Crowley worked as a solicitor-advocate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.

He was called to the bar in 2003 and has worked in Sydney and Brisbane, acting in several high-profile cases as a crown prosecutor, before being made Queen’s Counsel in 2018.

‘Representation matters’

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman congratulated Justice Crowley on his appointment, praising his “outstanding” professional journey.

“There is a strong relationship between diversity in the bench and public trust in the judicial system, and public confidence in the impartiality of the institution,” she said.

Shannon Fentiman speaks at a media conference in Brisbane
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman says the courts should represent Queensland’s diversity. (ABC News: Michael Lloyd)

Queensland Law Society president Kara Thomson said Justice Crowley is a “highly respected” mentor to many law students, and will be an inspiration to other First Nations people in the legal profession.

“[Justice Crowley is] well renown for being the embodiment of counsel who represents his client, be they famous or infamous, fairly, rationally, predictably, consistently, and impartially,” she said.

“[His] appointment is most well-deserved and a recognition of all [his] intellect and skills.”

 Lincoln Crowley in a white wig and robes.
He was called to the bar in 2003 and has worked in Sydney and Brisbane.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Justice Crowley said his background and life experiences will inevitably shape and inform his determination of justice in the cases that come before him.

“Indigenous people must be represented and involved at the highest levels of decision-making, across all branches of government, including within the judiciary – justice and equality demands no less.”

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