The Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC joined the PIAC board on 26 October 2000 and served
eight years as a PIAC director. Ms Evatt chaired the PIAC board from 2000 to
2004. She retired from the board at PIAC’s annual general meeting in October
Ms Evatt was the first Chief Judge of the Family Court of Australia, the
first female judge of an Australian federal court, and the first Australian to
be elected to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
From 1984 to 1992, Ms Evatt was a member of the United
Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and she
chaired that Committee from 1989 to 1991.
From 1993 to 2000, Ms Evatt was a member of the UN
Human Rights Committee, and she was a Judge of the World Bank Administrative
Tribunal from 1998 to 2006. In 2003, she became a Commissioner of the
International Commission of Jurists.
Ms Evatt was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1982, in
recognition of services to the law, and was
granted the status of Companion of the Order of Australia, Australia’s highest
civil honour, in 1995. The latter citation was awarded ‘in recognition of
service to the law, social justice and to the promotion of human rights
worldwide, particularly in the areas of equal opportunity and
anti-discrimination legislation and practice.’
During her time as PIAC
Chair, Ms Evatt led PIAC’s call for a Stolen Generations Tribunal to address injustice arising from the forced
removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
from their parents.
In a statement PIAC issued in May 2001, Ms Evatt said
the Federal Government should move forward from denying the stolen generations
and establish a tribunal to make amends for the harm done.
‘The proposed reparations tribunal is a practical
alternative to governments defending legal claims by members of the stolen
‘Savings from legal bills, estimated to be tens of
millions of dollars so far, could be directed to positive programs and support
for families and people affected.
‘The tribunal would be a forum for people to put on
the public record what happened to them, and to seek funding for activities
such as family reunions, counselling, memorials, community education and
compensation,’ Ms Evatt said.
The proposal for a Stolen Generations Tribunal was a
joint project initiated by PIAC, the National Sorry Day Committee, the Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and
stolen generations groups.
Photo: Sydney Law School