Dame Roma Mitchell (1913 – 2000)

Roma Mitchell was born in Adelaide in 1913. She attended St Aloysius College from 1919 to 1930 and was dux of the school in 1929 and 1930. She won a scholarship to study law at Adelaide University, receiving her degree in 1934.

Dame Roma was an advocate for women’s rights, supporting equal pay for women and the right of women to sit on juries. She was a great role model for women, achieving many ‘firsts’ in her career.

1962 – First Australian woman appointed to the Queen’s Counsel

1965 – 1983 First woman to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia. She was still the only female judge in South Australia when she retired 18 years later in 1983.

1979 – 1981 – Chairman of the South Australian Parole Board

1981 – 1986 – Chairman of the Commonwealth Human Rights Commission

1981 – 1990 – Member of the Council for the Order of Australia

1983 – 1990 – Chancellor of the University of Adelaide (first woman Chancellor in an Australian university)

1991 – 1996 – Governor of South Australia (first woman Governor in Australia)

1996 – 2000 – Chair of the Ministerial Board on Ageing (South Australia)

Dame Roma Mitchell
National Archives of Australia 1965
students
Sr Judith Redden, SAC students with Dame Roma Mitchell at Government House. From St Aloysius College Archives

Awards:

1971 – Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to Law

1982 – Created Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her service to the community

1991 – Appointed Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Australia’s highest civilian honour, for services to the law, to learning, and to the community

2000 – Made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO), receiving her honour directly from The Queen in a private investiture.

References

Heywood, A 2017, Mitchell, Roma Flinders (1913 – 2000), The Australian Women’s Register, viewed 27 September 2020, <http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0002b.htm>.

National Archives of Australia 1965, Roma Mitchell in 1965, wearing the robes and wig of a Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, Photograph, Wikimedia Commons, viewed 27 September 2020, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roma_Mitchell_1965.jpg>, Creative Commons license: <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en>.