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Chief Justice Terence Higgins (Australia)

Recipient of the 2008 Ireland Medal 

Terence Higgins was born in Hobart, Tasmania but was educated in St. Augustines Christian Brothers College in Yarraville, Victoria, and later at St. Edmund’s College, Canberra, and at the Australian National University, Canberra.

He first practiced law in the firm J.J. O’Neill, Solicitor in 1967 and remained until 1971 when he became a partner in the firm Higgins Faulks & Martin.

He was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and served at the bar as a Queen’s Council from 1987 to 1990. He was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia and a resident Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory in 1990.

He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory in 2003. In 2008 he was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia.

He is Chairperson of St. Edmund’s College  Board, Chairperson of the Open Family Foundation ACT, Chairperson of the Australian National University’s Legal Workshop Committee, is a member of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences and is a member of the Australian Defence Forces Health Research Committee.

He is an Honorary Air Commodore of the City of Canberra RAAF Squadron and was appointed as Honorary Ambassador for the ACT in 2004.  He is serving his second term as National President of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia (RLSSA).

Terence Higgins has been President of the RLSSA ACT Branch since 1993, has served as National President of RLSSA (1997 – 2003), after which he served as RLSSA’s International Development Liaison Officer until beginning his second term as national President in 2009. He has been Legal Advisor to RLSSA since 1993. 

During his first term as National President of the Royal Life Saving Society Australia he presided over a time of unprecedented growth of revenue, which increased by over 500%, and saw close to one million Australians taking part in RLSSA courses annually.

He oversaw the development of national sponsorship and fundraising programmes and implemented significant changes to the governance structures of RLSSA which ensured that RLSSA was a driving force in the development and implementation of the Australian Water Safety Plan 1998 – 2003.

In 2003 he was elected as the International Life Saving (ILS) Asia Pacific Regional Development Co-ordinator and interim chair of the ILS Development Aid Commission (2003 – 2004). 

His mother’s great grandfather, Patrick Casey of Co. Westmeath, was transported to Hobart Town for stealing a sack of grain. His father’s great grandfather, John Hussey Higgins, emigrated to Victoria from Dublin.