Justice Michael Kirby at CSU Bathurst | Photos, pictures

ASK questions, join in, be engaged and grab opportunities to change the world around you, former High Court judge Michael Kirby said during his visit to Bathurst.

Justice Kirby was in Bathurst on Wednesday to deliver a free public lecture to the community at Charles Sturt University (CSU), and he stayed on to present workshops for law and justice students.

The lecture theatre was packed with almost 200 staff, students, community members and those in the legal profession, with some coming from as far away as Sydney and Dubbo.

The topic might have been International Human Rights Law Challenges at Home and in the Region, but for Justice Kirby, no topic was off the discussion list.

Following his lecture he welcomed questions, with everything from same-sex marriage to Aboriginal rights being discussed.

Justice Kirby said he looked towards his early years as a lawyer to inspire CSU’s next generation of law students.

“When I was a young lawyer at law school I didn’t put my hand up to ask questions about why we denied Aboriginal land rights or why we had the White Australia Policy or why we had laws against gays,” he said.

“I had every reason to investigate or enquire about these things [such as] the injustice and second class status of women.

“Every generation has to be looking into the future and looking into itself and examining injustices that exist in society and what can be done to right the wrongs.”

With CSU now in its second year of delivering the Bachelor of Laws degree, Justice Kirby had some advice for students.

“To be a joiner, to be engaged, to be concerned about other people and not just about number one,” he siad.

CSU Centre for Law and Justice acting director Dr Kath McFarlane said Justice Kirby encouraged people to have hope that they could change the world.

“He’s somebody that inspires you to think that there are huge problems in the world, but you can do something about it, however small that is,” she said.

“You have a role, an obligation and an opportunity to change the world.”

Dr McFarlane said it was a great honour to have Justice Kirby at the university.

“It’s just a great privilege to have one of the great legal minds and humanitarians of Australian society here in Bathurst,” she said.