Pat O'Shane

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Patricia June "Pat" O'Shane AM (born 19 June 1941 in Mossman, Queensland) was a magistrate of the Local Court of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia until her retirement in 2013.[1][2]

A former head of the New South Wales Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, and aboriginal herself, O'Shane was appointed a magistrate in 1986.[1] She was Chancellor of the University of New England from 1994 to 2003.[3]

In 2013 Pat O'Shane was awarded a Deadly Award for lifetime achievement in leadership, being praised as a woman who "blazed a path for others to follow . . . she is a genuine and inspiring role model for others". Along with fellow Deadly 2013 winner Archie Roach, she used the win to call for an end to the Northern Territory Intervention.[4][5][6]

Australian Constitutional Convention[edit]

O'Shane was elected to the Australian Constitutional Convention 1998, which considered the issue of Australia becoming a republic. She advocated strongly for an Australian republic. In her opening address, she expressed a want for modification based on what she perceived as historical injustice and inadequacies within the Australian Constitution:[7]

That modern Australia, the Australia that has developed since 26 January 1788 as distinct from the Australia of my ancestors, has a constitutional monarchy is a direct unambiguous consequence of our origins as a colony of Britain — a penal colony at that. As such, it was underwritten with the values of power, privilege, elitism, oppression and dispossession. It was blatantly exclusionary. It is no wonder then that the Australian Constitution, designed to institute a constitutional monarchy as the system of government in this country, is such an inadequate and uncertain instrument as it is.

Academic criticism[edit]

A study in 2012 by Michael Eburn and Ruth Townsend of the Australian National University College of Law examined 56 Supreme Court appeals of cases heard before O'Shane between 1999 and 2012. Of the 56 appeals, 35 (62.5%) were upheld. Of the 16 criminal cases included, 14 appeals were upheld. Eburn and Townsend wrote: "The Supreme Court has found that O'Shane had got the law wrong in 14 out of the 16 criminal cases ... In one case she dismissed a charge even though the accused had entered a plea of guilty."[8]

Supreme Court judges have criticised O'Shane for "denying the prosecution procedural fairness," and "failure to comprehend the basis of the prosecution case or the evidence before her, use of intemperate language and making numerous errors of law." Eburn and Townsend compared the records of two other magistrates with similar experience and found only eight and nine appeals against them respectively.[8] They have called for O'Shane's resignation.[9]

Awards and honours[edit]

O'Shane was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1984, for public service in the field of Aboriginal welfare.[10] She was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 for service to Australian society and higher education.[11]

At the Deadly Awards 2013, O'Shane was presented with the Marcia Langton Award For Lifetime Achievement In Leadership.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Pat O'Shane". Schools TV. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 23 July 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "O'Shane, Pat". AustLit. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  3. ^ UNE - Governance.
  4. ^ [1].
  5. ^ [2].
  6. ^ [3].
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Jacobsen, Geesche. "Majority of appeals against O'Shane decisions upheld", Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Resignation now could help O'Shane preserve a proud legacy", Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2012.
  10. ^ O'SHANE, Patricia June, It's an Honour, 1984.
  11. ^ O'SHANE, Patricia June, It's an Honour, 2001.
  12. ^ Aboriginal magistrate Pat O'Shane, Archie Roach honoured at Deadly Awards, ABC News, 11 September 2013.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Rob Robertson-Cuninghame
Chancellor of the University of New England
Succeeded by
John Cassidy