Roma Mitchell

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The Honourable
Dame Roma Mitchell
Dame roma mitchell.jpg
Statue of Dame Roma Mitchell, North Terrace, Adelaide
31st Governor of South Australia
In office
6 February 1991 – 21 July 1996
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Sir Donald Dunstan
Succeeded by Sir Eric Neal
Personal details
Born (1913-10-02)2 October 1913
Adelaide, South Australia
Died 5 March 2000(2000-03-05) (aged 86)
Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Education St Aloysius College, Adelaide
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Profession Judge

Dame Roma Flinders Mitchell AC, DBE, CVO, QC (2 October 1913 – 5 March 2000)[1] was an Australian lawyer, judge and state governor. Mitchell was the first Australian woman to be a judge, a Queen's Counsel, a chancellor of an Australian university and the Governor of an Australian state.

Dame Roma Mitchell was considered to be a pioneer of the Australian women's rights movement. Her grandfather, Samuel James Mitchell, was the first Chief Justice of the Northern Territory.

Early life and education[edit]

Roma Mitchell was born in Adelaide in 1913, the second daughter and youngest child of Harold and Maude Mitchell (née Wickham). She was an alumna of St Aloysius Convent College, Adelaide and the University of Adelaide.[2]


Mitchell was made a Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1965. She was still the only female judge in South Australia when she retired 18 years later in 1983 although Justices Elizabeth Evatt and Mary Gaudron had been appointed to federal courts by the Whitlam Government.

She was Governor of South Australia from 1991 to 1996, the first female Governor in Australia. Mitchell also served as Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1983 to 1990 and was a member of the Council for the Order of Australia from 1981 to 1990.


Roma Mitchell was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) on 12 June 1971.[3] She was raised to Dame Commander (DBE) on 12 June 1982.[4]

On 26 January 1991, Dame Roma was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Australia's highest civilian honour, for services to the law, to learning, and to the community.[5]

She was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) on 1 January 2000.[6] Dame Roma received her honour directly from The Queen of Australia in a private investiture.

Roma Mitchell Secondary College in northern Adelaide was named for Dame Roma. One of the Bay class patrol boats operated by the Australian Customs is named ACV Dame Roma Mitchell.


  1. ^ "Index Mf-Mn". Rulers. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Roe, Jill (Autumn 2008). "Review of Roma the First: A biography of Dame Roma Mitchell, by Susan Magarey and Kerrie Round" (PDF). Journal of Historical Biography. 4: 138–141. 
  3. ^ It's an Honour: CBE
  4. ^ It's an Honour: DBE
  5. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  6. ^ It's an Honour: CVO

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Lieutenant-General Sir Donald Dunstan
Governor of South Australia
Succeeded by
Sir Eric Neal