This is an archived website that was produced by Screen Australia Digital Learning. See all Digital Learning websites.
Dame Roma Mitchell
Biographical Information
home search help
Dame Roma Mitchell photo
Lawyer and Governor, Born 1913, Adelaide SA, Died 2000

Roma Mitchell was the daughter of a solicitor killed in the First World War. Mitchell's mother, who believed in tertiary education for women, put her through a law course at the University of Adelaide during the early years of the Depression. She graduated in December 1934, and the following February began as a barrister with an Adelaide law firm.

During the 1930s she did much work in the field of domestic violence. At first, Mitchell says, her main aim was simply to be a good barrister. In 1962 she became the first Australian woman to be admitted as a Queen's Counsel. Then, in 1965, she became a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the first woman in Australia to be appointed to that position. She also led a deputation of women seeking the right for women to serve as jurors.

Among other appointments, Dame Roma has been Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, President of the Churchill Fellowship and Chancellor of the University of Adelaide. She was awarded the OBE in 1971 and in 1991 was appointed Governor of South Australia, again becoming the first woman in Australia to hold that post.

full interview
brief biography
study guide
buy the tape
Copyright & Legal
Australian Biography