The Honourable Justice Anthe Philippides on her legal career and passion for the arts

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Recently retired Queensland Court of Appeal judge, the Honourable Anthe Philippides, has always been a trailblazer for cultural diversity and the arts in the state’s legal system.

This is especially clear in her recent interview with The Contact Magazine, where she stresses how the arts are essential for all university students “no matter what career one pursues.”

“After all, music can be a tool for reconciliation; visual arts can provide solace and beauty; architecture literally affects how we live; theatre brings thoughts and feelings to life; while language and history provide a framework from which we can grow and communicate,” Justice Philippides tells the magazine.

“From a career viewpoint, I quickly realised that law doesn’t exist in a vacuum and that the arts were a good vehicle for looking at how the law operated and whether it could be improved. Arts provide a different perspective.”

Recently retired Queensland Court of Appeal judge, the Honourable Anthe Philippides.

While some might say Justice Philippides is biased in this opinion as she grew up in a proud Greek Cypriot household that revered the arts and multiculturalism, that’s not entirely true. While this aspect of her family life did influence her arts passion in some way, her family’s philanthropy also had a hand to play in the legal career she chose.

“As a child, I remember our house always being open, hosting fundraisers for various charities. Looking out for others was a big part of my upbringing and the arts, particularly music, played a major role in achieving this,” Justice Philippides says.

Becoming the first woman of Hellenic heritage admitted to the Queensland Bar:

Once her decision was made, Justice Philippides went to the University of Queensland in the late 1970s to enrol in arts/law degrees and she never looked back.

In 1982, she became the first female to win a British Council Commonwealth scholarship to complete a Master of Law at Cambridge.

Later, in 1984, she became the first woman of Hellenic heritage to be admitted to the Queensland Bar and, in 1999, to attain silk in Australia.

In 2000, she became a judge in the Supreme Court of Queensland, a position she held until 2014, when she moved over to the Queensland Court of Appeal. They were also firsts for a woman of Hellenic heritage.

Justice Philippides became the first woman of Hellenic heritage admitted to the Queensland Bar.

“I think of the law as an evolving system of rules and principles for dealing with society’s disputes and of governing society, and it has been a huge privilege for me to have played a role in it, including presiding over criminal trials, determining civil cases, mediating between people bringing deep grievances to the Court, and considering difficult issues at an appellate level,” Justice Philippides told The Contact Magazine.

“I’m also glad to have played a role in changing the perception of ‘what a judge looks like’.”

Promoting diversity and the arts:

When Justice Philippides isn’t doing all of the above and juggling her demanding public career, she’s also always seen making a foray into the arts and fighting for equality.

In 1999, she helped establish a mentoring scheme for the Bar Association of Queensland, designed to help those traditionally under-represented at the Bar – women and those with Indigenous or rural backgrounds – to link with barristers and gain practical experience in the profession.

“I believe everyone deserves respect, and no-one should feel excluded because of their cultural background or lack of contacts,” she says.

“A respectful working environment, where people can be their authentic selves, is a large part of providing a credible system of justice, and diversity can only empower us all.”

Justice Philippides has also become a ‘donor with purpose,’ contributing her time and money to various cultural activities and organisations she admired.

Justice Anthe Philippides with graduates of UQ’s InspireU program. Image supplied / The Contact Magazine.

From 1988 until 2000, her Honour served as Honorary Vice Consul in Brisbane for the Republic of Cyprus. She was part of a group that established the Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association in 2015 to celebrate Hellenic ideals and promote cultural harmony and diversity, and is now its Queensland patron.

Currently, she is also a director of Musica Viva Australia, and has helped establish TLF Creative, an orchestra and arts-based group that provides an inclusive and creative space for legal professionals and law students.

But now that she’s retiring from the legal profession she has served so well, what’s Justice Philippides looking forward to the most? Spending time “doing good things with good people,” she told The Contact Magazine.

“Promoting diversity, particularly in the arts, listening to different opinions, and finding better answers to the difficult questions we must face to empower those from diverse backgrounds and create a more inclusive society are my passions going forward.”

A worthy cause from an inspirational individual.

Angelo Tsarouchas Skits and Wits tour

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