The Hon Jane Mathews AO, former barrister, judge and life member of the Bar Association, died on Saturday night. The career of Jane Mathews was pioneering in the true sense of the word, marked as it was by a string of 'firsts'.
She began practising at the New South Wales Bar in June 1969. In 1977 she became the state's first female Crown prosecutor. In 1980 she became the first woman judge in New South Wales upon her appointment to the District Court. In 1987 she became the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. In 1994 she went to the Federal Court of Australia and subsequently served as president of the AAT and then deputy-president of the Native Title Tribunal. Jane retired from the Federal Court in April 2001. In 2005 Jane was made an officer in the Order of Australia for 'service to the judiciary, to the legal profession, to the University of New South Wales, and to music'. She was awarded life membership of the Bar Association in 2011.
Speaking on behalf of the New South Wales and Australian Bar Associations upon Jane's retirement from the Federal Court in 2001, Ruth McColl SC spoke of the barriers which Jane Mathews and other women barristers of her era had to overcome. That speech is available here. Jane was interviewed by Juliette Brodsky as part of the Bar Association's legal history program on Pioneering Women. Jane was also interviewed by Tina Jowett for  (Summer) Bar News, which you can view here.
Members will be advised of funeral arrangements as soon as they are known.