Professor Kate Warner AC

28th Governor of Tasmania

2022 Tasmania Award Winner

Kate Warner was sworn into office as Tasmania’s 28th Governor on Wednesday 10 December 2014 and her term ended on 9 June 2021. Shortly after, she was appointed by the Premier to lead the Pathway to Truth-Telling and Treaty project, consulting with the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

As Governor, she was Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Peter Underwood Centre of Educational Attainment and took a keen interest in educational attainment and literacy. Reflecting her background in Criminology, she supported parenting programs at the women’s prison by attending many of the final session of these courses. In her speeches, she spoke frequently of the need to promote gender equality and tackle the problem of gender violence.  Engagement with the Aboriginal people of Tasmania and their organisations was also a focus of her term as Governor and led to her appointment to the Pathway project. 

Before her term as Governor, Kate Warner was a Professor, Faculty of Law, at the University of Tasmania and Director of the Tasmania Law Reform Institute.  During her career at the University, she held the positions of Dean, Faculty of Law, and Head of School.  Following her appointment as Governor, she was made a professor emeritus.

On 26 January 2014 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to the law, particularly in the areas of law reform and education.  On 26 January 2017 she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for her eminent service to the people of Tasmania through leading contributions to the legal community, to law reform, to higher education as an academic, researcher and publisher and as a supporter of the arts and environmental and social justice initiatives.

Her teaching interests included Criminal Law, Evidence, Criminology and Sentencing, and her research interests included Sentencing and Criminal Justice.  After her appointment as Governor, she continued her research in Sentencing, and continued to lead two ARC funded research projects on using juries to gauge public opinion on sentencing. Publications, conference presentations and media interviews describing the results of these projects have continued into 2021. When possible, she continued to review articles, examine PhD theses and supervise postgraduates (her last postgraduate to complete was Rhiannon Davies in 2017; her research was on victim impact statements in sexual offence cases).

She was a Commissioner of the Tasmanian Gaming Commission, with a particular interest in regulation, gaming policy and harm minimisation.

Professor Warner was a Member of the Sentencing Advisory Council (2010-2014) and assisted with the preparation of the Council’s discussion papers and reports.

She was a Member of the Board of Legal Education; a Member of the Council of Law Reporting; and Director, Centre for Legal Studies.

In addition to her work as Director of the Tasmania Law Reform Institute (2001-2014), she had been involved in providing advice and submissions on rape law reform, drug diversion and mental health diversion programs and abortion law reform.  She also assisted other law reform bodies nationally including the New South Wales Law Reform Commission and the Australian Law Reform Commission.

As the former President of the Alcorso Foundation, she supported social and cultural advancement in the community through its programs in the Arts, Environment and Social Justice.

She has received a number of awards and fellowships, including Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2007; Visiting Fellow All Souls College Oxford in 2009; the University of Tasmania Distinguished Service Medal in 2013; and the Women Lawyers Award for Leadership in 2013.  In December 2016 she was made a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology.

Kate Warner graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Tasmania in 1970, and a Master of Laws in 1978.  She served as associate to the former Chief Justice, Sir Stanley Burbury and was admitted to legal practice in 1971.  

She has published numerous journal articles, book chapters and law reform reports. She first published Sentencing in Tasmania in 1991, which has since become an indispensable tool for judges and magistrates.  She was a member of the editorial boards of Current Issues in Criminal Justice; Women Against Violence; and the Criminal Law Journal.  She contributed the annual Sentencing Review to the Criminal Law Journal from 1998 until 2014.  Related to her role with the Tasmania Law Reform Institute, she has written a number of papers and reports for the Board.