Richard Chisholm grew up in Sydney and did his undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney (BA, LLB, 1968) and his post graduate degree at Oxford (BCL, 1970), after which he was an academic at the University of New South Wales Law School, specialising in family law. In the 1970s he was a founding member of the Aboriginal Legal Service, and the founding President of the children’s rights group Action for Children.
He was appointed as a Judge of the Family Court of Australia in 1993. On his retirement in 2004, he resumed academic work, and was appointed Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Sydney, and, after his move to Canberra in 2006, Adjunct Professor at the ANU College of Law. He was awarded the AM in 2009 for ‘service to the judiciary, to the law and to legal education, particularly in the field of family law and the welfare and rights of children and young people’.
He has worked with a variety of organisations, including the Family Law Council, the Australian Law Reform Commission, the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, and the NSW Child Protection Council. Since leaving the bench he has continued to research and publish on family law. His recent work includes collaborative projects with the Attorney-General’s Department, Professor Patrick Parkinson, Professor Bruce Smyth, Dr Jenn McIntosh and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (he was appointed a member of its Advisory Council in 2012). His report, the Family Courts Violence Review, was released by the Commonwealth Attorney-General in 2010. As well as family law, he is currently interested in what lawyers and legal scholars might learn from current understandings about cognition and heuristics, as illustrated by such publications as Daniel Kahneman’s 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' (2011).
Significant research publications
- Family Courts Violence Review (Attorney-General’s Department (Cth), 2009).
- ‘Values and Assumptions in Judicial Decisions’ (delivered at the conference ‘Judicial Reasoning: Art or Science’ Australian National University, Canberra, 7 & 8 February 2009.)
- Australian Family Law (LexisNexis/ Butterworths: on-line and loose-leaf, in four vols, current (with specialist authors).
- 'Family Law' in Freckleton and Selby, ed, Appealing to the Future: Michael Kirby and his Legacy, Thomson Reuters, 2009, 403-419.
- ‘Information Rights and Donor Conception: Lessons from Adoption’ (2012) 19 Journal of Law and Medicine 722-741.
- 'Child abuse allegations in family law cases: A review of the law' (2011) 25 Australian Journal of Family Law 1-32.
- ‘The meaning of “meaningful”: Exploring a key term in the Family Law Act amendments of 2006’ (2008) 22(3) Australian Journal of Family Law 175-196.
- ‘Cautionary notes on the shared care of children in conflicted parental separation’ (2008) 14 Journal of Family Studies (2008) 37–52 (with Jenn McIntosh).
- ’Exploring options for parental care of children following separation: A primer for family law specialists' (2006) 20(2) Australian Journal of Family Law 193-218 (with Bruce Smyth).
- ‘The Paramount Consideration: children’s interests in family law’ (2002) 16 Australian Journal of Family Law 87-115.
- ‘Reasonable practicability as a requirement: The High Court’s decision in MRR v GR’ (2010) 24Australian Journal of Family Law 255 (with Patrick Parkinson).
- Understanding Law, Butterworths, Sydney, 8th edition, 2012 (with G. Nettheim and H Chisholm).
- R Chisholm, ‘Black Children: White Welfare? Legal and Policy Issues, in Aboriginal Child Welfare in New South Wales’, Sydney, Social Welfare Research Centre, 1985.