Vale Peter O’Callaghan QC

ACU pays tribute to Peter O’Callaghan QC, an honorary degree recipient, who passed away on 8 March 2020.

ACU awarded Mr O’Callaghan the degree of Doctor of the University (honoris causa) in 2017, for his commitment to the Catholic Church in Victoria and his outstanding legal career.

From humble beginnings in Horsham, Victoria, Mr O’Callaghan was an inspiration for those who have struggled to find their footing in tertiary education.

Prior to his legal career, Mr O’Callaghan worked as a mechanic in his father’s business.A local doctor took note of Mr O’Callaghan’s academic potential, and encouraged him to go back to school. Fortified by the doctor’s faith in him, Mr O’Callaghan started an adult matriculation course via correspondence in 1954. With his outstanding results, he won a Commonwealth scholarship and enrolled in law at Melbourne University.

In 1960, he was admitted to practice as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria.A year later, he signed the Bar Roll and in 1974 took silk. Mr O’Callaghan went on to become the Senior Practising Barrister in Victoria in 2010, also serving the Victorian Bar through a number of voluntary positions.Mr O’Callaghan served his profession with great distinction while also raising a family of six children, each accomplished in their own fields.

Mr O’Callaghan also served as an independent commissioner to inquire into and advise the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne with respect to allegations of sexual misconduct within the Church. Accepting this difficult role as part of his community responsibility, Mr O’Callaghan served in this capacity over two decades.

Beyond his service to the Catholic Church, Mr O’Callaghan was passionate about sport and recreation. He served as an Appeals Board member of the Victorian Football League. He chaired the Appeals Board from 1993 until 1997 and also served as an AFL Disciplinary Committee member. When the AFL Tribunal Appeals Board was established, Mr O’Callaghan served as Chair.

A faithful Catholic, active legal practitioner, and devoted family man, Mr O’Callaghan was a model of community values.


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