Dr Eileen Baldry awarded the 2009 Justice Medal

8 Oct 2009

Dr Eileen Baldry, the winner of the 2009 Justice Medal, has a reputation as an outstanding and extraordinarily engaged academic and activist. Says one colleague: "It doesn't matter where you go or what you do in the field of criminal justice, she is either there or has been there."

Currently an Associate Professor at the University of NSW, Dr Baldry has made a major contribution over decades to improving access to justice for prisoners and people with mental disability or cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system.

Her work is recognised where it matters, by the government agencies making policy affecting these groups, and by the various organisations providing services to those in need.

The allocation of new Commonwealth and State government funding for homelessness in NSW, for example, reflects greater importance placed on post-release accommodation and support, due in part to Eileen's research that has increased understanding of the link between homelessness and recidivism.

Many community-based organisations like the Community Restorative Centre, which supports prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, also act on her research findings.

Outside work Dr Baldry has devoted many unpaid hours to leading and supporting voluntary organisations and helping the people affected by criminal justice policy in NSW to have their voices heard in policy debate.

She is the co-founder of the Beyond Bars Alliance, a coalition of church and community groups, academics, activists and committed individuals who believe in finding alternatives to imprisonment.

Dr Baldry's record of achievement says a lot about her strengths as a person.

A colleague explains: "There may be other academics who know as much as she does but none of them is as available as she is ... She's very open, very non-judgmental and incredibly supportive. She respects anyone who'll have a go. She is very giving and empowering of people - perhaps that's her real skill set."

Dr Baldry, a non-lawyer, received her Award from former Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE, at a dinner at Parliament House on 1 October 2009.

The Justice Medal is the premier award presented at the annual Justice Awards. It goes to an individual for outstanding achievement in improving access to justice in NSW, particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged people.