Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC is a retired barrister, writer and activist. He was born and educated (Scotch College) in Melbourne and graduated LLM, LLB, BA from
Melbourne University in 1971. He thereafter lectured at Monash University law school, worked with Kirby J at the Australian Law Reform Commission in Sydney,
and joined the Victorian Bar in 1981. He was junior counsel for the plaintiffs
throughout the Mabo litigation (1982 – 1992); has acted for claimants in many native title and immigration
matters in the Federal Court; has appeared in the High Court in significant constitutional, native title and refugee matters; and has
written and lectured extensively on Indigenous rights.
He took silk in 1996 and retired from active practice in 2016.
During the 1980's he was a committee member, including Secretary, of the Victorian Council for
Civil Liberties (now Liberty Victoria). During 2012-2014, he was President of COIN ("Commission of Inquiry Now"), a community group advocating for victims of child sexual abuse.
On 26 January 2012 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for
services to the law especially the development of Indigenous rights. In May 2012, Bryan graduated PhD from Monash University following publication of his thesis/book: Mabo in
the Courts: Islander Tradition to Native Title: a Memoir.
He is married to June, a lawyer. They have three daughters and four grandchildren.
"a wonderful story in human terms, it’s an important story in legal terms, and most
significantly, it’s a very important story for the integrity of Australia as a just nation."
The Hon Michael Kirby