The Honourable Justice Jennifer Coate was appointed as a Judge of the Family Court of Australia in 2013. Justice Coate was also appointed as one of the six Commissioners of the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2013.
Prior to this appointment she held a number of appointments including those of Judge of the County Court of Victoria, the first female State Coroner of Victoria, the inaugural President of the Children’s Court of Victoria and Senior Magistrate, Deputy Chief Magistrate, and Magistrate of the Magistrate’s Court of Victoria.
During her time as President of the Children’s Court of Victoria, Justice Coate oversaw the establishment of the Children’s Koori Court and the introduction of restorative justice conferencing for young offenders.
During her time as State Coroner, Justice Coate oversaw the development and introduction of the Coroners Act 2008, the development of the prevention focus of the newly established Court and the publication of coronial decisions.
Justice Coate has also worked as a part-time Law Reform Commissioner, a solicitor in private practice, a solicitor for the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria, and in policy and research for the Victorian Government.
Justice Coate grew up in Dandenong, and completed her schooling at Lyndale High School in North Dandenong. She initially trained and worked as a teacher after completing a Teaching diploma at Frankston Teachers’ College. During those teaching years, she completed an Arts degree majoring in English Literature and Linguistics and later returned to study full time, completing a Law degree at Monash University.
Justice Coate has served on a number of committees and boards during her career including Commissioner (part time) with the Victorian Law Reform Commission; Chair of the Co-ordinated Health Services for Abused Victorian Children; Member of the Standing Committee of Australian and New Zealand Youth and Children’s Courts; Police Youth Issues Group; University of Melbourne Forensic Psychology Advisory Board; Victoria Police Ethical Standards Consultative Committee; Family Violence Protocols Committee; Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Coronial Council; Patron of Chances for Children and for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Australia Mentoring Program; and as an Ambassador for Whitelion.