The Bill Cowan Alumnus of the Year Award recognises prominent alumni who have made an exceptional contribution to the College or achieved outstanding success in service to the wider community during the previous year.
In its third year, the award is named in honour of Mr Bill Cowan AM, who continues to contribute his time and energy to countless endeavours in support of students both past and present.
At the 2016 Union of the Fleur-de-Lys, Drinks Under the Oak, Professor Ken Hinchcliff proudly announced that this year’s winner is human rights lawyer Julian McMahon. Last October Julian was named 2016 Victorian Australian of the Year for his work as a barrister, human rights advocate and fierce opponent of the death penalty.
Julian is a truly inspirational role model, who has succeeded in making a real difference to people’s lives, and a very worthy recipient of the award.
Julian was in residence and tutored at Trinity in the late 1980s, completing his Law Arts degree at the University in 1991. He joined the Victorian Bar in 1998. Since then his practice has been in criminal matters, and for the last 12 years he has represented, on a pro bono basis, Australians facing the death penalty, a practice he has passionately fought against for many years.
In the frenetic months before the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia on 29 April 2015, the staggering demands of the case required total commitment to his clients, and he chose to refuse all other work.
We were very pleased that Julian was able to attend the Drinks Under the Oak to accept the award. In his acceptance speech, Julian reminisced about his days in College and lamented that his work commitments had hindered more frequent connection with the College. We look forward to welcoming him back more often.