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Vale The Honourable Stephen Thackray

A sorrow in this challenged era is our friends, fellow citizens, and great community contributors pass without the recognition at burial that comforts families and, on occasions, acknowledges greatness. There have been several such in this period. One is the passing of Stephen Thackray, former Chief Judge of the Family Court of WA.


This is a real shock. He was 65. He retired 5 years before the statutory time. He had served in judicial office for 22 years. It seems only yesterday we were swearing in his successor and farewelling him.


One of the privileges of this job has been to get to know the members of WA’s judiciary. We are well served. Sometimes they have had to fight for aspects of the status of the law and their jurisdiction. In Stephen Thackray’s case it was from the downgrading of the status of the Family Court.


He was a kindly man with a broad empathy with the community and therefore those before him. A childhood in Mogumber probably helped. It gave him a deep experience of the Aboriginal community particularly members of the stolen generation.


Nobody feels good in the Family Court and a few emerge very unhappy. It is hard for a judge not to come into the focus of the litigants hence added security in parts of Australia at times. Stephen Thackray’s temperament and demeanour were perfect. Unfailingly polite and sympathetic.


His extensive legal career has been well remembered by the Attorney General and numbers of his friends and fellow practitioners. He deserved a long and happy retirement. He did not get it. Deepest sympathy to his wife Janet, his children Amanda and James and his daughter-in-law Leandri.

The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia

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