Achieving a just, democratic, peaceful and humane society through upholding human rights and the rule of law.

John Gibson Award – Nomination for 2018 Award Open

The winner of the 2017 John Gibson Award is The Honourable Ron Merkel QC.

The Hon Ron Merkel QC accepting the 2017 John Gibson Award.

The Hon Ron Merkel QC accepting the 2017 John Gibson Award.

Ron Merkel has devoted much of his working life to the cause of human rights, refugees and public interest issues.  Both before and after his time as a judge of the Federal Court, he has donated very significant time to pro bono cases for worthy causes.

Since retiring from the bench, Ron has devoted his considerable energies and talents to helping people otherwise outgunned in litigation in a huge variety of worthy causes.  Not all his work is known publicly.  ICJ Victoria ‘briefed’ him to advise on behalf of some Fiji lawyers concerning the deteriorating situation in Fiji, when legal practitioners were uncertain whether to practice before the highly biased courts being set up by the military dictator there.

Listing his pro bono appearances in the High Court is no easy task.  He appeared in the Williams chaplaincy challenges; he led Richard Niall in the Wurridjal case; he appeared in the Jack Thomas case.  He has appeared in numerous refugee cases, most recently the case of the 157 Tamils held for a month at sea.

Ron hardly needs introduction to the legal community.  He is extremely well recognized and of enormous standing.  Ron is so well recognized as a public interest pro bono advocate that an award has been established in his name by the Victorian Bar Pro Bono Committee – the Ron Merkel QC Award for pro bono work undertaken by barristers who are more than 15 years’ call or silks.

Ron has a lifetime of worthy achievement to be recognised.  It is fitting that some small part of that recognition include this award.


Jan Cossar and Harry Cossar-Gilbert accepting the 2016 John Gibson Award on behalf of W Guy Gilbert from Glenn McGowan QC.


2016: W. Guy Gilbert

2015: Nola Karapanagiotidis

2014: Richard Niall SC


Nominate for 2018 John Gibson Award

The ICJ Victoria calls for nominations for the John Gibson Award. The John Gibson Award is awarded in honour of the late John Gibson, who was a scholar, barrister, father, and outstanding and tireless human rights and refugee advocate.

Nominations close 15 December 2017

This Award has the following criteria, the recipient shall:

1. be a Victorian;

2. be a prominent advocate for human rights and/or refugee interests;

3. have distinguished him or herself by advancing and promoting human rights and/or refugee issues in the public domain or the legal sphere by positively and effectively advocating the interests of refugees, asylum seekers and/or sections of the community in need of assistance by reference to their human rights. Such advocacy may be in Courts, in the public domain, in private work or on committees. As a result, the recipient is likely to (but need not) be well known publicly or in the legal community.

To nominate someone for the 2018 John Gibson Award, please fill out the nomination form below.

Fill out my online form.