A new judge with extensive experience across the Territory has been appointed who will mainly preside at the Darwin Local Court.
Ms Thomasin Opie has a commitment to continuous learning and professional development and will officially be sworn in next month.
The appointment of Ms Opie will see the Territory achieve a gender equal bench for its Local Courts. This follows the same historic achievement for the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in 2020, marking the NT as the first jurisdiction to reach 50:50 gender representation for both its Local and Superior Courts.
Ms Opie was first admitted as a solicitor in 2001 and moved to the Northern Territory in 2002.
For almost two decades she has worked across the Territory, practising in the areas of criminal and child protection, as well as family and civil law.
Ms Opie has worked as a criminal law solicitor with the Katherine Regional Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, and in 2003 continued as a criminal lawyer at the Darwin Office of the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid service, representing clients for both the Local and Supreme Courts.
In 2004 Ms Opie commenced with the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission (NTLAC) and has undertaken a number of roles with the Commission including Outreach and Policy Solicitor; Family Lawyer; and Senior Crime Solicitor. During her time with NTLAC she has travelled to remote communities, providing advice regarding housing, tenancy, fines and debts, consumer issues, criminal law, child protection, medical negligence, compensation and family law.
Ms Opie’s current role is Coordinator of the Health Justice Partnership and as a Regional Manager at the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission, where she represents people who are homeless and suffer chronic illness or disability in civil law matters.
In addition to her professional work Ms Opie has a strong community focus and has volunteered across multiple community groups and organisations in the Territory including at the Katherine Women’s Crisis Centre, the Katherine Women’s Information and Legal Services, the Equity Learning Group, Katherine South Primary School, and the Big Rivers Domestic Violence Local Reference Group.
She was also the Chair of Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment Group to showcase the best practice in youth justice and justice reinvestment from around Australia in 2018.
Ms Opie replaces retiring Judge John Neill.
Quotes from Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Selena Uibo:
“Ms Opie has extensive experience working across the Top End for almost two decades, helping Territorians reach resolutions and understanding the issues that impact them.
“Her commitment to her professional work and her dedication to improving outcomes for the community through her volunteering is second to none.
“We look forward to welcoming Ms Opie into the Darwin Local Court next month.”
Quotes from NT Legal Aid Commission Regional Manager, Thomasin Opie:
“I am very pleased and excited to accept this appointment.
“While sad to leave the NT Legal Aid Commission and the town of Katherine, I hope to bring a regional and social justice focus to my work on the bench.”