Peter Norden - Curriculum Vitae

Peter Norden AO is a person with a broad range of expertise and experience within the non-government social services sector and within the government community relations sector.  He is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University.

As an Adjunct Professor in the School of Global Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, from 2012 – 2017 he was actively involved in guest teaching, in social work, criminology, mental health, legal studies and social policy. His company ‘Norden Directions’ provides consultancy to both the government and the non-government services sector.

In 2016, Peter was appointed a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology ‘for his contribution to the field of criminal justice over 40 years’.

With more than thirty years’ experience as an energetic and creative leader in the non-government sector community services field, in recent years he has drawn on that experience in the academic, consultancy and media field.

Recent consultancy work has included projects with Red Cross Australia, Edmund Rice Education Australia, Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand and with FMSA Architecture, concerning plans for the new Juvenile Justice facility and a specialist unit within Barwon Prison.  In recent times, Peter also completed a major project with the Victorian Department of Health, in the area of mental health promotion, a strategic planning task with The Pennington Institute, Australia’s drug harm reduction agency, a culture and training consultation with Victoria Police, and in June 2014 with the Northern Territory Department of Justice.

On Australia Day 2007, Peter was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia ‘for services to community development through social research and programs aimed at assisting marginalized young people and offenders, to the mental health sector in Australia’.

In 2019, Peter was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Deakin University ‘for eminent and sustained service to the Australian non-government sector in the field of community services.’

Recent Academic and Professional Publications

November 2021: Published: ‘Seeking Justice in the criminal justice system in Australia. learning from the past and planning for a better future’. (pp. 446).

December 2019: Presented at the ANZSOC Conference at the University of Western Australia: ‘Crime Prevention: more than graffiti removal and lighting’

June 2019: Published: ‘Solitary Confinement in Australian Prisons… the imposition of a further punishment other than that imposed by the courts?’.

January 2019: Published: ‘Misguided Kindness or Genocide: Aboriginal Massacres in Australian history... Could they amount to Genocide according to current International Law?’

December 2018: Presented at the ANZSOC Conference at the University of Melbourne: ‘The Path Towards Prison Abolition’.

September 2018: Presented the Inaugural Professor Tony Vinson Memorial Lecture at the University of New South Wales on the topic:

‘Whatever happened to Prison as a Last Resort? Time now to consider the path towards abolition’. Available on ABC Radio National’s ‘Big Ideas’ Podcast.

December 2017: Presented two papers at the ANZSOC Conference in Canberra on Indigenous Genocide and Solitary Confinement in prisons.

July 2017: Presented at the Law Institute of Victoria’s Criminal Law Conference on ‘Practice Management in Criminal Law’.

May 2017: Presented at Parliament House Melbourne Seminar on ‘Troubled Youth and Crime Prevention’.

February 2017: Coordinated a memorial outside Pentridge Prison to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the execution of Ronald Ryan.

January 2017: Published ‘The Brosnan Centre: from community service to social action’, reflecting on 40 years in the community services sector.

December 2016: Presented two papers at the Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, in Hobart, on Carl William’s death in Barwon Prison and isolation regimes in Risdon Prison.

December 2016: Published ‘Safe and Inclusive Learning Communities’ for Edmund Rice Education Australia’s 53 secondary schools.

April 2016: Appointed a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology for services to the criminal justice field over a period of 40 years

February 2016: Published article in the Australian Journal of Human Rights (22/1) ‘Not So Straight: engaging same sex attracted students.’

2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012:  Awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the Vice Chancellor of RMIT University as ‘One of RMIT’s Top Media Performers for the Year’.

June 2015: Consultation within the Northern Territory, meeting with the Attorney General and Commissioner of Correctional Services.

Evaluation visit to newly constructed 1100 bed prison.

Keynote speaker at public forum on ‘Justice Reinvested: Alternatives to the Super Prison’.

Conducted an in-service training for the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) on ‘Best practice methods between NGOs and Government’.

October 2014:  Presented two papers at the Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, University of Sydney, on the Victorian Parole Board and High-Speed Police Pursuits.

August 2014:  Keynote speaker at the Annual Conference of the Northern Mallee and Loddon Murray Leaders, held at Victorian University campus:  The Changing Shape of Australian Society. 

May 2014:  Panellist with the Victorian Attorney General, Robert Clark, at the Wheeler Centre public forum:  Crime and Punishment: public safety?

May 2014:  Guest Lecturer at the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science for psychiatric and psychologist staff and trainees:  Working with Complex Personalities within the Criminal Justice System.

February 2013:  Appointed a member of the Victorian Department of Justice’s “Human Research Ethics Committee”.

November 2012:  Presented two papers at the Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference, Auckland, New ZealandCorrelates of Crime; Social Responses to Crime.

October 2012:  Keynote Speaker at the Annual Conference of Victoria Legal Aid:  Modernising the Criminal Law.

January 2012:  Keynote Speaker at the Opening of the Victorian Legal Year, Melbourne Country Court.

January 2012:  On the invitation of the Chief Commissioner of Police, Ken Lay, undertook a month-long consultancy on Victoria Police culture, training and engagement with the wider community. 

June 2011:  Conducted consultancy with drug harm reduction agency, The Pennington Institute: completed an analysis of the organisation and arranged and facilitated meetings with the Federal Health Minister and Shadow Minister, and the current Prime Minister, at Parliament House.

April 2011:  Conducted consultancy with the Victorian Department of Health:  Melbourne’s Future Growth: crime prevention and mental health promotion.

November 2010:  Presented the prestigious 32nd Annual John Barry Memorial Lecture at the University of Melbourne, conducted each year since 1972 by the School of Social and Political Sciences.

August 2010:  Visiting Professorial Fellow at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, VietnamClinical Diagnosis and Assessment in Social Work. Intensive four week in-service to 85 academic staff involved in social work training.  Funded by UNICEF.

Criminal Justice Field: Key Professional Experience

1.      Program Manager: Developed an innovative post-release program for high-risk young offenders and implemented and managed the program within a community setting.

2.      Policy Director: Engaged political, governmental and media and wider public stakeholders in criminal justice policy debate and advocacy, in relation to prison, community corrections and criminal justice policy more broadly.

3.      Crime Prevention: Working from inner city location, addressed the security and management concerns of public housing high-rise estates, and implemented community development programs aimed at increasing crime prevention.

4.      Case Manager: Undertook long-term case management responsibility for maximum security offenders within a custodial environment.

5.      Research Manager: Project managed a series of national research projects, identifying the correlation between multiple disadvantage factors and criminality, at a postcode level.

6.      International Study Tours: completed extensive study tours of the criminal justice systems in the United States, the U.K., Sweden, Holland and Hong Kong, including the private prison system in U.S.

7.      Public Advocate: Convened the Victorian Criminal Justice Coalition over more than a decade, acting as a public watchdog in relation to criminal justice administration and community accountability.

8.      Diversion Program Director: designed and implemented criminal justice diversion programs in the mental health and substance misuse areas, including a dual disability community treatment program.

9.      Courts, Police, Parole: worked extensively with the criminal court system, including recent consultations with the N.T. Government, Victoria Police and the Adult Parole Board in Victoria, and expert witness evidence in Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria.

10.  Expert Witness in maximum security prison environments: submitted recent reports for the Supreme Courts of Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland in civil actions on behalf of inmates or former inmates.

Career Summary

Peter Norden AO (Bachelor of Arts, Post Graduate Diploma in Social Studies, Master of Social Work, Master of Human Rights Law) is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University.

Peter was the Senior Catholic Chaplain to the Victorian Prison System from 1985-1992, where he worked daily in maximum security prison regimes including Pentridge, Barwon Prison, and the then Melbourne Reception Prison in Spencer Street.

Peter was the Policy Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria from 1992-1995, where he acted as spokesperson for the Catholic Church on social welfare and social justice issues and was responsible for high level engagement with State and Federal Government representatives.

Peter was the Executive Director of Jesuit Social Services from 1995-2002.  From 2002 - 2007, Peter continued as Policy Director of Jesuit Social Services, acting during that period as a National Board Member of ACOSS (The Australian Council of Social Services), and of Catholic Social Services Australia.  As Policy Director of Jesuit Social Services, he undertook and project managed three major national research projects on mapping social disadvantage and social cohesion, and on how educational authorities could manage illicit drug use and promote youth suicide prevention.

On Australia Day 2007, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australiafor services to community development through social research and programs aimed at assisting marginalized young people and offenders, to the mental health sector, and to the Catholic Church in Australia”.

From 2009 – 2011 he was appointed a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne, based in the Melbourne Law School.

From 2011 – 2017 he taught Graduate and Post Graduate Courses at RMIT University in Mental Health Policy and Practice, Advanced Mental Health, Legal and Justice Issues for Young People, Welfare Law, Influencing Social Policy, Values and Public Policy, Deviance and Social Control.

In 2016, he was made a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology for his contribution to the Australian criminal justice sector in Australia.

In 2018, he was made an Honorary Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University.

In 2019, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Deakin University ‘for eminent and sustained service to the Australian non-government sector in the field of community services.’

Contact Details

Postal Address:

P.O. Box 12

Bentleigh, Victoria 3204

Mobile                   0409 0409 94





Academic Qualifications


University of Melbourne (1976)

Jesuit Theological College and Melbourne College of Divinity


Career Appointments


Recent Appointments

Honorary Fellow, Honorary Doctorate

School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University (February 2018 – current)

In this role, Peter has presented such major public lectures as the Inaugural Professor Tony Vinson Memorial Lecture at the University of New South Wales on the topic: ‘The Path Towards Prison Abolition’ a lecture which is still available on the ABC Radio National ‘Big Ideas’ podcast.

He also presented the Opening Address at the Reintegration Puzzle National Conference in Hobart in June 2018 on the topic:

‘Smarter Justice must learn from the past’.

In November 2018 he presented the Keynote Address to the NSW Teachers Federation Conference in Sydney on the topic:

‘Essential Ethical Foundations for programs of equity in relation to disability’.

Adjunct Professor, R.M.I.T. University (2003-2018)

School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

As an Adjunct Professor at R.M.I.T. University, Peter contributed to the media, recognised each year as ‘One of RMIT’s top media performers.’  He taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in social work, social science and mental health areas. 

His teaching commitments within the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at R.M.I.T. included: Legal and Justice Issues for Young People: Welfare Law: Influencing Social Policy: Advanced Mental Health; Mental Health Policy and Practice: Values and Public Policy; Deviance and Social Control:

Disciplinary Appeals Board, Victorian Department of Education:

Peter is a Minister’s appointee to the Disciplinary Appeals Board of the Victorian Department of Education.  This Board considers disputes between employees of the State Government Department and their employees, and acts as a tribunal of appeal against dismissals and demotions and unsuccessful promotions. He has been a member of the Board since 2010. In August 2019, he was reappointed for a further period of five years.

Community Consultative Council, Victoria Legal Aid:

Peter was appointed to this community consultative committee which advises the Senior Executive of Victoria Legal Aid on policy and funding issues.  The forum provides an avenue through which the broader community can directly comment on policies and priorities within this changing organisation.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Advisory Council:

Peter was appointed to the ABC Advisory Council in 2015.  This Council meets regularly with the Managing Director and the Chair of the ABC Board and the heads of key departments within the ABC Corporation.  The Council has responsibility for advising the ABC Board on programming matters. Members are appointed on the basis of the breadth of their experience and diverse connections to different parts of Australian society.  He continued in this position until December 2018.

Civil Marriage Celebrant:

Peter has been registered as a Civil Marriage Celebrant since 2009 and applies his extensive experience as a marriage celebrant in this forum, trained and recognised by the Australian Government.

Australian Red Cross:

In 2017, Peter was appointed a member of the Australian Red Cross National Advisory Council, where he provides advice to the Senior Executive of the Red Cross on a range of community service and policy and advocacy issues.  In April 2018, he conducted an onsite consultation  and evaluation on their community development and juvenile justice initiatives in Ceduna, South Australia.

Previous Professional Appointments

Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne:  2009 - 2011

Peter was awarded a Vice Chancellor’s Fellowship by the University of Melbourne in February 2009.  He undertook this position commencing in March 2009 and completed the Fellowship in November 2011.

Based in the Melbourne Law School, as a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow Peter contributed to the life of the university in a range of different ways, including guest lectures, contributing keynote addresses at numerous conferences, workshops and roundtables, responding to media inquiries, and mentoring and advising students in law, social work, criminology and public policy areas.

On November 11th, he was the presenter of the 2010 Annual John Barry Memorial Lecture, the University’s Major Criminology Lecture presented each year. 

Other guest lectures that Peter has given include the final lecture for the graduating Social Work students on social change and public advocacy and a presentation on Children’s Rights and the Law. 

He completed a treatise on criminal justice reform, including observations and experiences within maximum security units within the Victorian prison system and criminal justice policy.

During this time he was a member of the University of Melbourne Honours’ Committee, advising the Chancellor on proposed appointments within the university and possible propositions of university staff for Commonwealth Honours.

An example of a national conference where he was the keynote speakers was the ACE National Disability Network Conference on the Gold Coast in September 2009, where he addressed the topic: “recognizing human potential and empowering through service and advocacy”.  He was the keynote speaker at an International Symposium on Education conducted by the Australian Catholic University in 2011.

During his Fellowship, Peter was regularly requested by media outlets to comment on a range of public policy issues.

As an experienced practitioner in the fields of social work, criminology and public policy, he is regularly consulted by government representatives and senior public servants on matters of policy and program implementation. 

One example was his presentation to the 50 senior managers and departmental staff from the Victorian Department of Justice. The focus on this presentation was on the challenges facing senior correctional managers and program directors in managing complex behavioural problems and issues of social conflict within a criminal justice setting.  

In August 2010, he taught as part of an intensive social work further education program funded by UNICEF as a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, Vietnam.  His students were social work educators from across the Northern region of Vietnam. His topic was Clinical Diagnosis and Assessment in Social Work.

1985 – 1992: Senior Catholic Chaplain – Pentridge Prison, Victorian Department of Justice

For seven years, Peter worked full-time as Victorian Catholic Prison Chaplain.  Based at Pentridge Prison in Coburg, and visiting the network of correctional institutions across the State, he provided direct pastoral care and chaplaincy to the prisoners and their families on a daily basis.  In this role he coordinated a team of more than 100 full-time, part-time and volunteer workers from across the State.

During this period he had extensive experience regularly working each week within the antiquated maximum security H-Division and also within the newly constructed Jika Jika prison, later to be named K-Division.  During this time, he observed the different methods used by correctional officers and managers in developing isolation units and behaviour management units.

His pastoral role was complemented by a role as public advocate for prisoners’ rights and criminal justice reform.  In this role he worked closely with Victorian Government Ministers of Police and Corrections Services and Victorian Attorney Generals, and senior public servants and the judiciary.

During this time, he established his capacity as a media commentator and public communicator on such complex issues as crime and punishment and drug law reform.

In 1988, Peter completed an extensive 15 week study tour of the criminal justice system in the United States and a 7 week study tour of the British Prison Service.

During these two study trips, he had extensive exposure to high security and supermax prisons in both countries.

In 1990, he undertook further study tours to Sweden and Holland, where he had the opportunity of inspecting alternative models of maximum security prison institution

1992 – 1995: Policy Director - Catholic Social Services Victoria

Following his term as Victorian Prison Chaplain, Peter was invited to take on the position of Policy Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria, the state wide body that provided expert advice and guidance to more than 120 Catholic social service organizations throughout Victoria, employing more than 12,000 staff and engaging more than 50,000 volunteers.  Many of these agencies were involved in child protection services and disability services.

As Policy Director, he acted as spokesperson for the Catholic Church in the areas of social justice and human rights, and directed the Catholic Church’s approach to the formulation of social policy in areas including mental health services, children and family services, employment and training services for the disabled, and the development and renewal of programs addressing poverty and disadvantaged and social exclusion.

Mental health policy and correctional services policy were two major areas of his involvement and responsibility during these years.  This involved consulting with State government ministers and senior administrators and policy advisers on the reform of the mental health system in Victoria and the shaping of new correctional services policies.

1995-2002: Executive Director - Jesuit Social Services

As Executive Director of Jesuit Social Services, Peter returned to the organization that he had founded as Four Flats Hawthorn in 1977, which grew and expanded its services to become the Brosnan Centre, assisting young men and women after their release from correctional services.

Peter was instrumental during this period of seven years of growing the organization into an agency that employed more than 100 full-time staff and which expanded its services from its original foundation working with young released offenders into a multi-service agency that developed a high degree of expertise and professional credibility in the area of drug treatment, mental health services, social research, employment and labour market training and public advocacy. It became an agency respected for its knowledge and its commitment to the poor.

Richmond Community Care was one of the programs for which Peter was responsible.  That agency conducted three child protection residential services providing medium term accommodation for some of the most difficult young people in the child protection system.  During this time, he negotiated complex and at times difficult relationships between the children, their families and the Department of Community Services.

Another of those programs, the Brosnan Centre, was founded in 1977, but expanded to deal with a broader range of offenders.  This program worked within the Victorian prison system in delivering programs of release preparation and extensively with multiple needs and high risk offenders under the age of 25 upon their release.  Included as part of that program, was a residential service program for young offenders with intellectual disability.

In addition during this time, Peter and his senior staff established the Connexions program, aimed at young adults with complex issues covering both substance misuse and co-existing mental health issues and The Gateway Employment Program, privately funded by the Colonial Foundation by $3 million over a three year period.

2002 – 2008: Policy Director/Associate Director - Jesuit Social Services

After working as Executive Director for seven years, Peter then chose to focus his professional attention on policy, research and advocacy within the organization and within the wider community.

For the last ten years, he projected managed a major national social research project for Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia, mapping disadvantage by postcode.  With Professor Tony Vinson as the senior researcher, Peter provided the strategic planning and dissemination of the findings of the major research reports:

This project management involved close liaison and consultation with senior Federal and State Ministers and Shadow Ministers and senior policy advisors at both the Federal and State level.

During this time, as Policy Director of Jesuit Social Services, Peter also conducted two national social research projects, focused on responding to illicit drug use by secondary school students and on how the Catholic Church could better respond to the needs of same sex attracted students in Catholic secondary schools.  The recommendations of these reports were presented at in-service training workshops of Catholic Secondary School Principals throughout all States of Australia during 2006 and 2007.

During this period, he had extensive experience working with diverse ethnic communities, including the Indo-Chinese, the East Timorese, West Papuans and Sudanese and refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq. Iran and Sri Lanka.

2006-2008: Executive Director - Australian Jesuit Foundation

Peter was requested by the Jesuit Order to take on responsibility for the development and guidance of the Australian Jesuit Foundation, the key fund-raising body for Jesuit works within Australia.

Building on his extensive experience of successful fund-raising for Jesuit Social Services over more than 20 years, Peter built up the identity of the office of the Australian Jesuit Foundation and set it on its course for the challenging years ahead.

During this period of time, he worked closely with major donors and promoted the work of the Foundation by its national newsletter. 



•    Norden, P. (2021) SEEKING JUSTICE IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN AUSTRALIA. Learning from the past and planning for a better future. Norden Directions, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (2019) MISGUIDED KINDNESS OR GENOCIDE?      An analysis of Australia’s Indigenous massacres in the context of current international law. Norden Directions, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (2019) SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: a further punishment other than that imposed by the courts or a breach of Australia’s international human rights obligations?  Norden Directions, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (2017) THE BROSNAN CENTRE: FROM COMMUNITY SERVICE TO SOCIAL ACTION. Norden Directions, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (2016) SAFE AND INCLUSIVE LEARNING COMMUNITIES, Edmund Rice Education Australia, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (2011).  NED KELLY, JOHN BARRY AND THE ROLE OF SOCIAL ACTIVISM IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM.   Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Volume 44, Issue 1.
•    Norden, P.  (2008) KEEPING THEM CONNECTED: reducing drug-related harm in Australian secondary schools from a Catholic perspective.  Harm Reduction Digest 41, Drug and Alcohol Review, July 2008.
•    Norden, P. (2007).  CONFRONTING THE DEATH PENALTY: people, politics and principle.  Catholic Social Justice Series, 61, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Sydney.
•    Norden, P. (2006).  NOT SO STRAIGHT:  a national study examining how Catholic Schools can respond to same sex attracted students.  Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne, October 2006.
•    Norden, P. (2005).  KEEPING THEM CONNECTED: a national study examining how Catholic Schools can best respond to incidents of illicit drug use.  Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne, March 2005.
•    Norden, P. (2004).  COMMUNITY ADVERSITY AND RESILIENCE: the distribution of social disadvantage in Victoria and New South Wales and the mediating role of social cohesion.  Just Policy 34, 38-42, December 2004.
•    Norden, P. (2002).  CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: moving from retributive to restorative justice.  Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne, November 2002.
•    Norden, P. (2001).  HEROIN AS A FORM OF SELF-MEDICATION. Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne, May 2001.
•    Norden, P. (2000).  JESUIT SOCIAL SERVICES DRUG POLICY.   The Ignatius Centre, Melbourne.  May 2000.
•    Norden, P. (2001).  HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLED:  unemployment in Australia and the impact of globalization. Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (1998).  WORKERS, UNIONS AND THE UNEMPLOYED.  1998 Annual Rerum Novarum Lecture, Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne, June 1998.
•    Norden, P. (1995).  MAKING THINGS RIGHT: a vision for criminal justice.  Catholic Social Justice Series, 28.  Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Sydney.
•    Norden, P. (1995). RIGHTS OF PRISONERS: A paper delivered to the Australian Rights Congress, Sydney.   Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (1992). PUNISHMENT AND CHRISTIAN VALUES: a Christian analysis of the criminal justice system in Australia.  Jesuit Theological College, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P. (1991). PRISONS: escaping from our past.  National Outlook. 
•    Norden, P.  (1991). DO AUSTRALIANS STILL HAVE A PENAL SETTLEMENT MENTALITY?  Compass Theological Review, Vol 25, Autumn 1991.
•    Norden, P. (1990).  CHAPLAINCY IN THE NINETIES: a consultancy report for the Victorian Government. Jesuit Theological College, Melbourne.
•    Norden, P.  (1985). HIGH RISE COMMUNITY: a case study in community organisation strategies.  Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne.

Professional References