Family Court of Western Australia

News & Media Releases

Press Release: The Honourable Stephen Thackray


The Honourable Stephen Thackray, the former Chief Judge of the Family Court of Western Australia, has passed away unexpectedly after suffering a brain aneurism. He was 65.

Mr Thackray’s successor as Chief Judge, the Honourable Justice Gail Sutherland, said that he was a brilliant, astute and compassionate judge. “Stephen led the court by quiet example, inspiring us all to want to do our best because we respected him, and liked him, and didn’t want to let him down. He cared deeply about the problems faced by separating families, and continually strived for new ways to better serve the public. We have lost a shining example, and a good friend. ”

The Attorney General, the Honourable John Quigley MLA paid tribute to Mr Thackray’s outstanding contribution to the West Australian community in his 22 years of service as a judicial officer.

“Stephen Thackray led the development of family law jurisprudence throughout Australia to an extent matched by very few in the history of the Family Court”, Mr Quigley said. “He took on some of the most difficult cases ever to come before the court, and was universally respected for his open-mindedness, empathy and wisdom.”

Mr Thackray grew up in Mogumber, Western Australia, where many of his primary school classmates were part of the stolen generation. His concern for and affinity with indigenous peoples was instilled in his formative years, and continued throughout his professional career.

Mr Thackray is survived by his wife Janet, his children Amanda and James, and his daughter-in-law, Leandri.