• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE5599

Budavari, Rosemary

(1957 – ) Rosemary Budavari
  • Nationality Australian
  • Born 1 January, 1957, Sydney New South Wales Australia
  • Occupation Lawyer


Rosemary Budavari is currently (2016) the Senior Solicitor for Disability Discrimination Law at Canberra Community Law, a position she has held since 2013. She has played an important role in Australian community law services and, in 2010, she was recognised for this role when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the law through the advancement of human rights and through the Women’s Legal Centre of the ACT.

Go to ‘Details’ below to read an essay written by Rosemary Budavari for the Trailblazing Women and the Law Project.


The following additional information was provided by Rosemary Budavri and is reproduced with permission in its entirety.

Rosemary was born in Sydney in September 1957, the youngest of three daughters of Alajos and Rozalia Budavari, who had come to Australia as Hungarian refugees in 1949. Alajos had a doctorate in law from the University of Pecs in Hungary and had practised as a lawyer in Europe. However this was not recognised for admission as a legal practitioner in Australia and his circumstances were such that he was not in a position to complete admission requirements. However, he completed a librarianship degree and became the Law Librarian at the University of Sydney. He and Rozalia were immensely proud when Rosemary decided to pursue a career in law.

Rosemary was educated at Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta and completed her Higher School Certificate in 1975. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978 at Macquarie University. In 1979 and 1980 she worked for the Tertiary Catholic Federation of Australia, the national representative body for Catholic students in Australian tertiary institutions. She returned to Macquarie University and completed her Law degree in 1982 and was the recipient of five academic prizes that year.

While studying at Macquarie University, Rosemary became involved with a group of academics and students who established the Macquarie Legal Centre in Parramatta. This involvement began a long association with community legal centres and other forms of legal assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians. It also reflected a strong commitment to social justice and the Australian community. Rosemary volunteered at Macquarie Legal Centre and was a member of its Management Committee during her studies.

On completion of her studies and Practical legal Training Certificate, Rosemary moved to Alice Springs with her husband Paul Burke, a fellow young lawyer, who was working at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service. Rosemary commenced work as a Legal Officer at the Australian Legal Aid Office in Alice Springs in 1983. She appeared as a duty lawyer daily in the Alice Springs Court of Summary Jurisdiction in criminal matters and also conducted summary proceedings in that court. She also conducted pleas; appeals from the Court of Summary Jurisdiction and family law matters in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory and instructed counsel in serious criminal trials in that court.

In 1987, Rosemary and Paul’s first child, Mark was born and their second child, Helen was born in 1990.

In 1989 and 1990 Rosemary worked in private practice with Dittons in Alice Springs conducting a range of civil and family law matters.

In 1991, Rosemary taught a number of law subjects at the Alice Springs College of TAFE.

In 1992, Rosemary and Paul moved to Canberra to be closer to their families. Rosemary undertook a Master of Laws degree by thesis at the Australian National University. Her thesis, “SuperMabo Orders: An Analysis of the Federal Scheme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection” reflected Rosemary’s interest in environmental law and the close relationships that she and Paul had developed with several Aboriginal families in Alice Springs. One of the case studies in Rosemary’s thesis related to the protection of a sacred site in Alice Springs that would have been destroyed by the development of a dam there.

In 1997 Rosemary was able to pursue her interests in environmental protection and the community legal centre sector further when she commenced work as the Co-Ordinator and Solicitor at the Environmental Defender’s Office in Canberra. She advised individuals and groups who were seeking to protect the environment in the ACT. She prepared law reform submissions and appeared before ACT Parliamentary Committees in relation to reviews of environmental impact assessment, nature conservation, utilities and tree protection legislation. She prepared a comprehensive set of Fact Sheets on ACT environmental legislation and policies. She actively participated in the national network of Environmental Defenders’ Offices. She was a member of the Planning and Environment Committee of the ACT Law Society and a committee member of the National Environmental Law Association during this time.

In 2000, Rosemary took up a position as Co-Ordinator and Principal Solicitor of the Women’s Legal Centre in Canberra. She supervised a number of staff and volunteer solicitors in this community legal centre which focussed on discrimination, employment, family law and victims’ compensation matters. She supervised the preparation of law reform submissions in relation to bail, discrimination, employment, family, human rights, restorative justice and victims’ compensation laws. She appeared at parliamentary inquiries in relation to these submissions and represented the centre at meetings with the ACT Government in relation to these issues. She also supervised the centre’s community legal education activities including a ‘Lawsupport’ course for community workers about domestic violence and family law and the centre’s annual public ‘Women and Justice Forum’.

During her time at the Women’s Legal Centre, Rosemary also contributed to a number of ACT and national committees and groups including as:

  • Convenor of the National Network of Women’s Legal Services from 2000 to 2002
  • ACT Representative and Treasurer for the National Association of Community Legal Centres from 2000 to 2006
  • A Member of the ACT Government Intersectoral Expert Reference Group on Women and Corrections from 2001 to 2004
  • A member of the National Relationship Support Network from 2003 to 2007
  • A member of the ACT Law Society’s Pro Bono Clearinghouse Steering Committee and Law Week Committee from 2004 to 2007
  • A member of the ACT Family Pathways Network and the ACT Domestic Violence Prevention Council Law Reform Sub-Committee from 2004 to 2007
  • A member of the Family Court Self-Represented Litigants Committee and Chief Justice’s Consultative Committee in 2005

In 2007, Rosemary took up a position as a policy lawyer at the Law Council of Australia, the peak representative body for Australian lawyers. She prepared policy statements and submissions in a range of civil law matters before moving into the criminal law and human rights division where she became a Co-Director in 2008. She undertook advocacy in relation to anti-terrorism laws; anti-money laundering legislation; and serious and organised crime legislation. She also undertook advocacy in relation to anti-discrimination legislation, immigration and other human rights legislation. She was involved in the Law Council’s advocacy in the cases of David Hicks and Mohammed Haneef.

In 2010, Rosemary was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the law through the advancement of human rights and through the Women’s Legal Centre of the ACT.

In 2013, Rosemary returned to the community legal centre sector in her current position as the Senior Solicitor, Disability Discrimination Law at Canberra Community Law. She represents people with disability in discrimination complaints to the ACT and Australian Human Rights Commissions and in proceedings before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.


Published resources

Digital resources