Sir James Gobbo honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Australian Mig

Sir James Gobbo honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Australian Migration and Settlement Awards

Sir James Gobbo was honoured for his services to migration and settlement with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Australian Migration and Settlement Awards. The Awards took place on Monday 18th March 2013 and were hosted by the Migration Council Australia. Sir James was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hon Tony Abbott MP, and in the presence of the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP.


Sir James Gobbo was born in Carlton to Italian immigrants, Antonio and Regina.

His parents, both from large families with holdings too small to provide a future, saw opportunity in the construction of bustling Melbourne.

As the depression stuck, the family faltered and moved back to Italy. But the lure of Australia lingered and in 1938, they again tried again, boarding the Remo for Melbourne.

In their luggage was one of Australia’s first espresso machines and in their dreams, the prospect of owning a restaurant. Soon after their return they bought the St Kilda Grill Rooms.

Academically gifted and a keen reader, Sir James was a Victorian Rhodes Scholar, studying law at Oxford.

He was admitted to practice law in 1956 and after a year as a solicitor, went to the Bar.

He took silk in 1971, was appointed as a Judge to the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1978 and became Governor of Victoria in 1997.

He has been honored with a Knighthood for services to the Community and has received the award of Companion of the Order of Australia for service to the Law, Multicultural Affairs and Hospitals.

From humble beginnings Sir James has risen to the highest posts of our land and at each stage he has used his position to further understanding of the needs of new migrants.

As a barrister and judge, Sir James wrote extensively on the need for our courts to be responsive to the changing demographics of the population they serve. He has argued extensively that interpreters are essential ensuring access to justice.

A founding member of the anti-white Australia movement, Sir James was at the forefront of a push to abandon assimilation policies in favor of integration.

Appointed in the late seventies to the Federal Immigration and Population Council Sir James actively pushed for resources to improve public understanding of the plight of indo-Chinese refugees.

Chair of Hawke’s Advisory Council on Multicultural Affairs, his leadership led the establishment of Australia’s first multicultural policy – a National Agenda for Multicultural Australia released in 1989.

The national agenda set out to balance rights with responsibilities, opportunities with obligations, and the maintenance of cultural identity within an acceptance of the structures and principles of Australian society. The framework it set remains to this day.


Sir James has maintained a long interest in Italian community affairs and is actively involved in Co.As.It. His current positions include the founding Chairman of the Australian Multicultural Foundation since 1989 – established to cultivate in all Australians a strong commitment to Australia as one people drawn from many cultures, and Patron of the International Specialized Skills Institute – set up to foster a culture of artisanship and craft in Australia.

He is married to Shirley and has five children.