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.

Now appointed as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Global, Social and Urban Studies at RMIT University, he is actively involved in teaching and consultancy and media commentary. He is a member of ABC Advisory Council and the Disciplinary Appeals Board of the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

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.

In the area of government relations, he has high level credibility and recognition at both a Federal and State government level and within respected media outlets.

He has had long standing access to senior Federal politicians, and has had recent meetings with Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Dutton, Andrew Robb, Tanya Plibersek and Mark Butler and in previous years consultancy meetings with Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Christopher Pyne, Barnaby Joyce, Kevin Andrews and Bill Shorten.

At a Victorian State government level, similar relationships exist with the current Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, and the Deputy Premier, Richard Wynne.

Within the media, he has been a regular commentator on ABC Radio and Television, Channel 10’s The Project, and has recent Opinion page articles in The Age and The Herald Sun, and regular articles in The Conversation and The Drum.

Recent consultancy work has included major projects with the Victorian Department of Health, in the area of mental health promotion, with The Pennington Institute, Australia’s drug harm reduction agency in 2012, on police culture and training with Victoria Police in 2013, and in June 2014 with the Northern Territory Department of Justice.

In recent years, he has been regularly called upon as a keynote speaker to open conferences and training seminars, in areas including Legal Aid, Community Leadership, Disability, Education Policy and Mental Health.

Recent Academic and Professional Publications

November 2015:  Presented at the Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology at Flinders University, Adelaide, on the expansion of the Australian prison population over the last 25 years.

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. 

June 2014:  Consultancy within the Northern Territory, meeting with the Attorney General, Commissioner of Correctional Services, evaluation visit to newly constructed 1100 bed prison.

June 2014:  Keynote speaker at public forum in Darwin on Justice Reinvested: Alternatives to the Super Prison.

June 2014:  Conducted in-service training for the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA):  Best practice methods between NGOs and Government.

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

2013 and 2012:  Awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the Vice Chancellor of R.M.I.T. University as “one of RMIT’s Top Media Performers for the Year”.

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 Zealand:  Correlates 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, ANEX:  organisational analysis and facilitated meetings with Federal Health Minister and Shadow Minister.

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, Vietnam.  Peter conducted an intensive four week in-service training course for 85 social work educators from universities across the Northern region of Vietnam.  Topic:  Clinical Diagnosis and Assessment in Social Work.  Program funded by U.N.I.C.E.F.

2. Contact Details

PO Box 12, Bentleigh, 3204, Vic
03 9557 3433



3. Academic Qualifications

• Bachelor of Arts. University of Melbourne (1975)
• Post Graduate Diploma of Social Studies
• University of Melbourne (1976)
• Graduated in Theology and Philosophy (1981)
• Jesuit Theological College and Melbourne College of Divinity
• Masters of Social Work. La Trobe University (1985


4. Career Appointments

• Ordained Jesuit Priest 1981
• Chaplain, St Ignatius College, Sydney: 1983-4
• Chaplain, Victorian Department of Justice: 1985-92
• Policy Director, Catholic Social Services: 1992-1995
• Executive Director, Jesuit Social Services: 1995-2002
• Policy/Associate Director, Jesuit Social Services: 2002-08
• Parish Priest, St Ignatius Church, Richmond: 2004-08
• Chaplain, Maribyrnong Detention Centre: 2002-06
• Chaplain, The Melbourne (Mental Health) Clinic: 1992-04
• Sabbatical Year, Australian Jesuits: 2008
• Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne: 2009-2011
• Adjunct Professor, R.M.I.T. University, School of Global
• Studies, Social Science and Planning, 2001 – Current


5. Current Appointments

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Advisory Council Member, December 2014 – current:

As a member of the ABC Advisory Council, Peter’s role is to advice the ABC Board relating to programming, and to facilitate communication between the community and the ABC Board.


Adjunct Professor, R.M.I.T. University

School of Global, Social and Urban Studies

As an Adjunct Professor at R.M.I.T. University, Peter contributes to the life of the campus through a range of activities, including guest teaching to both undergraduate and graduate courses in social work, social science, criminal justice and psychology areas. 

He is also part of the Consult an Expert network within the university and is regularly called upon to address contemporary issues in the media and in relationship to State and Federal Government authorities.


His recent teaching commitments within the School of Global, Social and Urban Studies at R.M.I.T. include:


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.

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. His role is outlined in his website:

6. 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 is presently completing a treatise on criminal justice issues, including observations and experiences within maximum security units within the Victorian prison system.

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 has been 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 recent 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 - 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 labor 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.


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:

• Unequal in Life. August 1999 • Community Adversity and Resilience. March 2004 • Dropping Off the Edge. February 2007

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 inservice training workshops of Catholic Secondary School Principals throughout all States of Australia during 2006 and 2007.


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.


7. Publications

• 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. (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.

7. Referees

i. His Honour Judge David Jones AM
Retired Judge of the County Court of Victoria
Adult Parole Board
444 Swanston Street, Carlton 3053
Tel: (03) 9094 2111

ii. (Hon Dr) Bernie Geary OAM
Victorian Child Safety Commissioner
(former Executive Director of Jesuit Social Services)
Level 20, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000
Tel: (03) 8601 5886

iii. His Honour Judge Bernie Bongiorno AO
Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria
210 William Street, Melbourne 3000
Tel: (03) 9603 6193