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The Hon. Justice Jennifer Coate


Justice Coate is a Judge of the Family Court of Australia. Prior to this, she held a number of appointments, including Judge of the County Court of Victoria, State Coroner of Victoria, the inaugural President of the Children’s Court of Victoria, Senior Magistrate of the Children’s Court of Victoria and Magistrate and Deputy Chief Magistrate of the Magistrate’s Court of Victoria.

During her time as President of the Children’s Court of Victoria, Justice Coate oversaw the establishment of the Children’s Koori Court. Justice Coate has also worked as a part-time Law Reform Commissioner, a solicitor in private practice, a solicitor for the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria and in policy and research for the Victorian Government.


Justice Coate initially trained and worked as a teacher in Victoria’s primary schools for four years after completing a Teaching Diploma at Frankston Teachers’ College. During those teaching years, she completed an Arts degree majoring in English Literature and Linguistics and later returned to study full time and completed a Law degree at Monash University.

On completion of her Law degree, Justice Coate worked as a solicitor and then entered a partnership practising in Fitzroy and East Melbourne in Family Law, Criminal Law, Crimes Compensation and Children’s Court work.

After selling the practice, Justice Coate worked as a duty lawyer for the Legal Aid Commission Victoria, then in policy and research in the Attorney-General’s department before being appointed as a Magistrate in 1992. She then took up an appointment as the Senior Magistrate at the Children’s Court in 1995 and was promoted to the position of Deputy Chief Magistrate.

In June 2000 Justice Coate was appointed as a Judge of the County Court and then as the first President of the Children’s Court of Victoria. In 2006 she left the Children’s Court after 11 years as the head of the Court and served in the County court until 2007 when she was appointed the State Coroner of Victoria.

Selected councils, boards and committees

  • Commissioner (part time), Victorian Law Reform Commission
  • Chair, Co-ordinated Health Services for Abused Victorian Children
  • Member, Standing committee of Australian and New Zealand Youth and Children’s Courts
  • Member, Police Youth Issues Group
  • Member, Melbourne University Forensic Psychology Advisory Board
  • Member, Victoria Police Ethical Standards Consultative Committee
  • Member, Family Violence Protocols Committee
  • Member, Council of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine


Justice Coate holds a Teaching Diploma from Frankston Teacher’s College as well as an Arts degree, majoring in English Literature and Linguistics, and a Law Degree.

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