Newcastle Lawyer, Catherine Henry, has received a national Civil Justice Award on top of other accolades for her work in aged care and health law.
In Canberra on 4 December, Catherine was presented with the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) 2020 Civil Justice Award, which recognises the dedication, commitment and perseverance of individuals and organisations to social justice and human rights in Australia.
She joins previous winners such as Eddie Mabo (post-humous), former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser AC, Andrew Wilkie, and Co-Founder of the National Justice Project, George Newhouse.
Over decades, Catherine has advocated for vulnerable people, for women, for health law reform, aged care law reform and improvements to health care and aged care delivery.
She has recently championed issues including the campaigns to decriminalise abortion in NSW and for action on vaginal mesh. Her firm has become a supporter of the National Justice Project.
A strong critic of the current aged care system and 1997 Aged Care Act, Catherine was invited to address the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality’s 2019 Newcastle public hearing.
Catherine said it is an honour to be acknowledged among other great champions of social justice.
“I am privileged to be a lawyer and believe that the law should be used as a tool to improve our society and community,” Catherine said.
ALA National President, Graham Droppert SC, said Catherine is a truly deserving recipient of the annual Civil Justice Award.
“For many years, Catherine has effectively used the law to support and advance social justice and human rights in Australia,” Graham said.
“Using common law litigation and consumer law remedies backed up by public advocacy, Catherine’s work has contributed to positive reform in aged care and health services.
“Over the course of the last decade, Catherine Henry has campaigned on several important social justice issues including women’s reproductive rights; the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; the rights of people experiencing mental illness; and the rights of older Australians, particularly those in aged care.
“Catherine’s commitment spans more than one issue and draws from her experience as a Health Lawyer and Aged Care Lawyer,” Graham said.
The ALA Award comes on top of Catherine and her firm both being recognised in the prestigious 2020 Doyles Guide lists of NSW’s top medical negligence compensation lawyers and law firms.
Catherine is listed as one of 14 Leading Medical Negligence Compensation Lawyers (Plaintiff) for 2020. This is the fourth year in a row that she had made the list. She is one of only four regional NSW based lawyers to make the list.
Her firm is one of the top 17 Medical Negligence Compensation Law Firms (Plaintiff) for 2020. This is the second year running that the firm has claimed top honours. Catherine Henry Lawyers is one of four regionally based firms to make the list.
Catherine said it is gratifying to make such a prestigious list alongside some very well-known and established capital city firms and lawyers.
She said that everyone in her business is passionate about using the law to gain compensation and justice for people whose lives have often been torn apart because of poor healthcare or aged care.
“Our firm strives to bring the sorts of legal services available in capital cities to people in regional areas,” Catherine said.
“This is important because the evidence shows that people in regional NSW have poorer access to health services and have poorer health outcomes than people living in capital cities.
“Our work plays an important role in not only providing justice and redress, but it also helps to improve professional standards of care.”
The ALA and Doyles recognition tops off a year of accolades for Catherine Henry and her firm. In August, Catherine was named Regional Lawyer of the Year and the firm won Regional Law Firm of Year in the 2020 Australian Law Awards.
The firm and Catherine were also finalists in the 2020 Australian Women in Law Awards that were announced this month. Catherine Henry Lawyers was one of 10 finalists in the Boutique Diversity Law Firm of The Year Award and Catherine was one of 10 finalists in the running for the Executive of the Year Award.
IMAGE | ALA National President Graham Droppert SC presents the national Civil Justice Award to Catherine Henry, Principal of Catherine Henry Lawyers.