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Michael Hill
Chief Magistrate (Ret.)
Chief Magistrate Michael Hill retired in 2015 after a 45 year career in criminal justice in Tasmania, the last 30 of which he served as a Magistrate, Deputy Chief Magistrate and Chief Magistrate. He has pioneered alternative and solution focused dispute resolution and the introduction of problem-solving courts in Tasmania.

Michael Hill, Chief Magistrate (Ret.)



Michael Rodney Hill was educated at St Virgil’s College and the University of Tasmania, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 1971. He was admitted to the Bar of the Tasmanian Supreme Court in 1972 and practiced, mainly in criminal litigation, until 1984 when appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Law Department and Head of the Legislation and Policy Division. In that position he was involved in the establishment of the Tasmanian Small Claims Court and was appointed the first Special Commissioner and Small Claims Magistrate to sit in that court in 1985.

Michael was appointed a Magistrate in 1988, Deputy Chief Magistrate in 1997 and Chief Magistrate in 2009 and developed an interest in alternative (solution focused) methods of dealing with the work of the courts, particularly in the criminal area. He played a prominent role in the introduction of the contest mention system of case management into Tasmania in 1996.

Michael served as an acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 2005. He represented Australia as Regional Council member of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association between 2003 and 2009. He has been a member of the Council of the National Judicial College of Australia since 2007 and served as Regional Convener for Tasmania between 2007 and 2011. He remains a member of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA).

Michael is now an Adjunct Professor within the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania with an appointment from May 1, 2017 to January 31, 2020.

Michael played a major role in the introduction of the Mental Health Diversion List in the Hobart Magistrates Court in May 2007 and the Court Mandated Drug Diversion program (Drug Court) in June 2007. He has been a strong advocate for a therapeutic approach throughout his career.

Michael is a past member and Chair of the Mining Tribunal, the Police Disciplinary Appeals Board and the Motor Accidents Compensation Tribunal.


Michael has served as a member of the Committee of the Tasmanian Bar Association, was honorary solicitor for Life Link and has lectured on Social Welfare Law at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education and on many aspects of the criminal justice system at the University of Tasmania. He served on the subcommittees of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute examining the need for a Drug Court and a Drink Driving Court in Tasmania. He has been a consultant on legal matters to the Board of Management of St. Mary’s College, Hobart. He was Patron of the ‘Chance on Main’ Youth Program formerly operating in Hobart’s northern suburbs. Michael is chairing the recently formed Community Advisory Group to provide information and seek support from business and the community for the Drug Court.


Michael has three children, all of whom have graduated from the University of Tasmania with combined law degrees, and two young grandchildren. He is a keen sports fan, having played Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association (NTCA) club cricket for Launceston. He served on the Executive Committee of both that club and the NTCA. He is an enthusiastic (if tragic) member of the Collingwood Football Club, and enjoys playing golf.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Solution focused approaches in the criminal jurisdiction
  2. Developments in sentencing in the Tasmanian courts
  3. Therapeutic jurisprudence
  4. Court-based case management
  5. Innovative court procedures
  6. Advocacy techniques

Selected Presentations

    • Small Claims Division: Primary functions, who can appear: Preparation and Presentation of your case (Credit Conference, May 1993)
    • The new approach to Youth Justice (Conference of Principals of State Secondary Schools, September 1998)
    • Duty of Care (Transport Industry Safety Seminar, October 1999)
    • The adversarial system (UTas Lawfest, September 2000)
    • The role of a Magistrate in Sentencing (Neighbourhood Watch Public Forum, October 2001)
    • Corruption and public criticism of the Court system (13th triennial conference of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association in Malawi, Africa, August 2003)
    • The Role of the Separate Representative in Child Protection Proceedings (Family Law Practitioners Conference, June 2004)
    • The Court’s perceptions of conferencing (Tassie Together Youth Justice Conference, Hobart, June 2006)
    • Therapeutic Jurisprudence Directions in the Magistrates Court of Tasmania (Salvation Army ‘Prison Break’ Conference Hobart, August 2008)
    • The Hobart Magistrates Court Mental Health Diversion List (National Conference Family Violence and Problem Solving Courts, Canberra, May 2008)
    • Intervention Courts (Tasmanian Bar Association Conference, October 2008)
    • Tasmania’s Magistrates Court Mental Health Diversion List (AIJA Mental Health Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, February 2010)
    • Developing Therapeutic Judging – The Tasmanian Experience (AIJA Non Adversarial Justice: Implications for the Legal System and Society Conference, Melbourne, May 2010)
    • The therapeutic courts in Tasmania – how did we get to here? (UTas ‘Working with Offenders’ course, January 2017).


As past Regional Convener for Tasmania for the National Judicial College of Australia (NJCA), Michael has presented at numerous NJCA sentencing seminars and Magistrates professional development sessions in Tasmania. He is a regular speaker and lecturer to professional, community and University groups (including undergraduate law students and graduates undertaking the Professional Legal Training Program) on sentencing and developments in the Court. He has addressed a large number of community groups throughout the State to explain court procedures, and has conducted many radio, newspaper and television interviews concerning the Court.

He was a presenter (with then Justice Peter Underwood) in a series of public seminars in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie on the topic of sentencing, and has addressed numerous public forums in Tasmania on that subject.

Selected Articles

  • Therapeutic Jurisprudence – Has it a place in Tasmania? (Third International Conference on Therapeutic Jurisprudence – Perth, Western Australia, June 2006). 
  • Therapeutic Jurisprudence Initiatives in the Magistrates Court of Tasmania, unpublished, 2007.
  • The Hobart Magistrates Court Mental Health Diversion List, Journal of Judicial Administration, January 2009.
  • Wandering down the Therapeutic Jurisprudence Road, published in the Australian Law Librarian Vol 20 no 2 page 70 (2012)
  • Co-authored with Liz Moore, Reflections from the double figures milestone: Part 1 – A Decade of TJ in Tasmania & Part 2 – The TJ Journey Continues, accepted for publication by the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies (TILES), September 2017.

Honors and Awards

Michael being inducted into the St Virgils College Roll of Honour by Father Terry Yard, October 2016.

1.  2018 TAS Australian of the Year Nominee

Click here to read more

2.  2016 Heritage Roll of Honour

The award ceremony, which has been held in conjunction with The Old Virgilians Annual Dinner since 2006, was established to recognise Old Virgilians who have demonstrated outstanding ability and excellence in their lifetime achievements and who have contributed so much to building the traditions and spirit of St Virgil’s College.

3.  2010 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award.  

While as an integral member of the The Mental Health Diversion List, it was recognized by the Australian Heads of Government and the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management with the presentation of an Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award in 2010.

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