Empathy drives new QSAC chair

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council has welcomed retired Supreme Court judge Ann Lyons as its new chair.

Ann arrived at the council with a wealth of experience in criminal and civil law. She was the inaugural president of the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal from 2000-06 and was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2006. She was president of the Mental Health Court from 2011-14, and was appointed Senior Judge Administrator in 2017 before retiring in 2021.

Ann took over the reins from John Robertson on October 30. Proctor spoke to her about her new adventure.

Why QSAC, and what insights will you bring to the role?

My views of the justice system, and sentencing in particular, has been formed by my diverse background and experience.

First, I am one of nine children so my upbringing was fairly robust and not at all privileged. Furthermore, having worked in areas such as social security, anti-discrimination, guardianship, crime and mental health law I am very aware of the huge range of human experiences and indeed human tragedies.


I also understand that not everyone has had the same education and support that I have had in my life. A loving and supportive family gives one such a good start in life. I always tried to put myself in the shoes of the person before me in court and to understand how they got to be there.

What are your hopes in the role? Are there particular sentencing issues you’d like to focus on? 

My vision for QSAC is to ensure that the high standing of the council within the community continues.

The council has earned a reputation for rigorous research and it consistently makes a positive contribution to the area of sentencing scholarship. I would like to continue the work of ensuring the community understands the sentencing process and appreciates what a complex process it is given so many factors must be taken into account and then balanced. It is a highly nuanced but personalised process which operates within well-established sentencing principles.

I also would like the community to understand that one size does not fit all and that every sentence is different because every crime, every victim and every defendant are different.

Will there still be time off to enjoy retirement? 


My favourite things to do outside of the law are spending time with my family, travelling and learning something new. I am particularly addicted to online history courses.

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