A local prosecutor with more than 16 years of experience was announced Tuesday as the new ACT Director of Public Prosecutions.
The appointment of Shane Drumgold, who is currently deputy director of the ACT office, was welcomed by the legal community who recognised his significant professional and life experience.
And the man who he will succeed in the role, Jon White SC, said Mr Drumgold had forged a reputation during his career as a fearless and scrupulously fair advocate.
He said his deputy's appointment as the new director was a vote of confidence in the office.
Mr Drumgold grew up in Sydney's Mount Druitt in the 1960s and 70s in a family of six kids.
He dropped out of school at age 15 and later got a job at Australia Post, and later took on a management role.
Mr Drumgold got a way into university with a management course through Australia Post, and moved on from there to studying economics by distance.
He then took up law studies at the University of Canberra, and began his legal career with the Aboriginal Legal Service.
In 2006, Mr Drumgold worked as a public defender with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, which had been gripped in a bloody civil war when Australia intervened with the mission in 2003.
He later wrote a book on his experience there.
Following the announcement, Mr Drumgold said he felt privileged to have the opportunity of serving the community as director, and the support had been overwhelming from both sides of the bar table and judiciary.
He said it was an exciting time to take on the role, with reference to the courts system in the ACT as among the most efficient and effective in the nation.
But he acknowledged the job of director was an extremely challenging and lonely one.
"Many public officials make decisions that are unwelcome or unpopular in one quarter or another.
"The director has the unique distinction, often, of making decisions that are unpopular in every quarter.
"Rightfully - everything we do is scrutinised by the courts before whom we appear, by our colleagues in a quintessentially adversarial profession, by police and other investigators whose matters we prosecute, by victims, witnesses and other interested parties, by the assembly and its members, and by the media.
"And I welcome that scrutiny in meeting the other challenges faced at this particular time."
Mr Drumgold said as the small jurisdiction had evolved into a larger jurisdiction, it was clear that the types of serious crime that used to be rare in the ACT was now a regular occurrence.
The incoming director referred to in part to the tripling of the ACT Supreme Court workload in recent times and the number of homicide prosecutions the office now dealt with.
"All of these are challenges that I hope to tackle head on, with energy and enthusiasm."
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said Mr Drumgold had a strong reputation as a criminal law prosecutor.
“Mr Drumgold has a deep appreciation of how judicial processes can impact the lives of defendants and victims," Mr Ramsay said.
“He is known for his nuanced approach to the resolution of criminal matters, and I am confident that he will make a significant contribution to enhancing access to justice outcomes."
The outgoing director Mr White welcomed the appointment of his deputy as his successor.
“This is great vote of confidence in the office. Shane is an experienced criminal lawyer, who has practiced on both sides of the bar table,” he said.
“He has prosecuted many high profile and difficult cases, and has forged a reputation as a fearless and scrupulously fair advocate. His appointment will be particularly welcomed in the indigenous community, and the wider legal profession."
President of the ACT Bar Association Steven Whybrow said Mr Drumgold was an experienced trial advocate whose significant professional and life experience will serve him well in the role.
"It is pleasing to see such a significant appointment made from within the ACT legal community," he said.
"I am confident Mr Drumgold will provide the leadership and inspiration for all his prosecutors to discharge their duties with diligence, fairness and fearlessness."
Mr Whybrow said the bar looked forward to working with Mr Drumgold and renewing the traditionally close and collegiate relationship between the private bar and the in-house advocates of the office of the DPP.
Chris Donohue, president of the ACT Law Society, called Mr Drumgold an accomplished prosecutor and a man well-known in the legal community for his fairness and strong work ethic.
"His work with the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Restorative Justice Unit and the Galambany Circle Sentencing Court gives him a unique perspective on justice in the ACT region," he said.
Mr Drumgold will begin on January 1 and has been appointed for a seven-year term.