Julian Phillips collection

Julian Phillips was a senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Melbourne and for a brief period acted as Vice-Chancellor. He was an outspoken advocate for social justice and active in reforming various social issues including industrial law, the status of women, equal opportunity, sentencing, and homosexuality and its decriminalisation.

As a member of the Equal Opportunity Advisory Council, Julian Phillips advised the Victorian Premier on matters of race, age, sexual and gender discrimination.

In an interview with Graham Willett in 2004 he discussed his involvement in homosexual law reform as beginning with his work as a civil liberties lawyer called upon to represent men arrested for homosexual acts.

In 1973 as a member of the federal Committee on Discrimination in Employment he was located in Premier Hamer’s office and assisted by a research assistant went through the Attorney General’s Department files on homosexual offences and arrests. The information obtained from this work was important in persuading even conservatives of the need for law reform.

In 1973, after the federal parliament passed a motion endorsing the principle of decriminalisation, Phillips was one of those involved in discussions with the Attorney General on how to implement such a reform.

In 1974 he was located in Washington DC working for the Australian government on equal opportunity issues. In the course of this work he became aware of state legislation in the US which was organised around an age of consent for sexual matters which worked with a ‘sliding scale’ whereby, rather than an absolute age of consent, individuals were allowed to engage in sexual behaviour with others who were no more than two years older or younger than themselves.

At another point in time he was in Copenhagen and became convinced that pornography served not to exacerbate sex crime but rather to reduce its frequency. He sought and obtained permission to import pornography into Australia for research purposes.

After a highly-publicised round of police entrapment of homosexual men at Black Rock Beach in 1976, the Victorian government turned its attention to the issue of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between men. Julian Phillips, as a member [chair?] of the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee, played an important role in this, liaising with gay activists, police, public servants. The legislation that was presented to Parliament in 1980 was strongly influenced by his work.

In 2016-2017, a review of his papers – supported by the Melbourne Engagement Grants Scheme, revealed the extent of his involvement in matters relating to homosexuality and transgender people.

The involvement with transgender issues began with an approach by a group of self-described transsexuals, soon organised into the Victorian Transsexuals Coalition. This is an aspect of Australian trans history that provides an opportunity for future research.

As too does a discussion about the possibility of the expungement of criminal records, something that was applied to homosexual offences in Victoria only in 2015.

Notes on the Julian Phillips collection

For a complete index to the collection, see the online catalogue entry.

Please note that the collection is restricted access: permission must be sought via the University of Melbourne Archives before viewing.

Unit Number




‘Indecent Assaults 1975-76’


  • Statistics for indecent assaults 1975
  • An interesting clipping about sailors and homosexuals
  • Handwritten notes regarding cases
  • Notes from discussion [Julian Phillips and members of the XXX]

‘Research on Sexual Offences’

Includes reports, mostly from the UK, 1979-1980, on: age of consent; consent and sentencing (including material on the increase in prosecutions after decriminalisation in 1967); reference to a proposal to reduce the age of consent in South Australia.


2.7 ‘Terry Stokes’

Correspondence with University figures and other papers regarding the Terry Stokes case


3.1 ‘Research’

WA Royal Commission on Homosexuality Report; photocopy of unsourced transcript – Appendix A Public Opinion on Gays, Appendix B Australian Anti-Gay Laws, Appendix F Medical Opinion


3.2 ‘Publications and Newsletters on Homosexuality

Publications including Man and Society [UK], Christian Society and Homosexuality [Antony Grey], Albany Trust publications; Harry Benjamin Transvestism and Transsexualism in the Male and Female [Journal of Sex Research, May 1967]; Spectrum; GLF; Camp Ink; Summer Offensive; Dr Duncan Revolution Bookshop.


3.3 ‘Homosexuality and the Law’


3.4 ‘Law Reform’

  • Lex Watson, ‘The Anti-Gay Laws, Irrationality and Public Policy making’ 26/2/77
  • Photocopies and clippings; [First] National Homosexual Conference; Society Five; Swedish Embassy; ACT Ordinance no. 55 of 1976; CHE/Scottish Minorities Group/Union for Sexual Freedom in Ireland; Table of Offences by state and international; NSW prosecution figures; Victorian Hansard 1980; 1971 Oslo meeting of four Nordic homosexual rights organisations; Sexual Law Reform Society [UK]; Comment [NZ 1970]; States-General of the Netherlands; WA Royal Commission into Homosexuality.

3.5 ‘Law Reform Notes’

Report of the EOAC on Decriminalisation of Consensual Homosexual Offences [including reference to expungement]; Report to Premier by the EOAC; Crimes (Sexual Offences) Act 1980.


3.6 ‘1973 Decriminalisation of Homosexuality’

Federal Parliament motion of opinion; Attorney General Dept [Cth] on how to implement 1973 vote; CAMP NSW correspondence to AG re implementation [18/10/73]; Phillips corre to Attorney General regarding implementation; RC Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn opposing decriminalisation; typescript of Moss Cass speech.



Publications of Race discrimination; Race discrimination (2 cases); Age discrimination in employment; Age discrimination; National Committee for International Women’s Year; press clippings on discrimination; Discrimination and AIDS.


Equal Opportunity

Equal opportunity reports; equal opportunity articles; equal opportunity cases and guidelines; Equal Opportunity Advisory Council 1984 (including a history of the EOAC).



Papers Relating to Chairmanship of Equal Opportunity Advisory Council


Folder dated 2/8/77

Transsexual admitted to Fairlea Prison


Folder dated 6/2/79

Decriminalisation of homosexual offences (press report)


Folder dated 12/4/83

Pamphlet on Equal Opportunity Forum


Folder dated 2/2/82



[Folder 1: untitled]

  • Correspondence re sexual offences and discrimination [1982]
  • Clippings and summary of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board report [1982]
  • Correspondence re proposed human rights legislation including ‘sexual preference’
  • Minutes 2/6/81 including attachment Paper on Transsexualism (18pp)

[Folder 2: untitled]

  • Minutes 7/7/81 including discussion of Paper on Transsexualism and committee determination to look into issue this year.
  • Letter Walter [author of the Paper] to the committee 31/7/81

Loose papers between folders 2 and 3

  • Letter, Homosexual Law Reform Coalition [HLRC] to Dickei (?) 17/2/76
  • Letter, Women’s Electoral Lobby to Haddon Storey [Attorney-General] 27/6/81 [inc reference to homosexuality]

[Folder 4: untitled]

EOAC Minutes including 13/11/84 sexual preference in Equal Opportunity and Public Service Acts


[Folder 6: untitled]

Study tour of US and Canada by Fay Marles {EO Commissioner}


Loose Papers between folders 7 and 8

  • Letter 23/5/83 to Howard Nathan re forthcoming meeting with Tappan
  • Letter to O’Connor re effect of discrimination
  • Clipping and letter re homosexuality and discrimination, The Age, 14/9/83
  • Letter to Premier re meeting with Victorian Transsexual Coalition and press release 21/9/83

[Folder 8: untitled]

  • Agenda EOAC 1/2/83 inc meeting with HLRC
  • Letter from Haddon Story to Matheson 23/10/79 regarding stats re lesser offences and buggery

Loose papers between folder 9 and 10

  • Letter, Premier to JP re meeting with HLRC 13/12/76
  • Letter, John Cain to EOAC re problems of transsexuals/notes of meeting 15/11/83

[Folder 10: untitled]

Report to EOAC on prostitution 1980 [including homosexuality]


Loose papers between folder 10 and 11

EOAC report on decriminalisation from Committee meeting 11/10/76


[Folder 11: untitled]

Penny Ryan’s resignation as government’s Women’s Advisory Office


Loose papers between folders 11 and 12

  • Typescript of annual report (?) Including homosexuality
  • Minutes 6/9/83 including problems confronting transsexuals

[Folder 12: untitled]

Nothing relevant


Loose papers between folders 12 and 13

  • Minutes of EOAC 9/12/80 inc tabling of Sexual Offences Bill
  • Minutes of EOAC including reporting on AIDS
  • Letter, Roper [Attorney-General] re AIDS Working Party
  • Minutes of EOAC 1/2/83 including meeting with GLRC

[Folder 13: untitled]

  • EO Forum booklet (including timeline on equality 1800-1980)
  • Minutes of EOAC 7/9/82 noting upcoming meetings with GLRC and Transsexuals
  • Report on study tour of US and Canada 1982 [inc transsexuals]
  • Letter from Deputy premier to EOAC 14/9/82 re transsexuals’ birth certificates

Loose papers between folders 13 and 14

  • Letter to EOAC re lack of statistics on homosexuality 1983
  • Letter to Assistant Commissioner Equal Opportunity 27/6/83 re transsexualism
  • Letter to Chief Commissioner of Police 27/6/83 re review of effect of decriminalisation

[Folder 14: untitled]

  • Letter to Premier 14/7/77 re progress on homosexual law reform
  • Agenda for meeting with Premier 18/7/77 inc homosexuality (and minutes of same)

[Folder 15: untitled]

Case of homosexual rape in prison


[Folder 16: untitled]

  • Agenda 6/12/83 inc reporting on AIDS
  • Letter Attorney-General to EOAC 18/11/83 re ‘third sex’
  • Letter to Roper [AG] 11/11/83 re absence of gay representation on Working Party [his reply is elsewhere].

[Folder 17: untitled]

  • Agenda 6/9/83 inc Problems of Transsexuals
  • Article on Sexual Identity and the Criminal Law [UK] on transsexualism
  • Letter AG to EOAC 18/3/83 on sexual preference
  • Letter Walter to EOAC 23/8/83 re meeting with three transsexuals
    • Reply 9/8/83
    • invitation to transsexuals 25/8/83


Loose papers

Agenda 7/7/81 including ‘Transsexualism: Medical and Legal Aspects’ by William AW Walters


[Folder 1: title Minutes?]

Minutes 7/2/77 Homosexual Law Reform – Premier had authorised a subcommittee to meet with the Police Department and other departments and groups



  • Background Paper on the Decriminalisation of Homosexual Offences [[5pp typed]]
  • Minutes of the subcommittee with the HLRC 30/11/76
  • Copy of a paper for the Victimless crimes Symposium (Conway)
  • Handwritten draft of Report of the EOAC to the Premier of Victoria on decriminalisation of homosexual offences.

Loose papers

  • Minutes 18/11/76 Chair tables letter from HLRC and a paper on homosexual law reform by Lex Watson.
  • Council [?] agreed to subcommittee with HLRC (with agenda).

Loose papers

Minutes 2/12/76: Chair reports on meeting with HLRC



  • Report on unnatural offenders admitted to the care of the Social Welfare Dept 1975-76 by the Director of Policy and Planning sent to EOAC
  • Report by EOAC to Premier on dcho 18/4/77 and reply 5/5/77
  • List of 23 proposed research projects inc homosexuality [n.d.]

Loose papers

  • Minutes 28/3/77 including Opening remarks on homosexual law reform
  • Table C: Youth Trainee Offences
  • Letter re deportability under Immigration Act [prostitution offences; no ref homosexuality]
  • Copy of Migration Act 1958-66
  • Letter to Premier 4/2/77 (p 4, point: seeking approval to meet)
  • Minutes 11/10/77: in response to request to meet from HLRC establishment of subcommittee (members named).
  • Agenda 12/4/76 item 7.1 decriminalising homosexual acts.
  • Minutes 5/4/77 JP has advised Premier that he has draft of homosexual law reform legislation; second meeting with HLRC; consideration of Background Paper with detailed notes on the discussion.
  • JP reports on homosexual offences (detailed, inc discussion of Black Rock beach).


Part of document on inquiry into homosexual offences



Minutes 26/4/77 – item 4.6 communication problems re homosexual law reform legislation



  • Letter 27/3/76 “Dear Judge” – JPhillips’ history
  • Letter 5/2/76 “Dear Mr Grassby”


  • Minutes 1/3/77 inc letter to Premier 1/4/77, 25/3/77 re approach from HLRC [check dates]
  • Letter to NSW AG re Victimless crimes Seminar and his changing view
  • Crimes Sexual behaviour Bill 1977 and Hansard


Papers relating to JP’s Chairmanship of EOAC and membership of related boards c 197-84


Folder 2

Decriminalisation of Prostitution


Folder 9

  • Agenda EOAC 2/12/80: resolve to monitor effects of decriminalisation inc details of research plan
  • Copy of Sexual Offences Bill 1980

Loose papers [between boxes 11 and 12]

News release: Office of the Premier ‘Sexual Law Reform’ 12/10/80



Agenda 7/4/81; Minutes 3/3/81 JP invited by Criminal Law Procedure and Advisory Committee to prepare paper on overseas expungements of criminal records



Agenda 6/3/84: Victorian Transsexuals Coalition submission 8/11/83


Loose papers

Agenda 5/2/85 including item ‘Sexual preference in the Equal Opportunity and Public Service Acts. Discussion of a short paper titled ‘The Need for Equal Opportunity for Gays’.



  • Minutes 2/2/85 including correspondence from GLRC offering to meet with EOAC to discuss discrimination experienced by gays; agreement to ask for information as basis on which to decide if meeting appropriate way to go.
  • Program Ahead: inc Problems Likely to be Faced by Transsexuals


  • Minutes 7/8/79: item 3.9 Decriminalisation of Consensual Homosexual Offences. JP advises that a report from UK has arrived, which will be useful for his research.
  • AG is to study this matter on his overseas trip.