Vale Emeritus Professor (Peter) Louis Waller AO
10 October 2019
A message from the Dean of Law, Monash University.
The staff, students, and alumni of Monash University’s Faculty of Law are deeply saddened at the passing of our dear and much-loved colleague and friend, Emeritus Professor Louis Waller AO. Professor Waller passed away late Tuesday 8 October, aged 84 years. On behalf of the whole Faculty of Law community, I offer our sincerest sympathies to Professor Waller’s family on their and our great loss.
Professor Waller was one of the giants on whose shoulders both Monash University and its Faculty of Law were built more than 50 years ago. He was an outstanding scholar, respected Dean, revered legal academic, ground-breaking researcher, dynamic educator, and pioneering law reformer. He made a lasting contribution to legal education, criminal law, evidence, forensics, and medico-legal reform. The political, legal, and Jewish communities in Victoria, Australia, and globally are today mourning the loss of a great man and true pioneer.
In many ways, the Faculty of Law at Monash University owes much of its character to Professor Waller. He was a founding member of Monash Law, appointed to the Sir Leo Cussen Chair of Law in 1964, a position he held for 36 years. He was Dean of Monash Law from 1968 to 1970. When he retired at the end of 2000, he was appointed as an Emeritus Professor of Law and remained active in his academic role. Long after retirement to the present day, Professor Waller maintained his connection with the Faculty and University, retaining an office, providing counsel and mentoring to academics and students, and supporting the Faculty by regular attendance and leading roles in major events. Last year, Professor Waller was the keynote speaker at the Faculty’s annual gala dinner for alumni and the profession.
Above: Generations of law students remember Professor Waller as the greatest teacher they ever had. His style of teaching was described as "electric".
Professor Waller’s contributions were extensive, in academia and beyond. His academic and public careers were marked by a long succession of ‘firsts’. In the early 1980s, he was instrumental in bringing about laws to guide the new and then-controversial procedures surrounding in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). He was appointed as the first Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, Chairman of Victoria’s IVF Committee, the inaugural Chairman of the statutory Standing Review and Advisory Committee on Infertility, and the first Chairman of the Infertility Treatment Authority.
Professor Waller was the first Chairman of the International Humanitarian Law Committee of the Australian Red Cross Society, a member and then Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and first lay member and then Chair of the Appeals Committee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. He authored the first Australian casebook on criminal law. He served as a Visiting Professor and a Research Fellow in several universities in the UK, Canada and in Israel.
After his retirement, Professor Waller continued to teach and undertake research in the area of forensic medicine, and legal issues in medicine. He was an Honorary Associate in the Department of Forensic Medicine.
He was appointed an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 1989, and received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Monash University in 2005.
His contribution was truly global, and he was admired globally.
Those who were lucky enough to know Professor Waller were also deeply touched on a personal level. Over the decades, countless students, including senior members of the judiciary and the legal profession, would remember him as the greatest teacher they ever had.
Professor Waller earned great admiration amongst his colleagues, students, and the broader community that he served. Professor Waller embodied compassion, reason and a fierce determination to defend the vulnerable.
Professor Bryan Horrigan
Dean, Faculty of Law