Pamela Burton

Pamela Burton is a Canberra lawyer and writer. She studied Law at the Australian National University. Her Master’s thesis was a study of the radical High Court Justice, Henry Bournes Higgins. She founded her own law firm in 1976 and later practised as a barrister at the Canberra Bar. She has held various positions, including Senior Member, Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal, member of the ACT Parole Board, and ACT Mental Health Official Visitor.

She is the author of From Moree to Mabo: the Mary Gaudron Story, published by University of Western Australia Publishing (2010), a biography of the first female justice of the High Court of Australia. It tells the story of Australia’s High Court Justice Mary Gaudron, whose legal life has been extraordinary and colourful. Gaudron was the first woman to sit on the High Court, and the only one in the Court’s first 100 years. From Moree’s railway community where she lived as a child in a cottage with dirt floors – a short distance away from a camp of dispossessed Aboriginal Australians – Gaudron became one of the justices who decided Eddie Mabo’s landmark case on Aboriginal land rights. With wit, graphic language, high intellect and the tool of law, Gaudron exposed inequality and discrimination and took on the fight for equal pay and equal opportunity for women in the workforce.

Pamela’s next book, The Waterlow Killings, was published by Melbourne University Publishing (2012). It tells the true but tragic story of the killing of high profile and celebrated Australian Art Curator, Nick Waterlow, and his daughter Chloe. Anthony Waterlow was found not guilty of charges of murdering his father and sister in Sydney, on the ground of mental illness. He suffers from schizophrenia which went untreated for a decade, and the Waterlow family story highlights the broader and serious issues that confront families coping with a loved one troubled by a serious mental illness.

The story also takes us into Nick Waterlow’s world of musical, literary and visual artists who defied conventionality, pushed boundaries and became international celebrities. Behind the glamorous life of a family with British aristocratic blood lines and inherited Australian wealth, is a story of love, despair and torment. The confronting story raises complex medical, legal, social and ethical dilemmas and questions that require answers. It was winner of Sisters in Crime 13th Davitt Best True Crime Award.

Pamela’s crime novel, A Private Affair, was published in 2016.