Australian Catholic University Ltd - Academic governance
Dr Diane Barker is the General Counsel and Director of Governance of Australian Catholic University Limited (ACU), a public university and registered charity with eight campuses in Australia and Rome supporting approximately 33,000 students and 2,300 staff. ACU sits in the top 2% of all universities worldwide and is ranked first in Australia for graduate employment. ACU’s students and Mission sit at the heart of all of its activities, with a focus on the dignity of the human person and the common good.
Unusually for the Australian tertiary education sector, ACU is constituted as a public company limited by guarantee, which raises a range of unique legal and governance challenges. Diane established the Office of General Counsel in 2011 and the Governance Directorate in 2013 to meet these challenges.
Diane strives to provide legal and governance services of exceptional quality to ACU stakeholders. She is responsible for managing the University’s Constitution and other governing documents, along with a range of regulatory and compliance frameworks such as the Delegations of Authority, Privacy, Protected Disclosures, Records and Archive Management, and the Policy framework. Diane has also managed thousands of complex legal and governance matters across Australia and internationally including corporate/commercial, intellectual property, real and personal property, construction, privacy, canon law and dispute resolution matters.
In an increasingly complex regulatory environment, Diane is a trusted advisor for senior management and corporate officers. She is regularly called upon to advise the board of directors (the Senate) on key legal developments and to deliver governance training and services for directors. Diane provides commercially astute advice that enables the business to meet its strategic objectives and Mission through a lens of stewardship.
In 2019, Diane received a Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award for developing a pro bono student placement program for ACU’s law students. She was shortlisted as 2020 General Counsel of the year by the Association of Corporate Counsel (Australia) and was also recognised in Australasian Lawyer’s list of 50 Elite Women for 2021. Diane chairs a Cultural Capability Working Group at ACU focusing on ACU’s governance and accountability with respect to First Nations Peoples. She was recently elected as a Director and Company Secretary of the Society of University Lawyers Limited, a corporate body representing Australian university lawyers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a PhD from the University of Sydney, along with a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.
Diane was recently appointed as a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia.