Sir Zelman Cowen Centre

Queen Street campus interior

Queen Street campus interior

We work with a range of employers to provide training, research and support. We identify their training needs then design programs and events to assist.

Our services are aimed at:

  • the government
  • judiciary
  • legal practitioners
  • court staff and
  • other professions associated with the legal sector.

The Centre is named in honour of Australia’s former Governor-General and distinguished legal academic, the late Sir Zelman Cowen.

On this page


VU's Queen Street Campus, home of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre

Queen Street Campus

We deliver a number of postgraduate and professional development courses aimed at providing high quality further training and support to the judiciary and legal profession.

Our Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law and Practice is an entry-level training course, necessary for registration as a migration agent in Australia.

Some other featured courses we offer are:

Find postgraduate courses in the College of Law & Justice.

Find professional development courses in the College of Law & Justice.

Learn more about our college staff that present these courses.

Governors-General lecture series

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre is hosting a unique series of lectures delivered by the current and three former Governors-General.

Find out more about the Goverors-General lecture series.


We are involved in a broad number of current projects involving students, industry and the community.

The following are some of the current and past projects we have worked on.

LEAP into Law

Learn, Experience, Access Professions (LEAP) is a community outreach program which involves all Victorian universities. It aims to engage high school students from low socio-economic status schools to help raise their aspirations for university study and careers within Law, Design, Health and Engineering.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre is the lead organisation for the LEAP into Law project. Law workshops are currently being delivered, and work experience placement programs at courts and legal firms commenced in 2014 as part of the LEAP program.

Elder Abuse Prevention and Response Initiative

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Response Initiative was delivered in partnership with the Department of Health. The aim was to raise awareness and provide professional education to strengthen the capacity of service providers, community groups and professionals who support older people to better detect and respond to elder abuse.

This initiative was a great success with 395 professional education workshops being delivered across all regions of Victoria with over 7000 people attending workshops and delivery to over 250 organisations.

Wadawurrung Cultural Heritage Mapping and Management Project

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre began working in the Aboriginal cultural heritage sphere with a project funded by the Legal Services Board of Victoria that reviewed the outcomes associated with the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

In the wake of that project, SZCC successfully applied for William Buckland Foundation funding to work with the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation to develop a system to capture and manage data of cultural significance in the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

The SZCC has piloted the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) as a vital complementary technology to spatial mapping technologies in the field of Indigenous cultural heritage.

Cambodian delegation staff posing for photo

Members of the Cambodian Delegation

Building capacity in the Cambodian Justice System to improve the welfare of children

In 2012, the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre supported Children’s Rights International (CRI) to host a high level Cambodian Delegation consisting of 10 selected personnel from Cambodian Legal Aid, Ministry of Justice, Police and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation respectively.

As Cambodia currently has no separate juvenile justice system, the purpose of this two week program included evaluating practices and procedures in Victoria for the purpose of identifying aspects that can be adapted and implemented in Cambodia.

Bail Justice Training

The Honorary Justices Office from the Department of Justice contracted the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre to review its training for Bail Justices.

Working closely with a range of stakeholders a new program was devised and implemented which trained 68 Bail Justices within the Department of Justice. It included online training, formal assessment, workshops on-site in police stations and multiple role play tasks.

These resources are used in the training of new Bail Justices and provide an interesting insight into the role of Bail Justices – an important and little-known role in our justice system.

Senior appointments

In 2014 we announced the appointment of Dr Kathy Laster as the Director of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre.

Earlier in the year we also announced The Honourable Nicola Roxon taking up a position as an Adjunct Professor within the College of Law and Justice, and chair of the Sir Zelman Cowen Advisory Board.


There are three rooms for hire at our Queen St premises. Potential clients can book these rooms for seminars, meetings, training courses or other functions.

Read more about facility hire and catering at the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre.

About Sir Zelman Cowen

Bronze bust of Sir Zelman Cowen

Bronze bust of Sir Zelman Cowen

Sir Zelman Cowen, AK GCMG GCVO QC, was one of Australia's most distinguished jurists. He was born in St Kilda in 1919, and studied law at Oxford University.

From 1951, he was Professor of Public Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law at Melbourne University. He was knighted in 1976 and appointed Governor-General of Australia in 1977.

In 1982, he became Provost of Oriel College Oxford in 1982 and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Oxford in 1988. He also served as Chairman of the UK Press Council between 1983 and 1988.

In 1994, he accepted the positions of Distinguished Visiting Professor and Chair of the Victoria University Foundation. As Chair of the Foundation, he led the University's efforts in gaining philanthropic support for students in their studies, including contributions for prizes and scholarships. On retiring as Chair of the Foundation he agreed to continue his involvement by accepting an honorary appointment position as Inaugural Patron and remained a staunch friend of the University.

Sir Zelman passed away on 8 December 2011.

Contact us

Sir Zelman Cowen Centre
Level 2, City Queen Campus
Phone: +61 3 9919 1843