Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology

Dr Deidre Ngaio Greig MA, DipEd, DipSocStud, PhD (Melb) (1934 –2023)

Dr Deidre Greig died on 2 July 2023 at her home in the bayside town of Sorrento in Victoria. She leaves her husband, Alex, and children Raya, Kendra, Jarrod and Piertra.

The Australian criminological community recognises her important contribution to the establishment of the discipline in Melbourne and in Australia and New Zealand, being one of the first women to be appointed to the Board of Studies in Criminology at the University of Melbourne in 1960 as a Tutor, and later as a Lecturer from 1962. She was also present at the inaugural meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) on 24 October 1967 and attended the 50th anniversary of this event on 24 October 2017 in the same room at the Parkville campus. She regularly attended ANZSOC conferences and participated in the administration of the Society over many years.

Deidre was also a driving force in the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law (ANZAPPL) that was founded in 1978 by the late forensic psychiatrist, Dr Robert (Bob) Myers. She had a lengthy involvement in the work of ANZAPPL being a committee member for many years and later, President.

Deidre’s training in social welfare studies and education provided a basis for her lifelong academic interest in the interaction between the medical and legal professions in their social control functions. This included teaching and research in the path-breaking subject that she introduced at the University of Melbourne, “Psychiatry and the Law” that many criminology students undertook as part of their Diploma and later Degree courses.

Deidre joined the staff of the University of Melbourne when the Board of Studies in Criminology and the Department of Social Studies were under attack with allegations in the Bulletin in April 1961 that some staff were promoting communism. Although not personally involved in this Cold War intrigue, she lived through many difficult periods in the development of criminology at the University and beyond, and survived many changes in Departmental administration and staff over 40 years.   

Deidre focussed on an area of research that others had avoided, making a career in the exploration of criminal justice issues arising from the relationship between psychiatry and the law – especially concerning the control of serious violent offending and dangerous offenders. This topic took on national interest when the question of preventive detention was debated in Victoria in the case of Garry David.

David had a severe antisocial personality disorder and despite the fact that he did not fit within the ordinary criteria of mental illness or criminality, was detained on the grounds of his presumed dangerousness. This resulted in the Community Protection Act 1990 (Vic) being debated on the grounds that it interfered with the law’s protection of civil rights and also because it blurred the professional distinction between a certifiable mental illness and the broader concept of mental disorder. Deidre threw herself into this debate with gusto, arguing that rational preventive and remedial measures were preferable to the use of a system of preventive detention.

Her advocacy on this topic included writing a report for the New South Wales Supreme Court in 1992, another report for the Pakistan Psychiatric Association on the Pakistan Mental Health Act, a report on the politics of dangerousness for the Inquiry into Mental Disturbance and Community Safety in Victoria and an article in Progress in Forensic Psychiatry on community protection legislation, as well as other papers on serious violent offenders and the politics of dangerousness.

Deidre’s publications canvassed a wide range of social welfare and criminological issues, mostly with an emphasis on medico-legal questions such as the role of the law in regulating alcoholism, decentralisation of social control, the criminal justice system and intellectually disabled offenders and corporatisation of prisons.

During and after the 1990s, however, she focussed mainly on criminal responsibility and mental health leading to the award of a PhD by the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne in 2000 entitled “Neither Bad Nor Mad: The Competing Discourses of Psychiatry, Law and Politics”. This work was later published by Jessica Kingsley Publications in London in 2002.

These topics were also addressed in ANZAPPLs annual congresses and the ANZAPPL journal Psychiatry, Psychology and Law published twice a year between 1993 and 2007 by Australian Academic Press and from 2008 five times a year by Taylor and Francis. Between 1985 and 1990, Deidre and Ellen Berah, and later Ian Freckelton, edited the proceedings of each ANZAPPL congress.

Following her retirement, Deidre maintained her interest in these topics as a Fellow in the Department of Criminology at the University of Melbourne, while also travelling extensively overseas, with a special interest in visiting the major architectural treasures of the world. Deidre had extensive family connections in Canada, and visited often. In later years, Deidre was prominent in U3A and literary endeavours on the Mornington Peninsula, and was a dedicated participant in the Great Books program run by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne.

Deidre was in many ways a trailblazer for women in the workforce. She was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Melbourne crèche. Deidre was not one to publicise her achievements and she gave willingly of her time to students, colleagues and practitioners alike. Her commitment to the discipline will not be forgotten and her warm and honest advice to friends will be missed.

Russell Smith & Steve James

10 July 2023