UNSW Law & Justice congratulates and celebrates all Australians recognised in the 2021 Australia Day Honours, in particular those belonging to our valued alumni community:

Professor Ronald Bartsch LLB 1990, was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to aviation law, and to safety and compliance.

Peter Gogarty MCJC 2018, was awarded a Medal in the General Division of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community through support for survivors of childhood abuse.

We caught up with Ron to talk about his career, being awarded an AM, his time at UNSW and his advice those wanting to enter the aviation industry.

Tell us about your career background

I started working life as a high school mathematics and science teacher then moved into the aviation industry as a flying instructor. I worked my way up to Chief Flying Instructor, then flew as a charter pilot and then across regional airlines.

What does being recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia mean to you?

This has been a most humbling experience and the pinnacle of my profession career. 

You were recognised for your significant service to aviation law, and to safety and compliance - what do you consider your biggest achievement?

While being the Head of Safety for Qantas Airways was incredibly challenging and exciting, particularly with the introduction of the Airbus A380 into service, the pro bono work I did in the small Pacific Islands was most rewarding as you could see an immediate and positive outcome. We developed online and assessable aviation safety programs and the participants were all extremely motivated and so appreciative of the effort. 

Do you have any advice for students wanting to work in the aviation industry?

As aviation is generally regarded as the most strictly and extensively regulated industry, it is imperative for anyone working or intending to work in the field to gain a thorough understanding of the legal framework. There are significant legal responsibilities imposed on those working in the sector, so a good working knowledge of aviation law prepares them well for their day-to-day duties. 

What impact has COVID had on Qantas and what’s your view on the future of the aviation industry?

The aviation sector, and in particular, international airlines, have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. However, with these challenges also comes opportunities and I believe that the domestic and regional airline sectors will soon recover with increased domestic tourism.

What’s your most treasured memory of UNSW?

I particularly enjoyed the innovative approach of the law faculty and specifically, UNSW being the first university to teach and promote the use of online legal research platforms including the amazing work of Graham Greenleaf in establishing the AUSTLII. I also gained immense value from the practical moots facilitated by retired justices. 

Law & Justice is celebrating 50 years in 2021. What does Law & Justice mean to you? What do you feel the future holds for the legal profession?

The Faculty has always prided itself on being responsive to societal change and I believe this is the main reason for its success and its high standing within the legal profession and the broader community. The assistance it has provided to less privileged members of our society has been exemplary and has enabled access to legal recourse and justice that would otherwise have been denied.