Portrait of Peter Norden

Peter Norden

Peter Norden is an adjunct professor at RMIT, and former Catholic chaplain at Pentridge. In 2009, Peter left the priesthood and the church. After decades of service, he no longer identified with the institutional Catholic Church.

He was a vocal critic of the prison system and a strong advocate for prison reform. He worked to expose the oppression that led to the 1987 Jika Jika fire that killed five prisoners, and was required to identify their bodies. Today, he continues his advocacy of criminal and social-justice reform.

Peter was Catholic chaplain at Pentridge for seven years after taking over from Father John Brosnan in 1985. He would help young or inexperienced prisoners entering the system for the first time, administer last rites to suicide or murder victims, and look after the pastoral needs of the prisoners. The job was a balancing act because he needed the permission of prison officers to access the prison while working to improve conditions for prisoners.

In 2007 he was made an officer in the Order of Australia (AO) ‘for services to community development through social research and programs aimed at assisting marginalised young people and offenders, to the mental health sector, and to the Catholic Church in Australia’.