Bernard was born in 1942 in Melbourne, Australia. Bernard's first work to be published was in 1981 under the pseudonym of Judy Bernard-Waite with The Riddle of the Trumpalar which was written with Judy Nunn and Fiona Waite. In 1983 she wrote her first solo book, We Are Tam, and in 1986 she, along with Nunn and Waite, wrote the sequel to The Riddle of the Trumpalar, entitled Challenge of the Trumpalar. From 1988 to 1999 Bernard wrote six more novels including The Outcast Trilogy and one piece of short-fiction which was featured in an anthology edited by Paul Collins. Book one of The Outcast Trilogy, The Outcast was a short-list nominee for the 1997 Aurealis Award for best young-adult novel but lost to Isobelle Carmody's Greylands and Eye to Eye by Catherine Jinks. During her life Bernard has travelled to many countries including Cuba where she was the first resident of New South Wales to be given a visa for Cuba.