By now approximately 140 members have participated in the Law Society’s Sexual Harassment, Changing Workplace Culture workshop. The workshop has been conducted several times across the state including in Hobart, Burnie and most recently in Launceston.
I would like to personally thank members for their enthusiasm and willingness to actively participate in the workshop, and for their feedback. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and has included constructive thoughts and ideas about how the Society can build on its training in this area into the future. On this point, at the recent meeting of Law Society Presidents in June, we discussed the idea of developing a training package on bystander training. We concluded it would be beneficial to create a program with the efforts and input of the various Law Societies across the nation. Accordingly, it was resolved at the Conference of Law Societies to look at developing a single package that could be rolled out nationwide (and probably in 2022).
Law Society Strategic Planning
At our meeting of Council on 30 July 2021, we spent time reflecting on our current strategic plan, and what our plan should look like for the next three to five years. Our discussions focused on the push of the present, the pull of the future, and a consideration of the Society as it is viewed from the perspective of members now and what members will increasingly expect in the future.
A working group comprising Simon Gates, Julia Higgins, Amanda Thompson and I will meet over the course of this month to distil down the Society’s aspirations and formulate its plan to achieve those aspirations, with the aim of presenting a final draft strategic plan to Council at our September, 2021 meeting.
I look forward to presenting our new Strategic Plan before the end of this Council year.
Recent Activities and Events
Immediately after my last update on 14 July, I spoke to the Examiner newspaper about medicinal cannabis use and the defences available to drivers who return a positive drug test. My comments appeared in an article published on 18 July 2021 “Tasmanian medicinal cannabis driving legislation ‘leading’ the country” that can be viewed here.
Late last month I confirmed with Meg Webb that the Law Society would welcome the opportunity to brief the Legislative Council about her motion to raise the age of criminal responsibility. As I have previously noted it is the Society’s position that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised from ten to at least 14 years old.
I was interviewed by the Examiner earlier this month about raising the age of criminal responsibility in Tasmania, and an article was published on 7 August “Calls grow in Tasmania to raise the age of criminal responsibility” that can be viewed here.
On Friday, 23 July 2021 Amanda Thompson participated in the Tasmanian Prison Service’s Legal Stakeholders Consultative Group. This newly established Consultative Group is chaired by Ian Thomas, the Director of Prisons will meet approximately every six weeks and will comprise the following participants/members:
- Greg Barnes SC, Chair, Prisoners Legal Group
- Vincenzo Caltabiano, Director, Legal Aid
- Trevor McKenna, President Law Society
- Penny Ikedife, Magistrates Court
- Jim Connolly, Supreme Court
- Ian Thomas, Director of Prisons
The Consultative Group will be a useful forum for the Law Society to express the views and concerns of our members in relation to their dealings with the Prison Service and prisoners. If members have any issues they would like the Society to raise, please contact me or Luke Rheinberger.
On Thursday, 29 July I spoke to the Mercury Newspaper about Judicial Appointments and the characteristics of Judges generally, and an article was subsequently published on 3 August 2021 that can be read here.
On Friday, 30 July I addressed the Magistrate’s Court on behalf of the profession to farewell and celebrate the career of Magistrate Glenn Hay. That Friday marked 13 years and 11 months since Magistrate Hay’s appointment to the bench and his 45th year as a legal practitioner. I addressed the Court about Magistrate Hay’s time before and after his appointment to the Court. In my speech I remarked:
“Your Honour it can be safely said, and indeed many have observed, especially on the realisation that this would your final year with the Court, that you were a popular Magistrate.
You are popular not only from the perspective of the lawyers and prosecutors appearing before you, but too from the point of view of litigants that appeared before you, a great many of whom were self-represented.
As practitioners coming to this Court, we spend a great deal of time in the waiting area just outside this Court. There’s always an atmosphere out there. Often punctuated by interesting banter. Something that always catches the ear of practitioners, is the opinion of litigants about the Magistrate to whom they will appear before.
In the case of your Honour, it was common to hear from a criminal defendant facing the prospect of a period of incarceration or a parent in a child protection case that they were glad it was you they were appearing before.
Of course, that assessment of you is hardly surprising.
Your Honour has always treated practitioners and litigants in person with great courtesy, even when, maybe at times, it was not necessarily deserved. “
My full speech can be viewed here.
Commission of Inquiry Stakeholder Engagement
The Law Society has confirmed its interest in participating in the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings.
The Commission will soon commence conducting consultations with stakeholders across Tasmania to discuss the current gaps or challenges in the Tasmanian Government’s responses and help identify opportunities for change. Discussions will focus on current systems, including what is working well, what the current problems, gaps and challenges are, and what changes need to be made to prevent child sexual abuse from occurring and to improve responses to, and the reporting of, abuse.
The Law Society and its committees are currently working on the following projects:
- Submission to the LCA: Enduring Power of Attorney Law Reforms
- Submission to the LCA: Proposed model definition of family violence – involving the views and collaborative efforts of the Family Law Committee, chaired by Mary Anne Ryan, the Family Law Practitioner’s Association and the Society’s Criminal Law Committee.
- A Reconciliation Action Plan for the Law Society – a longer term project.
11 August 2021