In my weekly update last week, I noted that from 12 November 2021 the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court) will not have the ability to utilise the premises of the Supreme Court and/or Magistrates Court of Tasmania at Devonport and Burnie.

On learning of that situation, I made contact with the Chief Justice and Chief Judge of the Court, Judge Turnbull and the Department of Justice. It was clear from the responses I received from each that a concerted effort is underway to find a solution to ensure continued access to the Court for those litigants (and practitioners) in the Northwest of the State.

The Department of Justice has provided me with the following for circulation to the profession:

Burnie Sittings of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

As members would no doubt be aware the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCoA) has enjoyed the privilege of using the Supreme Court as its courtroom and chambers during appeal terms and recesses of the Supreme Court for approximately 10 weeks of each year.

This arrangement has been in place for many years, however with the appointment of Magistrate Tamara Jago as the seventh judge of the Supreme Court, and the first resident judge to be based in Burnie, Justice Jago will require full access to her courtroom and chambers on a permanent basis throughout the year.  Justice Jago will commence duties on 1 November 2021, and will require full access to her courtroom and chambers from mid-November.  As a result the Chief Justice has determined that the arrangement with the FCFCoA can no longer continue and the provision of access to the Court’s facilities can no longer be accommodated for a circuit court.

The FCFCoA has 3 sitting weeks scheduled in Burnie until the end of 2021. The sitting weeks of 4 October 2021 and 8 November 2021 will remain in Burnie at the agreement of the Chief Justice, but all matters listed (and to be listed in the future), after 12 November 2021, including the sitting week of 13 December will not be able to be accommodated by the Supreme Court.

The Department of Justice is providing assistance to the FCFCoA to source alternative accommodation on the north-west coast and will provide all support necessary to support that search.  Members will be kept up to date with developments.

The Department will also arrange a meeting with relevant FCFCoA personnel and the Burnie Court Development project team to discuss what opportunities there may be in the longer term to discuss accommodation arrangements in the new Courts Complex at Mooreville Road in Burnie.  If members have any queries in relation to this update, please direct them to Kristy Bourne, Deputy Secretary, Corrections and Justice – or (03) 6165 4943.

National Golden Gavel

I wanted to congratulate the ever-talented Ali Sawyer for her stellar effort on 17 September at the National Golden Gavel competition held in Brisbane.

Ali’s topic was ‘White male privilege: the vaccine edition’. Reflecting on Ali’s performance Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, President of the Law Council of Australia said:

“You spoke with great intelligence and wit on the topic of ‘White male privilege: the vaccine edition’ (despite your concerns about not having the money to make the third blind trust joke of the night).

 Thank you for bringing your time, energy, and talent to the event. Without you and the other contestants, we would have been deprived of this opportunity for the national profession to get together and have a much-needed laugh.”

You can view Ali’s performance from the night via the QYL National Golden Gavel Gala page on Facebook

 Reconciliation Action Plan

Alison Wells, Luke Rheinberger and I met with Reconciliation Tasmania this week to explore how the Law Society of Tasmania might develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) or implement other initiatives demonstrating a commitment to reconciliation actions within our profession.

As part of this process, I have asked Reconciliation Tasmania to cost and scope a project designed at developing a Reconciliation Action Plan suited to our profession. Alongside this I will develop and present a paper to my final meeting of Council on 16 October 2021 to advance the Society’s consideration of developing a RAP.

Raising the age of criminal responsibility in Tasmania

Members would be aware it is the position and policy of the Law Society that the Tasmanian Government should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age.

The Society’s position is consistent with major Australian organisations representing the medical, mental health and child welfare professions. Our collective views are consistent with the almost untied voice of Australian and international human rights bodies and organisations.

As part of the Society’s ongoing advocacy about this important issue I will meet with Members of the Legislative Council on 13 October to urge members to support raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years.