Update to Profession  – 12 June 2024

  • On 24 May 2024, the Law Society was sent the draft Bill – Justice Miscellaneous (Commission of Inquiry) Bill 2024 for review.
  • At this date, there is no update in relation to the position of the Commonwealth government and funding for a 5th court as part of the Burnie Court Complex to be used for family law matters. In late May 2024, the Law Society of Tasmania co-signed a letter which was sent to The Advocate joining with other stakeholders to express our disappointment over this issue.
  • Dr Warren Mundy’s independent review into the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020-2025 was released on 28 May 2024. The report is available on the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department website.  Dr Mundy was appointed to undertake an independent review of the National Legal Assistance Partnership.  The National Legal Assistance Partnership is an agreement between the Australian Government and States and Territories for the provision of the Australian Government Legal Assistance funding.   The report presents the findings of the review and makes 39 recommendations in relation to future funding arrangements when the current National Legal Assistance Partnership expires on 30 June 2025.
  • Matters of interest to practitioners in Tasmania should be:
    • It was recommended that grants of Legal Aid to private practitioners should be set at the same level as provided in Court scales where the matter is heard.
    • It was recommended that the Commonwealth should fund Legal Aid Commissions to provide Independent Children’s Lawyers appointed by the Family Law Courts costs at the relevant levels of the Court scales prevailing at the time the service is provided.
    • It was recommended that the funding for Women’s Legal Services be separated from the general Community Legal CLE Scheme and quarantined. It was recommended each jurisdiction establish a women’s legal assistance forum.
    • It was recommended commencing in 2025-2026 the Australian Government stablish a HECS-HELP debt forgiveness scheme for rural, regional, and remote community sector Lawyers and those in private practice doing substantial legal assistance work and should leverage the learnings of similar schemes currently administered for the medical and teaching workforce. This is something which the Law Council of Australia has advocated for and is relevant to practitioners based in the North and other regional areas.
  • On 7 June 2024, I attended the Justice forum hosted by the Tasmanian Attorney General.
  • On 26 June 2024, the Law Society will be attending the career’s expo hosted by Collegiate and Hutchins.
  • There is just over a week until Patrick O’Halloran and I participate in the Vinnies CEO sleep out in Launceston. Our fundraising target for the Law Society is $3000 and we have raised just over $2000.00.  Just a reminder to practitioners and firms that you can donate to show your support to the Law Society on the following link:  https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/fundraisers/JuliaHiggins/Tasmania

JULIA HIGGINS
President