On Tuesday the Society circulated its Annual Report and I look forward to presenting it to our members at tomorrow’s Annual General Meeting in my final public act as 57th President of the Law Society of Tasmania.

I encourage each of you to take the time to read the Annual Report which is our report card to you and to the community on the important work of the Society, its goals and its financial circumstances.

In our annual report, towards the end of the President’s Report I remarked:

“This reporting period has been a productive and successful one for the Society. That success is made possible thanks to the 16 members of the Society’s Council, our 9 specialist Committees and the activities of each regional Young Lawyers Committee.” 

Members of Council, our specialist Committees and each of the regional young lawyers committees volunteer considerable time, effort, and expertise to assist the Society in accomplishing its policy, regulatory and functional responsibilities. The commitment of each member cannot be understated. I thank each member of Council and our committees for their efforts over the past 12 months.

Farewell and Thank You
Tomorrow I will chair the Society’s Annual General Meeting at 4PM (to which I hope to see many of you in attendance) and my last meeting of Council on Saturday, 16 October 2021.

Subject to the view of Council, I anticipate our vice president Simon Gates will be elected the Society’s 58th President.

It has been an absolute honour and pleasure to represent the Tasmanian legal profession over the past twelve months.

As this is my last weekly update to the profession, I wanted to place on the record my gratitude to all of those who have supported me as the Society’s 57th President including:

  • Each member of Council, my executive committee and each of our committees.
  • The Society’s Executive Director Luke Rheinberger who has provided tremendous support to me (and to the Society more generally).
  • The staff of the Law Society who play an important role behind the scenes ensuring the organisation operates seamlessly and meets the needs and expectations of our members.

I especially want to thank my firm Ogilvie Jennings for their encouragement and support over the past twelve months.  The Partners of my firm have allowed me to focus as much time and energy into this role as was necessary to ensure I had a successful and productive term as President.

Appointment of Members of Council
We had regional elections on Wednesday, 6 October 2021. As a result of those elections, tomorrow at our AGM we will appoint (or re-appoint) the following as members of Council:

  • Northern regional election: Evan Hughes, Robert Hegarty, Amber Cohen and Julia Higgins, each of whom are current members of Council.
  • North west regional election: Helen Bassett (current member) and Callum Purcell.
  • Southern regional election: Amelia Higgs, Dinesh Loganathan and current members Will Justo and Amanda Thompson.

At tomorrows AGM we welcome three new members to Council namely Callum Purcell (North West) together with Amelia Higgs and Dinesh Loganathan.

Raising the Age
On 12 October I met with the Director or Legal Aid Tasmania Vincenzo Caltabiano to discuss our respective organisation’s positions on raising the age of criminal responsibility. We also discussed Legal Aid’s important Children First Report focusing on children in the child safety and youth justice system.

Yesterday I delivered a presentation to members of the Legislative Council about the importance of raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years of age. I spoke about the Society’s policy position and the policy position of the Law Council of Australia before shifting the focus of my discussions to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and age in jurisdictions across the world.

I reminded members that the current age of criminal responsibility (10 years) is grossly out of step with international human rights standards and the most recent medical evidence on child cognitive development. I also made reference to various United Nations studies and report cards on Human Rights and the Rights of Children in Australia.

I urged members to make a Policy commitment to raise the age now before then turning to the much more complex question of “how” to achieve that policy commitment.

I suspect over the next twelve or more months the Society will devote more time and energy to this important issue, and it’s the collective hope of Society that Government leads on this issue and commits to raising the age.

My Final Policy Commitment
One item on our agenda for Saturday’s Council meeting is a proposal that the Law Society of Tasmania fund the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). It is my hope that you will soon hear that Council agreed to establishing a working group to be chaired by me who will develop a ‘Reflect’ RAP.

In addition to this we will give consideration to delivering the ‘Come Walk With Us’ cultural education workshop facilitated by Reconciliation Tasmania. This workshop is delivered by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal facilitators and provides an overview of Aboriginal history and culture, invasion and its impact on First Nations Peoples. Members participating in the workshop will accrue a CPD point for our fifth CPD category: ‘Equality and Wellbeing’.

Trevor McKenna