ALRC Brief | April 2015

ALRC President’s news

On 26 January this year, Professor Rosalind Croucher, ALRC President was conferred the award of Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to the law as an academic, to legal reform and education, to professional development, and to the arts”. During her eight years at the ALRC, Professor Croucher has overseen 12 inquiries that have covered highly complex and topical areas of law, such as  Privacy, Secrecy, Family Violence, Copyright, Native Title, Classification, Age and Disability. Professor Croucher has been Commissioner-in-charge of eight law reform inquiries and is currently leading the Freedoms Inquiry.

On 12 December, Professor Croucher’s term as ALRC President was renewed for a further 12 months. Professor Croucher has been the President of the ALRC for the past five years and was appointed to the ALRC as a full-time Commissioner in 2007.

On the 28 January, Professor Croucher spoke at the Australia India Youth Dialogue about governance and public policy, with a focus on the ALRC and law reform. On 25 February, Professor Croucher spoke at the launch of the Women Lawyers Association of New South Wales 2015 program, focusing on women lawyers and engagement.

On 9 July Professor Croucher will deliver the School of Law and Justice Annual Michael Kirby Lecture at Southern Cross University.

ALRC 40th anniversary!

2015 is a big year for the Australian Law Reform Commission: we turn 40!  This important milestone gives us a chance to review and celebrate the Commission’s achievements, and the people who have helped realise them. Our official 40th birthday celebrations will begin with an event in Sydney on 23 October 2015* with presentations by the Attorney-General, the Hon Senator George Brandis QC, and other ALRC luminaries. At this event, the ALRC will also launch a new online interactive timeline that will commemorate the ALRC’s past and future achievements and the people behind them, with snapshots of important moments, pivotal bodies of work and sound bites from our eminent alumni.  Also at this event, we will announce the winner of the 40th anniversary student competition (see below).

40th anniversary student competition

As part of the 40 year celebrations, we are offering an Australian law student the chance to win a coveted ALRC internship. Simply answer, in 1000 words or less, the following question:

Why is an independent ALRC good for Australia?

Responses are due by close of business on Monday 25 May 2015.

The competition is only open to currently enrolled Australian law students.

Inquiry update

Review of the Native Title Act

The Native Title Inquiry team is very close to completing its final report. It will be delivered to the Attorney-General by 30 April. The Report will be under embargo until it is tabled, which must happen within 15 sitting days of Parliament.

The ALRC received over 70 submissions to this Inquiry and conducted over 150 consultations around the country. The native title team would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this Inquiry – people who have made submissions and consulted with us, and particularly to the Advisory Committee and Expert Readers, who have been so generous with their expertise and their time.

The ALRC intends to hold an official launch for this important report. We will let stakeholders know once details have been finalised.

Freedoms

The Freedoms team released an Issues Paper in December last year and received approximately 75 submissions in response. A Discussion Paper will be launched at the end of May. The ALRC was extremely pleased that the WIKI initiative produced for this Inquiry has been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2015 Excellence in eGovernment Award. Award winners will be announced at the CeBIT Australia Gala Dinner and Awards night on Wednesday 6 May 2015. 

Equality, Capacity and Disability

The Final Report for the Disability Inquiry, Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws (ALRC Report 124), was tabled on 24 November 2015. The ALRC formally launched the report on Thursday 11 December 2014, in Sydney. The launch was attended by Evan Lewis, on behalf of Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield; the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, MP; the Hon Jenny Macklin MP, members of the Inquiry’s Advisory Committee, and a range of stakeholders and Inquiry participants.

Reform roundup

Classification—Content Regulation and Convergent Media (ALRC Report 118)

On 10 March 2015, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan announced that Australia has joined the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC)—a partnership of government and industry content classification authorities from around the world and Australia—with a view to trialling the use of IARC’s new tool for classifying mobile and online games. This is consistent with ALRC recommendations 7-4 and 7-6.

Family Violence—a National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114 )

On 2 April 2015, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell  announced “a major family violence legislative reform program that will address the recommendations from the Australia Law Reform Commission’s Family ViolenceA National Legal Response”. At this stage it is not clear what exactly that program consists of, but we will certainly keep a close eye on developments.

Access All Ages—Older Workers and Commonwealth Laws (ALRC Report 120)

On 16 April 2015, the Australian Human Rights Commission launched “Willing to Work”, a national inquiry into discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability. The Inquiry will be led by the Age and Disability Commissioner, Susan Ryan, who was Part-time Commissioner with the ALRC during its Inquiry on Age Barriers to Work. The Terms of Reference for this new Inquiry specifically require it to have regard to the ALRC ‘s 2013 report, Access All Ages—Older Workers and Commonwealth Laws.

Legal internship program

Over January and February, the ALRC welcomed eight interns who assisted the Freedoms and Native Title teams: Ellie Greenwood from ANU; Martyn Gray, Sarah Sacher and Tali Rechtman from Monash University; Jordan Tutton from Flinders University;  Anna Holmes from the University of Western Australia; and Sally Embelton and William Isdale from the University of Queensland.

We have another four interns with us part-time during Semester 1: Rosetta Lee from ANU, Tristan Orgill from Sydney University, Claudia Crause from UNSW; and Robert Size from UTS.   

We’d like to thank all our fabulous interns for their contribution to the ALRC’s work.

Applications for Semester 2 are now open, closing on 22 June 2015.

Additionally, there is a chance to win an ALRC internship by taking part in the 40th anniversary competition (see above).

* The date was originally published as 9 June 2015, but has since been changed to 23 October 2015.