ALRC Brief | August 2017

Acting President announced

On 28 July 2017 Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, announced the appointment of Mr Robert Cornall AO as the Acting President of the Australian Law Reform Commission. Mr Cornall has been appointed for a period of three months, commencing 30 July 2017, while a recruitment process will be undertaken to fill the vacancy left by Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM.

Seeking new President!

The Attorney-General’s Department is now advertising the position of President of the Australian Law Reform Commission.

For the full position description, visit careers.ag.gov.au.

Applications close on 14 August 2017.

Farewell to President Rosalind Croucher

On 20 June 2017, Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, announced the appointment of Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM as the next President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Professor Croucher commenced her Presidency at the AHRC on 30 July 2017.

A farewell was held for Professor Croucher on 7 July 2017, attended by, amongst others, past ALRC Presidents—the Hon Michael Kirby and the Hon Elizabeth Evatt—past and present ALRC Commissioners and staff, Advisory Committee members, family and special friends.

Professor Croucher summed up her near-decade with the ALRC:

I’ve led nine law reform Inquiries … churned out 116 papers and 32 articles, worked with five Attorneys-General, fronted two inquiries into the existence of the ALRC, have embraced Senate Estimates with a perverse pleasure, and managed to get both ‘Whoops’ and Monty Python’s Black Knight into Hansard.

Professor Croucher also thanked past and present ALRC Commissioners and Advisory Committee members, and ALRC staff:

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to lead such a wonderful, enduring agency as the ALRC. There are not many roles where you can honestly say that you love to come to work each day. This is in large measure due to the people I have worked with. First, the legal officers, past and present, I pay tribute to your intellectual rigour and your dedication and commitment to our shared enterprise.

Professor Croucher personally thanked the “most stellar of Executive Directors”, Sabina Wynn, and the corporate and finance team and noted that “esprit de corps is also so much more than the work itself … and I have deeply appreciated the personal support at times it was needed.”

We are extremely grateful to Professor Croucher for her leadership and service to the ALRC, and wish her all the best in her new role.

Inquiry update

Incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The Australian Law Reform Commission released a Discussion Paper, Incarceration Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (DP 84), on 19 July 2017, and is calling for comments and feedback on its questions and law reform proposals.

The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. The ALRC was asked to consider a number of factors that decision makers take into account when deciding on a criminal justice response, including community safety, the availability of alternatives to incarceration, the degree of discretion available, and incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.  The Terms of Reference also direct the ALRC to consider laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

The ALRC invites submissions in response to the proposals, questions and analysis in the Discussion Paper. Submissions are due to the ALRC by 4 September 2017.

If you wish to be notified of further developments in relation to this Inquiry, please subscribe to the Inquiry enews.

The ALRC is required to present its Report on the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017. 

Elder abuse

The ALRC delivered its Report, Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response, to the Attorney-General on 31 May 2017. The Report was launched in Melbourne on 15 June, at the 2017 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Forum. ALRC President Rosalind Croucher, who led the Elder Abuse Inquiry, addressed the Forum.

The Report includes 43 recommendations for law reform and represents the culmination of research and consultation over a 15-month period. We received more than 450 submissions in response to two consultation documents —an Issues Paper and a Discussion Paper — and conducted 117 consultations around Australia.

Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131) is available for viewing and download at the ALRC website.

The ALRC has produced three explainer podcasts discussing some of the key recommendations.

Reform round-up

Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Report 122)

On 15 June 2017, the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and other Measures) Bill passed the Senate. The amendment will enable people with disabilities to access and enjoy books and other material in formats they can use, such as braille, large print or DAISY audio. This is consistent with recommendations in ALRC Report 122, in particular Rec 16-1.

Connection to Country: Review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (ALRC Report 126)

The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 passed the Senate on 14 June 2017. The amendments implement two ALRC recommendations. Recommendation 10-1  stated that the current provision, which requires a traditional decision-making process to be used to authorise an applicant unless such a process does not exist, should be amended to ensure that claim groups can choose whether to use a traditional decision-making process or an agreed-upon decision-making process. Recommendation 10-2 stated that the current provision, which requires a traditional decision-making process to be used to authorise ILUAs unless such a process does not exist, should be amended to ensure that claim groups can choose whether to use a traditional decision-making process or an agreed-upon decision-making process.

Intern program

Over the winter semester break the ALRC was delighted to host Indigenous law student from Melbourne University, Declan Fry, for five weeks under the Aurora Internship Program. Declan was a fantastic addition to the Indigenous Incarceration team.

In Semester 2, the ALRC looks forward to welcoming Shirisha Nampalli, Isha Fay, and Paige Bisset, students at UNSW, Umeya Chaudhuri and Ann Wen, students at Sydney University, and Nicola Colagiuri, from UTS.  

The next intern intake is Summer 2018, for full-time placements between 8 Jan – 26 Jan or 29 Jan – 16 Feb 2018 (5 days for 3 weeks). The closing date for applications is 23 October 2017.

Apply for a Summer 2018 internship >>