ALRC Brief | December 2012

Message from the President

Download or listen to audio >>

See transcript.

New Commissioners

We are delighted to welcome two new part-time Commissioners, Federal Court Justice John Middleton and Justice Nye Perram, to the ALRC. The Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Nicola Roxon, announced the appointments on 12 December 2012.

See ALRC media release >>

Inquiry update

Both inquiry teams have been busy since end-November conducting consultations with stakeholders, and reading and analysing submissions. The Copyright team received 270+ submissions in response to the Issues Paper, and the Age Barriers to Work team received more than 110 submissions.

In the New Year, the Copyright team will move into its second round of face-to-face consultations ahead of releasing a Discussion Paper in May, while the Age Barriers team will be working towards completing its final report, to be delivered to the Attorney-General by 31 March 2013.

More on:

Copyright and the Digital Economy >>

Age Barriers to Work >>

Reform roundup


On 9 November 2012, Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, announced on ABC radio , that with regards to the Government’s position on the mandatory internet filter he accepts the ALRC’s recommendation regarding the RC category:

‘I called for a review of the refused classification category back in 2010. That review went through 2011 and [the ALRC] reported back this year. And they said the current definition of RC was too broad; a new category should be put in place. 

And I accepted that and I’ve taken the recommendation and been negotiating with the industry and now we’ve reached agreement.’

See full transcript of the interview >>

See final report, Classification—Content Regulation and Convergent Media (ALRC Report 118)


On 29 November 2012, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced that the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Amendment Bill 2012 passed Parliament. The Bill amends the Privacy Act 1988 to implement the Government’s first stage response to ALRC report For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108). The reforms will commence 15 months after royal assent.

Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws.

On 17 June 2012, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen and the Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, announced changes to Australia’s migration laws to help those experiencing family violence on provisional partner visas, as a partial response to the Commonwealth Family Violence Report – in particular, Recommendations 21-3 and 21-5.

In addition to the migration changes, there has been significant movement in the family violence leave and workplace entitlements space.

Since the inquiry, the Government has made several announcements and committed funding in this area. For example, the Government announced the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence to Reduce Violence Against Women. The ADFVC received additional funding to expand its Workplace Rights and Entitlements Project. The Australian Government provided  $132,000 over the six months to 30 June 2012, in addition to the $440,000 which was provided from 1 July 2010 to 31 December 2011. The Minister for Women also launched the ADFVC Safe at Home, Safe at Work? Toolkit for workplaces last week. (See Recs 15-1 and 15.5).

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is now collecting data on family violence-related clauses and references in enterprise agreements and including it as part of the Workplace Agreements Database. This corresponds with Rec 15-4.

The ALRC also recommended (Rec 16-4) the Australian Government support the inclusion of family violence clauses in enterprise agreements. Since the inquiry, numerous family violence clauses have been included in enterprise agreements and the ADFVC suggests that over half a million Australian employees are now covered by family violence clauses. The clauses have been incorporated into enterprise agreements across industries including aged care, banking, education and training, electrical contracting, railways, water and local government. In addition, the Australian Public Service Commission has just released a Circular noting the potential impact of family violence in the workplace (referring to impacts we listed in the Report).

Further, on 25 June 2012, Amanda Rishworth MP, Member for Kingston South Australia,  received bipartisan Parliamentary support for a motion recognising the connection between family violence and employment and the ‘positive impact of the inclusion of domestic violence clauses in contracts of employment’ and urging ‘all private companies and public sectors to include domestic violence clauses in their enterprise agreements to provide victims with important protections such as access to leave in addition to existing entitlements’.

In Recommendation 16-8, the ALRC suggested that the Australian Human Rights Commission should examine the possible basis upon which status as an actual or perceived victim of family violence could be included as a protected attribute under Commonwealth anti-discrimination law. The AHRC implemented the ALRC’s recommendation and made a submission to this effect to the Attorney-General’s Department as part of the process of consolidating Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws. A range of other organisations made similar submissions.

Annual Report

The ALRC 2011-2012 Annual Report —our first as an FMA agency—was tabled on 15 October 2012 and is available on the website in a variety of formats.

Internship program

During 2012, the ALRC hosted 15 interns: 10 domestic, 5 international students.  We gratefully acknowledge the contribution to the ALRC’s work by:  Scott McIntosh (Harvard), Ricki Sutherland and Brooke Greenwood (Australian National University), Emille Boulot (Monash University), Ellenor Hayes (Newcastle University), Jillian Morrison (University of Western Sydney), Hannah Innes and Hannah Ryan (University of Sydney),  Ellen Chapple (ANU/USyd), Lindi Todd and Max Dalton (University of NSW), Laurie Holmes and Sharity Bannerman (University of Maryland),  Fritz Siregar (AusAid Scholar, Uni of NSW), and Max Bulinski (University of Michigan) — and we wish them well for the future.

A special thanks to Max Bulinski, Frtiz Siregar, and Hannah Ryan and Max Dalton, who indulged us by recording interviews in which they describe their experiences as ALRC interns:

Dates for the 2013 program 


Intern period

Closing date for applications

Semester 1 (part time)

1 April – 14 June (1 day a week)

11 Feb

Semester 2 (part time)

26 August – 15 Nov (1 day a week)

8 July

Summer 2014 (full time)

3 week period between either:

  • 13 Jan – 31 Jan; or
  • 3 Feb – 21 Feb
28 October

Kirby Cup presentation

On 22 November, inaugural ALRC Chairman, the Hon Michael Kirby, joined ALRC staff in a small ceremony to present the Kirby Cup to the winner of this year’s competition, Michael Dorman from Monash University, and to congratulate runner-up, Peter Key-Matuszak from UNSW.

The topic for the 2012 competition tied in with the current Copyright and the Digital Economy inquiry, and asked respondents  to “suggest one or more new statutory exceptions for the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations, and explain why it/they should be introduced or, alternatively, explain why further exceptions should not be introduced.”

Michael’s winning essay, Saving the right to parallel import in a digital world, is published on the ALRC website, and, at Michael’s request, has also been accepted as a submission to the Copyright inquiry.

The Kirby Cup is an essay competition held annually by the ALRC to encourage law students to engage with law reform generally, and with ALRC inquiries.

Photo: The Hon Michael Kirby with 2012 Kirby Cup winner, Michael Doorman.