ALRC Brief | November 2013

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Message from the President

2013 has been a massive year for the ALRC. We completed two inquiries, Age Barriers to Work and Copyright and the Digital Economy. We commenced three new inquiries: Legal barriers for people with disabilitySerious Invasions of Privacy; and the Native Title Act. For a significant part of the year have been working on four inquiries at once—double the norm for the ALRC.

To assist with these new inquiries, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming three new Commissioners: Professor Barbara McDonald (leading the Privacy Inquiry) and Professor Lee Godden (leading Native Title); and Graeme Innes AM as part-time Commissioner (assisting me with Disability). We are also very fortunate to have two standing part-time Commissioners, the Hon Justice Nye Perram and the Hon Justice John Eric Middleton, both Justices of the Federal Court.

Sadly, and with great gratitude, we have also had to farewell part-time Commissioners during 2013. The Hon Susan Ryan AO assisted the Age Barriers to Work team, and her commission with the ALRC ended when we delivered our Report to the Attorney-General in March 2013. The Hon Justice Berna Collier, who has been a part-time Commissioner with the ALRC since 2007, finished her final term with us in October. Justice Collier has contributed to the ALRC’s work across numerous inquiries, most recently attending consultations in relation to the Disability Inquiry. I am delighted that she will see this Inquiry through by serving on the Advisory Committee.

Our most imminent departure is Commissioner Jill McKeough. Professor McKeough has led the Copyright Inquiry for the past 18 months and will see the final report delivered to the Attorney-General on 30 November. Mission accomplished! Jill led the Copyright team with intelligence, purpose and good humour, and has ensured that over the course of this very complex and contested inquiry, our many stakeholders have been able to have their say and have their views deeply considered. Her commitment and adherence to the ALRC’s open and transparent processes have gained her enormous respect from all sides and I am extremely impressed with the rigour and thoroughness of the final report she and her team of legal officers have produced. I am confident it will become one of the ALRC’s most highly regarded reports. It has been a great honour to work alongside Jill during this time and we wish her the very best in whatever new adventures she undertakes.

As this is the last ALRC Brief for 2013, I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the ALRC’s work this year, through making submissions, through sharing your experiences of the laws in question with us, by membership of our Advisory Committees or expert panels, or by consulting with us face to face. The ALRC’s work is greatly enhanced by your thoughtful insights and advice and we really would not be able to do our job without your generous and often heartfelt contributions. A very sincere thank you from all of us.

I hope your interest in our work will continue as we report on both the Serious Invasions of Privacy Inquiry and the Disability Inquiry next year. Our work in the Native Title area will continue throughout 2014 so it will be another very busy and interesting year for law reform. We also look forward to taking on projects that the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, will have for us.

Finally I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and safe end of year and wish you all the very best for 2014.

ALRC President, Professor Rosalind Croucher

ALRC information in non-English languages and Easy English

Through its Multicultural Plan, the ALRC commits to engaging and consulting with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and to consider the impact on CALD communities when formulating recommendations for law reform.

In order to assist people from diverse communities engage in the ALRC’s work, the ALRC has produced two key information sheets in 20 community languages. They provide information about the ALRC and its processes, and how people can make submissions.

See Information in other languages >>

The ALRC has also produced this information in an Easy English format, along with our policy for communicating with people with disability, and the Disability Inquiry Issues Paper.  Easy English is more accessible for people who have difficulty reading and understanding written information.

See our Easy English information and documents >> 

Inquiry update

Copyright

The Final Report in the Copyright Inquiry, Copyright and the Digital Economy (Report 122, 2013), has been completed and will be presented to the Attorney-General on 29 November. 

Under the ALRC Act, the government now has 15 Parliamentary sitting days within which to table the Report. Once tabled it will become a public document. The Report will then be available from the ALRC website in a variety of formats.

Disability

The Issues Paper for the Disability Inquiry, Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws (IP 44) was released online in mid November . The ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to over 40 questions, or to any of the background material and analysis contained in the Issues Paper. 

The Issues Paper is available free of charge on the ALRC website and as an ebook. The ALRC has also produced an Easy English version of the Issues paper.

Submissions are due to the ALRC by Monday 20 January 2014. 

The ALRC will continue consultations as submissions come in and then work towards the Discussion Paper for release in April.

Native Title

The Native Title Inquiry team is undertaking research and consultations and is working towards the release of an Issues Paper in mid March 2014. The team is heading up to the Northern Territory and Queensland before Christmas as part of this consultation effort and has also met with several organisations in Sydney and Melbourne. Commissioner in charge of the Inquiry, Professor Lee Godden, has until March 2015 to deliver the final Report.

Privacy

The Privacy team led by Commissioner Professor Barbara McDonald released its Issues Paper for the inquiry into Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era in October 2013, and submissions closed on 11 November 2013. To date the team has undertaken consultations in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney and has received over 55 submissions to the Issues Paper. A Discussion Paper will be released at the end of February.

Join the Privacy online discussion >>

Internship program 2014

We received over 140 applications for the summer internship program and, after a difficult selection process, the ALRC has chosen eight exceptional students for January and February. The successful candidates have been chosen from around the country—from ANU, Monash University, the University of Queensland, the University of New England, and Melbourne University.

Dates for the 2014 program and information about how to apply are now available on the ALRC website.

Annual Report

The ALRC’s Annual Report for 2012-13 was tabled on 23 October and is now available online.

See Annual Report 2012-13 >>