New Inquiry announced – Indigenous Incarceration
On 27 October 2016, the Attorney-General announced a new ALRC inquiry into the incarceration rate of Indigenous Australians. The Terms of Reference will be subject to consultation (managed by the Attorney-General’s Department). The ALRC does not expect to receive final Terms of Reference until February next year. Once these are received it will then commence work on the inquiry.
Submissions to the Elder Abuse Issues Paper closed on 18 August, and we received over 200 submissions. The ALRC greatly appreciates and would like to thank all those who provided us with their insights, observations and suggestions during this process. Public submissions are now available on the ALRC website. The ALRC expects to release the second consultation document for this Inquiry – the Discussion Paper – in the second week of December. The Discussion Paper will include our proposals for law reform. With its release, we will have a final round of consultations and call for submissions. Submissions will be due to the ALRC by the end of February 2017. If you would like to be notified when the Discussion Paper is available, please subscribe to the enews. The ALRC’s Final Report is due to be completed at the end of May 2017.
Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws (ALRC Report 129)
On 8 November 2016, Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC announced a parliamentary inquiry into freedom of speech. The Attorney’s media release notes: “The review of provisions of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission in its Report on Traditional Rights and Freedoms – Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws, released earlier this year.” The Terms of Reference ask the Committee to give particular consideration to the recommendations of Chapter 4 “Freedom of Speech” of the ALRC Report.
Family Violence—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114)
In August 2016, the ACT Government announced a raft of reforms to strengthen the legal response to domestic, family and sexual violence.
The reforms implement 22 recommendations made by the Australian and New South Wales Law Reform Commissions in their report Family Violence – a National Legal Response (Report 114) including:
- introducing a preamble that speaks to the nature and features of family violence;
- expanding the definition of family violence to expressly include a broader range of behaviours including emotional and psychological abuse and economic abuse;
- amending the grounds for making a final order, and after-hours order, to improve access to the protection order scheme in the ACT;
- introducing provisions to prevent self-represented respondents from themselves cross-examining applicants;
- making amendments to allow the complainant’s pre-recorded evidence to be tendered as evidence-in-chief in all sexual assault matters; and
- implementing the scheme for national recognition of family violence orders as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments.
Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Report 122)
In May 2016 the Productivity Commission released its Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements.
Consistent with the ALRC recommendations in its 2013 Copyright and the Digital Economy Report, the Productivity Commission is recommending Australia’s current exception for fair dealing be replaced with a broader US-style fair use exception (Draft rec 5.3). The Productivity Commission also stipulates “the Copyright Act should also specify a non-exhaustive list of illustrative exceptions, drawing on those proposed by the Australian Law Reform Commission”.
The Productivity Commission’s final report was delivered to the Government on 23 September 2016, but is yet to be tabled in Parliament.
We would like to thank the five interns who joined the ALRC in August and October, working alongside the legal team on the Elder Abuse Inquiry one day a week throughout Semester 2: Scott Preswick and Farah Al Majed from UTS, Tierneigh Parnell from Macquarie Uni, Christina Alkhamisi from UWS and Georgia Allen from University of Sydney. You can hear Farah, Scott and Tierneigh discuss their experience as ALRC interns on the website.
Dates for the 2017 intern program are now available online.
We anticipate beginning the Indigenous Incarceration Inquiry in early 2017, and we strongly encourage indigenous law students to apply for an internship with the ALRC so that they can contribute to this important inquiry.
Annual Report 2015-16
The ALRC’s Annual Report for the past financial year was tabled on 12 October 2016, and is available in a variety of formats online.
- Reporting on Traditional Rights and Freedoms – ALRC Freedoms Inquiry, NSW Bar Association, Human Rights Committee, 10 November 2016, Prof Rosalind Croucher AM
- Protecting the Rights of Older Australians from Abuse through Laws and Legal Frameworks—The ALRC’s Elder Abuse Inquiry, AAG 2016 National Conference, Canberra, 4 November 2016, Prof Rosalind Croucher AM
- Modelling Supported Decision Making in Commonwealth Laws – The ALRC’s 2014 Report and Making it Work, AGAC 2016 National Conference, 18 October 2016, Prof Rosalind Croucher AM
- Common Law and the Protection of Rights, Freedoms and Privileges: Insights from the ALRC Freedoms Inquiry, The Mayo Lecture for 2016, James Cook University, Townsville, 12 September 2016, Prof Rosalind Croucher AM
- Mutual Wills — An Ancient Doctrine with Modern Teeth, STEP Qld Annual Trusts and Estates Conference, 2 September 2016, Prof Rosalind Croucher AM
- The ALRC’s Freedoms Report and Government Lawyers— Issues on the Horizon, Australian Government Legal Network, 29 July 2016, Canberra, Prof Rosalind Croucher AM