ALRC InBrief | October 2014

Inquiry update

Review of the Native Title Act

The Native Title Inquiry team has just released a Discussion Paper – the second consultation document for this Inquiry. It is available in HTML, PDF, and as an ebook.

The ALRC is calling for submissions in response to the Discussion Paper. Submissions are due on 18 December  2014.

The legal team will embark on a national round of consultations over the next month or so.

Serious Invasions of Privacy

The Final Report for this Inquiry was tabled in Parliament and made publicly available on 3 September 2014.

The Report and a Summary Report are available to freely download, or can be purchased in hard copy from the ALRC. The Report is also freely available as an ebook.

See media release >>

Since the release of the report there have been interesting cases emerging in the news that will test the current law on privacy, such as, for example, Spurr vs New Matilda.

Equality, Capacity and Disability

The Final Report for the Disability Inquiry has been delivered to the Attorney-General and is now awaiting tabling in Parliament, when it will be made publicly available. We will notify subscribers to the Disability enews as soon as this happens


The Freedoms team is working towards its first consultation document for the Inquiry into Commonwealth laws that unreasonably encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges. We anticipate the release of an Issues Paper at the end of November. We will at that time call for submissions in response to the questions raised in the Paper.

In the meantime, the ALRC has established a  public wiki—a set of collaborative online documents that ALRC staff and external participants can contribute to—to create a catalogue of Commonwealth laws that encroach, justifiably or not, on traditional rights, freedoms and privileges.

We note that Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, is leading a separate AHRC consultation about how well Australian’s rights and freedoms are protected, Rights and Responsibilities 2014.

ALRC President wins legal accolades

In October, Professor Rosalind Croucher, President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, received two awards recognising her outstanding contribution to the legal profession and to shaping law and policy in Australia—The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2014, and the Gordon and Jackson Australian Women Lawyers Award (AWL Award). The AWL Award also recognises women who have provided long-term leadership and commitment in the support and advancement of women in the legal profession.

See ALRC media release  >>
See Women Lawyers NSW media release >>

Reform roundup

Family Violence – a National Legal Response

On 30 September the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a national data collection and reporting framework to improve the evidence base for action against family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.  The ALRC is happy to see this development, having recommended in Family Violence – A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114), that ‘a suitable federal agency gather and report data about federal offences in a family violence context’ (see in full Rec 8-1).

In October the Attorney-General gave new terms of reference to the Family Law Council to look at parenting disputes that raise issues that cut across the child care and protection and family law systems.  The FLC’s inquiry builds on a considerable body of earlier work, including in particular the ALRC and NSLWRC report, Family Violence – A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114). This inquiry sought  to respond to challenges for dealing with family violence in a federal system and the recommendations in the report will provide a significant input into aspects of the Family Law Council’s work.

The ALRC has observer status on the Family Law Council and looks forward to assisting the Council in their new project.

ALRC Annual Report 2014

The ALRC Annual Report was tabled in Parliament on 22 October and is now available on the ALRC website.

ALRC Annual Report 2014 >>

Legal internship program

In August 2014, the ALRC welcomed four interns who have been assisting the Freedoms and Native Title teams: Alison Whittaker  from the University of Technology Sydney; Amila Perera and Annett Haddad from the University of New South Wales; and Neha Kasbekar, from Sydney University. We’d like to thank all the interns for their contribution to the ALRC’s work.

The next round of interns will be here for over the summer holiday period. Applications close on 27 October 2014. For this full-time three week program the ALRC gives preference to interstate applicants and those attending institutions outside the Sydney metropolitan region.

The dates for 2015 intern applications and intakes will be published in the next ALRC Brief.