Sabina Wynn (SW): Hello, I’m Sabina Wynn, Executive Director of the Australian Law Reform Commission and I’m here with four of our interns who’ve just completed a semester with us. They’ve been working on the Elder Abuse Inquiry and I’m just going to ask them to introduce themselves.
Michael Quach (MQ): Hi, my name is Michael, a final year law student at the University of NSW.
Will de Waal (WW): My name’s Will, I’m a final semester law student also at the University of NSW.
Angus Nicholas (AN): I’m Angus and also a final semester law student but at the University of Sydney.
Courtney Lor (CL): Hi I’m Courtney, I’m a final year law student at Macquarie University.
SW: So, if I could start with say you Michael, how’ve you found the internship at the ALRC?
MQ: I found the internship to be really eye-opening and also just a great opportunity to meet people and make some really good friends and to get some insight into the ways our laws are created.
WW: I think it’s provided the kinds of insights that you couldn’t get in any other internship. Law reform is a very unique and complex process and it’s something that we’ve really gained to appreciate over our time here.
AN: I think as a student it’s difficult to get a lot of experience in policy work and just to see the policy process, so from that perspective I thought the experience was really useful.
CL: Yeah, I completely agree. Another thing I’d add is that there is such a huge range of different research tasks that we’ve actually been asked to do so while the inquiry was focussed on elder abuse we actually got to research a whole range of public and private areas of law while we were here.
SW: That’s interesting. So maybe you could just say what sort of tasks you were given by the team.
AN: I think that we all kind of worked for slightly different members of the team, so we all got to do slightly different things. Me in particular I did a lot of work on equity and how equitable doctrines can protect or fail to protect elderly people.
CL: I did a whole range of things, so one of the first tasks that I was asked to do was looking at the duties of solicitors in relation to the drafting of enduring power of attorney documents and that progressed all the way through to looking at submissions from banking associations in relation to detecting elder abuse. So there was a huge range of work that I actually did. There wasn’t a particular focus.
WW: I did a range of legal and, sort of, more broad policy tasks as well. For example, I did some statutory interpretation and looking to see, for example, if there is a criminal law of negligence in NSW but then some much broader policy issues such as looking at how elder abuse is defined internationally and also how all the different states and territories in Australia have tried to address the issue.
MQ: My area of research was mostly with powers of attorney, guardianship and public advocate and that also allowed me to do some work in international comparisons and seeing how other jurisdictions tackle the idea of elder abuse.
SW: Well, that’s an incredible range of tasks, so I’m very impressed. I know that some of you came actually to the Advisory Committee meeting. I thought maybe you could just describe how you actually found that part of the ALRC’s process.
AN: I thought that that was really interesting because at the internship you work on the inquiry with all the people and the staff day in day out, whereas the Advisory Committee you got different perspectives from really respected people in not just the legal profession but also you had politicians and people from health backgrounds, so it was really interesting to see the different perspectives that go into policy, aside from just the legal perspective.
CL: Yeah, it really opens your eyes to how broad actually the process of law reform is, because as Angus said, we got to meet a former senator at the Advisory Committee meeting all the way through to really respected academics who are leaders in their fields and also a judge as well. So it showed us the input for law reform comes from pretty much every corner of the community and that was really a highlight for both of us I think during our time here.
SW: You’ve spoken of highlights what were some of the highlights do you think for yourself. Will, what was your highlight?
WW: I would say just generally being so included in the whole process. I think as interns sometimes you do feel a little bit out of the process but here at the Law Reform Commission you really are treated almost as legal officers really, so being able to be in on all of the consultations and getting to meet all the people, all the stakeholders that the Law Reform Commission is working with was definitely a highlight for me.
SW: Well thank you all, I know that you’ve really contributed to the inquiry. All our interns, all the work that you all do plays into our consultations documents and I’m sure you will find your work sitting somewhere in the final report and it’s been really great to have all of you. So, thanks very much.
MQ, WW, AN, CL: Thank you.