Sabina Wynn (SW): Hello I’m Sabina Wynn, the Executive Director of the Australian Law Reform Commission and I’m here today with three of our most recent interns. They’ve just completed a semester with us working on the Elder Abuse Inquiry. I’m going to ask Scott first, so what have you actually been working on while you’ve been here?
Scott Preswick (SP): So, I’ve been working on the Elder Abuse Inquiry as it relates to criminal law offences, so I’ve been assisting a Legal Officer with several research tasks throughout the semester which have ranged from more specific offences in various jurisdictions across Australia as well as drafting a first draft of recommendations that will be put in the Discussion Paper which is being finalised.
SW: Farah what about you, what have you been working on?
Farah Al Majed (FA): The area that I’ve been working on with my Principal Legal Officer is financial abuse of elders, so looking at Powers of Attorneys. I’ve been analysing the different legislation across the states and comparing domestic legislation to international legislation, as well as drafting the recommendations for the Discussion Paper.
SW: Great, and Tierneigh what about you?
Tierneigh Parnell (TP): One of the main things I’ve been working on is research into disclosure of sensitive information in health services area and under what circumstances this information can be disclosed.
SW: What do you think you’ve learnt while you’ve been here?
SP: I think I’ve definitely developed my research skills, so most of my role has been conducting research in various parts of the law, some specific and some general, and it’s also kind of developed my research skills beyond just NSW which through university is what I’ve been focused on, so I’ve really learnt a bit more about the laws across Australia which has been interesting and helpful, I think.
FA: Yeah I agree with Scott definitely on that and just, I guess, learning how the process of reform works in regards to the legislation and the protections we have currently for elders or that we don’t have. It is very interesting to look at how you analyse the law but in regards to reforming it rather than applying it to facts of cases which is what we do in university, so that was really interesting.
TP: Yes I agree, so research skills, the law reform process but also how the Law Reform Commission interacts with other agencies and individuals in order to formulate their ideas and policies, suggestions.
SW: I think most of you have attended consultations and workshops, how did you find doing that part of the internship?
SP: I attended a few meetings where the recommendations and proposals that were to be put in the Discussion Paper were discussed and I found it really beneficial and interesting to see how these proposals would be interrogated just within the Law Reform Commission itself and the ideas were really tested out and, you know, made sure that they were workable so that ultimately if the proposals were made in the Final Report they could be implemented. I thought that that was a really interesting aspect rather than just law and the ideas behind it as well as the practical implementation of how to kind of really counter elder abuse.
FA: With that, I’ve been to a bit of the workshops and consultations and I found interesting the overlap between the different areas and how the Legal Officers work together in a team as opposed to just individuals on how they could help each other with the recommendations they were making and the proposals and just building on it and ensuring that the whole Discussion Paper and eventually the Report would sort of flow out together instead of different parts all over the place, it was sort of a one team thing that each individual worked on as well, so that was interesting.
TP: In my time interning with the ALRC I’ve been able to attend two consultations and also the Advisory Committee working meeting and they were all really beneficial, I think, to my time and my learning experience. I think one of the things that I took from that was how important it is to get the advice and the knowledge of experts in the field so that you can better formulate your views and ideas and make a more rounded recommendation in the end.
SW: Great, and just lastly, would you recommend the internship to other students?
FA: I’m going to go with I already have actually. Throughout the semester I’ve told my friends who are really interested in policy based or social justice to have a look at the internship at the ALRC and definitely go and apply for it, so a lot of them are getting ready for that.
SP: I would definitely recommend people apply for the internship. I came into the internship not quite sure what to expect. I kind of have an interest in trying out commercial law as well so this is obviously very different to that and I think that, you know, exploring law reform and policy is a great thing to do while you’re still at university because it might be something you want to do later or it might just be something to develop your skills, so I think it has something to offer for everyone.
TP: I agree with that. I’d recommend it to anyone regardless of what field you think you’re going to go into or if you already know what field you’re going to go into. I think the Australian Law Reform Commission provides a great opportunity for students to develop their research skills and also just network, a good networking opportunity as well.
SW: Great, it’s been great having you all. Thanks very much.
All: Thank you.