Appendix F: Implementation activity 2014–15

The following provides an overview of activity in relation to the implementation of ALRC reports during 2014–15.

Family Violence: A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114, 2010)

In April 2015, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to finalise the model law framework for a national domestic violence order scheme by the end of 2015. The working group responsible for the scheme will report through the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council to COAG. This initiative is consistent with ALRC recommendations for a national register (Recommendation 30–18).

In May 2015, the ACT Government announced that it was beginning consultation with the community about recommendations contained in ALRC Report 114, including investigation of how police-issued family violence orders could be adopted in the ACT, and how other ALRC recommendations should be addressed.

Finally, in June 2015, the Attorney-General and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women announced that work has commenced on a National Family Violence Bench Book in response to the recommendation in ALRC Report 114 (Recommendation 31–2).

Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws—Improving Legal Frameworks (ALRC Report 117, 2012)

The ALRC recommended that the inclusion of a model family violence term should be considered in the course of the first four-yearly review of modern awards by the Fair Work Commission (Recommendation 16–7). In December 2014, the Commission held that variations to awards in relation to ‘family and domestic violence leave’ should be dealt with as common issues as part of the review.

Classification—Content Regulation and Convergent Media (ALRC Report 118, 2012)

On 11 September 2014, the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Classification Tools and Other Measures) Act 2014 (Cth) was enacted.

In line with ALRC recommendations, the Act amended the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) to:

  • broaden the scope of existing exempt film categories and streamline exemption arrangements for festivals and cultural institutions (Recommendation 6–3);

  • enable certain content to be classified using classification tools (such as online questionnaires that deliver automated decisions) (Recommendation 7–8);

  • create an explicit requirement in the Act to display classification markings on all classified content (Recommendation 8–1);

  • expand the exceptions to the modifications rule so that films and computer games which are subject to certain types of modifications do not require classification again (Recommendation 8–2); and

  • enable the Attorney-General’s Department to notify law enforcement authorities of potential Refused Classification content without having the content classified first, to help expedite the removal of extremely offensive or illegal content from distribution (Recommendation 12–3).

Access All Ages—Older Workers and Commonwealth Laws (ALRC Report 120, 2013)

In November 2014, the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association of Australia and New Zealand announced an intention to develop an industry improvement statement aimed at countering mature age barriers to work.

This initiative responds to recommendations made in ALRC Report 120 concerning recruitment industry codes and the promotion of practice in the recruitment of mature age workers (Recommendations 4–3, 4–4).

Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era (ALRC Report 123, 2014)

In ALRC Report 123, the ALRC recommended that, if a statutory cause of action for serious invasion of privacy is not enacted, legislation should provide that, in an action for breach of confidence concerning a serious invasion of privacy by the misuse, publication or disclosure of private information, the court may award compensation for the plaintiff’s emotional distress (Recommendation 13–1).

While the ALRC recommended legislative reform, it recognised the possible trajectory of the common law in the same direction.

Subsequently, in January 2015, the Supreme Court of Western Australia, in Wilson v Ferguson [2015] WASC 15 (Mitchell J) found that the plaintiff in a case involving ‘revenge porn’ should be awarded equitable compensation ‘for the damage she has sustained in the form of significant embarrassment, anxiety and distress’. This case is an example of the way in which ALRC reports may influence the development of the common law.

The ALRC report was also mentioned in a recent English Court of Appeal decision in Google v Vidal-Hall [2015] EWCA Civ 311, where the Court discussed whether the English action for invasion of privacy should be classified as a tort. The Court concluded that misuse of private information should be recognised as a tort.