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News 2011

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December
08/12/2011
08/12/2011
Judicial Appointments for NSW [Small PDF icon 99kb]
Care Circles to keep Lismore Aboriginal children safe [Small PDF icon 94kb]
01/12/2011NSW Coroner Pool Safety Message [Small PDF icon 7kb]

November
21/11/2011Footy legend tackles domestic violence in the Hunter [Small PDF icon 204kb]
17/11/2011Longest serving judge in NSW retires [Small PDF icon 148kb]
17/11/2011Crackdown on criminals changing names [Small PDF icon 153kb]
15/11/2011Help for victims of crime in the spotlight [Small PDF icon 78kb]
10/11/2011Compensation to relatives in dust diseases cases [Small PDF icon 57kb]
09/11/2011Drug treatment prison, second Sydney drug court [Small PDF icon 236kb]
07/11/2011Volunteer Graffiti Removal Squads for NSW [Small PDF icon 98kb]
03/11/2011Commemorating 100 Years at Frank Baxter [Small PDF icon 244kb]

October
28/10/2011Call to support Central West victims of crime [Small PDF icon 79kb]
26/10/2011Bill Grant to return as head of Legal Aid [Small PDF icon 96kb]
25/10/2011Justice awards recognise work on Aboriginal rights [Small PDF icon 108kb]
21/10/2011NSW tribunals go under the microscope [Small PDF icon 97kb]
20/10/2011Community views sought on laws for child offenders [Small PDF icon 123kb]
19/10/2011Next stage in work health and safety reform [Small PDF icon 118kb]
19/10/2011NSW to be home for National Legal Board [Small PDF icon 105kb]

September
29/09/2011Clearer picture after Supreme renovations [Small PDF icon 33kb]
29/09/2011Senior counsel appointed a Supreme Court judge [Small PDF icon 29kb]
23/09/2011Sentencing Laws to be reviewed [Small PDF icon 107kb]
22/09/2011BOCSAR report: Correlates of violence against women
18/09/2011Good Will Week 2011 [Small PDF icon 83kb]
14/09/2011BOCSAR Report: Crime on the rail system
08/09/2011NSW Recorded Crime Statistics quarterly report (June 2011)
07/09/2011Working off fines scheme wins support [Small PDF icon 97kb]
06/09/2011Prisons to close [Small PDF icon 29kb]
06/09/2011NSW to expand court network and reduce recidivism [Small PDF icon 176kb]
02/09/2011Free NSW Legal Help Service Celebrates 10th Birthday [Small PDF icon 97kb]

August
31/08/2011New president of the Guardianship Tribunal [Small PDF icon 97kb]
31/08/2011NSW Government unveils legal services blueprint [Small PDF icon 206kb]
23/08/2011NSW Government to postpone pre-litigation reforms [Small PDF icon 95kb]
22/08/2011New Privacy Commissioner appointed [Small PDF icon 94kb]
12/08/2011NSW Government to speed up victims of crime payments [Small PDF icon 113kb]
11/08/2011Retirement age raised for prosecutors and public defenders [Small PDF icon 108kb]
11/08/2011BOCSAR report: Trends and patterns in domestic violence assaults
10/08/2011NSW gives support to R18+ game rating [Small PDF icon 70kb]
04/08/2011BOCSAR report: The profile of offenders receiving suspended sentences
03/08/2011New judge for the Supreme Court of NSW [Small PDF icon 93kb]

July
29/07/2011Architects appointed for Newcastle court development [Small PDF icon 99.6kb]
15/07/2011Attorney General supports justice awards [Small PDF icon 80kb]
15/07/2011Coroner reminds motorists about baby capsule safety [Small PDF icon 33kb]
13/07/2011Appeal over sentence for mutilation [Small PDF icon 92kb]
06/07/2011BOCSAR report: The changing nature of objects stolen in burglaries
01/07/2011Synthetic cannabis banned in NSW [Small PDF icon 75kb]
01/07/2011Council approves DA for new Armidale Court [Small PDF icon 22kb]
01/07/2011Nowra Court celebrates NAIDOC Week [Small PDF icon 32kb]

June
30/06/11Fines scheme a hand up, not a hand-out [Small PDF icon 196kb]
24/06/11NSW Drug Court Judge wins Prime Minister's Award [Small PDF icon 27kb]
24/06/11New Director of Public Prosecutions [Small PDF icon 117kb]
24/06/11Lead role for NSW on National Profession [Small PDF icon 124kb]
17/06/11Flooding affects court registries in northern NSW
16/06/11Flooding affects court registries in northern NSW
15/06/11Flooding affects court registry in northern NSW
14/06/11Flooding affects court registries in northern NSW
09/06/11NSW Government orders review of Bail Act [Small PDF icon 73kb]
02/06/11Free legal help in Nambucca Heads [Small PDF icon 202kb]
01/06/11

Tom Bathurst QC sworn in as Chief Justice [Small PDF icon 89kb]
May
31/05/11Tribute to Chief Justice Spigelman [Small PDF icon 88kb]
31/05/11You spray, you pay: NSW Government to get tough on graffiti vandals [Small PDF icon 194kb]
27/05/11Free legal help in Orange [Small PDF icon 203kb]
25/05/11Leading lawyer appointed a Supreme Court judge [Small PDF icon 95kb]
19/05/11Free legal help in Tenterfield [Small PDF icon 34kb]
19/05/11Free legal help in Bega [Small PDF icon 29kb]
19/05/11$4 million for stage one of Sydney court redevelopment [Small PDF icon 98kb]
18/05/11One-stop shop for victims of crime research
15/05/11Lawyers make a song and dance of Law Week [Small PDF icon 21kb]
13/05/11Young offenders clean up illegal graffiti [Small PDF icon 21kb]
13/05/11Attorney General hands out pardons [Small PDF icon 21kb]
13/05/11Calling all budding young artists: the Anti-Discrimination Board wants you [Small PDF icon 51kb]
13/05/11Tom Bathurst QC to be Chief Justice [Small PDF icon 236kb]
13/05/11Fairy tale trial demystifies law at Wollongong Court [Small PDF icon 36kb]
13/05/11Tamworth students warned about cyber bullying [Small PDF icon 31kb]
13/05/11Open day at Broken Hill Court [Small PDF icon 30kb]
13/05/11Getting to know the law in Western Sydney [Small PDF icon 34kb]
13/05/11Port Stephens students investigate cyber bullying [Small PDF icon 31kb]
12/05/11Schools rush to join Law Week sleuth challenge [Small PDF icon 206kb]
12/05/11Young people to explore the law in Newcastle [Small PDF icon 205kb]
12/05/11Ballina court unveils tribute to Magistrate Pogson [Small PDF icon 205kb]
04/05/11Corporate fault law reform to benefit NSW economy [Small PDF icon 143kb]
02/05/11Privacy Commissioner launches Privacy Awareness Week (1 – 7 May) [Small PDF icon 85kb]


April
27/04/11Sutherland Court reopens after largest renovation
19/04/11Long-term trends in property and violent crime in New South Wales: 1990-2010
19/04/11Report on trends in assaults after midnight
19/04/11NSW Recorded Crime Statistics 2010 annual report
18/04/11New online search tool revamps court lists in NSW courts [Small PDF icon 22kb]

March
29/03/11Law Reform Commission submissions invited for review of cheating at gambling
17/03/11Don't be a stranger on Neighbour Day [Small PDF icon 36kb]
02/03/11Submissions invited for review of Civil Procedure Act 2005



February
24/02/11BOCSAR Report: Liquor outlet density and assault
24/02/11BOCSAR Report: Supply of high-strength oxycodone across NSW
06/02/11BOCSAR report: Why does NSW have a higher imprisonment rate than Victoria?



January
21/01/11New Caselaw website makes it easier to check judgments online
19/01/11Flooding affects court sittings in western NSW (19 - 20 January)
14/01/11Surrogacy Act 2010 - Commercial surrogacy arrangements entered into overseas before 1 March 2011
14/01/11Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (14 January)
13/01/11Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (13 January)
12/01/11Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (12 January)
11/01/11Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (11 January)


Judicial Appointments for NSW [Small PDF icon 99kb]
Issued Thursday 8 December 2011.

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointments of a Judge of Appeal, two Supreme Court Judges and a Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court.

Justice Reginald Barrett has been elevated to the Court of Appeal, barristers Geoffrey Bellew SC and James Stevenson SC will join the bench of the Supreme Court, while architect Susan O’Neill will serve as a full time Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court.

Justice Barrett has sat on the bench of the Supreme Court for 10 years. Prior to taking public office, he worked as a solicitor for 34 years and attained the position of partner at Allen Allen & Hemsley and Mallesons Stephen Jaques.

“In private practice, Justice Barrett was one of Australia’s finest corporate and securities lawyers and his professional reputation has only been enhanced since he became a Judge of the Supreme Court,” Mr Smith said.

Justice Barrett will begin serving as a Judge of Appeal on 25 January 2012.

Geoffrey Bellew SC was admitted to the Bar in 1991 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2006. His practice has been divided between the criminal and civil jurisdictions.

“Mr Bellew has appeared on behalf of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in matters involving drug importation, revenue fraud, people smuggling and in a number of landmark terrorism cases,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Bellew is also a former Director of the National Rugby League Limited and has appeared on behalf of footballers, jockeys and Olympic athletes before disciplinary hearings as well as before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Mr Bellew will be sworn in as a Supreme Court Judge on 31 January 2012.

James Stevenson SC was called to the Bar in 1989 after working as a solicitor for 15 years. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 2003.

“Mr Stevenson has practised widely in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court and in the Federal Court,” Mr Smith said.

“He has also appeared at the Inquiry into the Glenbrook Train Disaster, at the Royal Commission into the collapse of HIH, at an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into Sydney Water and in subsequent litigation for Sydney Water.”

Mr Stevenson will be sworn in as a Supreme Court Judge on 1 February 2012.

Susan O’Neill has 21 years’ experience in architecture, working primarily as a heritage consultant. In recent years, she has been an associate at Godden Mackay Logan Heritage Consultants and has worked as Strategic Heritage Officer for Woollahra Municipal Council.

“The Land and Environment Court will benefit from Ms O’Neill’s significant expertise in the designing, planning and construction of buildings and her comprehensive understanding of heritage issues,” Mr Smith said.

Ms O’Neill will begin a seven-year term as a full-time Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court on 30 January 2012.


Care Circles to keep Lismore Aboriginal children safe [Small PDF icon 94kb]
Issued: Thursday 8 December 2011

The NSW Government is expanding a program that gives Aboriginal people greater input into decisions about the care of children at risk.

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, will today join the President of the Children’s Court, Judge Mark Marien SC, and Community Services Chief Executive, Anne Campbell, to launch the Care Circle program in Lismore.

“Conducted in an informal setting outside of court, Care Circles enable Aboriginal families and community leaders to meet with all parties involved in a case to develop a plan for the safety and wellbeing of the child,” Mr Smith said.

“This may include discussions about placement options, contact arrangements and the support services that should be made available to families,” he said.

Judge Marien said Care Circles provide a unique and important opportunity for considerations of Aboriginal culture and identity to be taken into account.

“Facilitated by a specialist Children’s Court magistrate, Care Circles encourage frank and open discussions and allow for increased participation in decision-making about Aboriginal children by Aboriginal families and communities,” Judge Marien said.

“Decisions made about the future of Aboriginal children in the setting of a Care Circle are therefore more likely to result in better outcomes for those children,” he said.

Ms Campbell said conventional care proceedings conducted in court can be intimidating, overwhelming and stressful for participants.

“Aboriginal families can sometimes feel vulnerable and alienated by court processes. Many families still live with the legacy of the Stolen Generations which can lead to fear and mistrust of government,” Ms Campbell said.

Ms Campbell said Care Circles were an important initiative for Aboriginal families in care matters.

“We want to empower Aboriginal families and communities by reducing the barriers that prevent Aboriginal people participating in care proceedings,” Ms Campbell said.

The Care Circles program began in Nowra in 2008 and is being expanded to Lismore following a positive independent evaluation.

“The Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia found higher levels of satisfaction and acceptance of decisions relating to the care of Aboriginal children,” Mr Smith said.

“Many Aboriginal families felt Care Circles provided opportunities for involvement in decision making that were not available in conventional court proceedings,” he said.

All plans developed in a Care Circle must be put before a magistrate for approval.




NSW State Coroners Pool Safety Message [Small PDF icon 7kb]
Issued: Thursday 01 December 2011

With summer upon us, the need for pool safety is vital as children take to the water to cool down.

I urge pool owners to undertake a safety inspection of their facilities and make sure pool fences and gates are secure and compliant with the law.

Many pool owners mistakenly assume a fence will keep out young children and don’t take into account such things as faulty locks, climbable objects near the pool fence or changes to the surface height of lawns or gardens over time.

Don’t become complacent about pool safety just because you have a fence. Small children can move much faster than you expect.

The most thorough pool safety inspection will never fully eliminate the chances of drowning or serious injury. Always keep an eye on children near a pool, close the pool gate and keep the fence maintained.

As NSW State Coroner, I witness all too regularly the terrible trauma families face when there is an avoidable and needless death of a child who has drowned in a backyard pool.

In 2010, 14 children drowned in New South Wales. Many of these drownings were in pools and avoidable.

Spend a little time to save a little life: check your pool fence and gate is secure and make sure you know where your toddlers are at all times.

1 December 2011

Footy legend tackles domestic violence in the Hunter [Small PDF icon 204kb]
Issued: Monday 21 November 2011

Former NRL star, Nathan Blacklock and domestic violence survivor, Lani Brennan have a message for Aboriginal people in the Hunter: Koori love shouldn’t hurt.

The two high profile campaigners against domestic violence will be guest speakers at a forum for Aboriginal community members and workers at Cameron Park on December 6.

The Aboriginal Community Justice Groups of Toronto and Newcastle are holding the forum as part of the annual 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women.

“We need to put an end to the silence surrounding violence in Aboriginal homes,” said Aboriginal Community Justice Group Coordinator, Anita Barker.

“Victims must be able to speak out without fear or shame and perpetrators need to take responsibility for their actions.”

Lani Brennan will provide the forum with a first hand account of the devastating impact of domestic violence and will explain how victims can escape the cycle of abuse.

“Lani is an inspiration to all victims of domestic violence – her quest for justice resulted in her former partner receiving a lengthy jail sentence and her story was recently the subject of an SBS documentary,” Ms Barker said.

Nathan Blacklock is an ambassador for the Tackling Violence program, an anti-domestic violence campaign initiated by the NSW Government in partnership with rugby league bodies.

“It is important to have strong male role models, such as Nathan, who can re-enforce the message that domestic violence has no place in our culture,” Ms Baker said.

Two men from the Hunter community who were past perpetrators of domestic violence will also share their stories about the changes they have made in their lives.

The forum, Koori Love Shouldn’t Hurt, will be held at 107 Northlakes Drive, Cameron Park on December 6 from 9:30am - 3:15pm.

For more information about White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism, visit: www.whiteribbon.org.au



Longest serving judge in NSW retires [Small PDF icon 148kb]
Issued: Thursday 17 November 2011

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today praised the State’s longest-serving judge, John O’Meally AM RFD, for his exceptional service to victims of asbestos-related diseases over 32 years on the bench.

Judge O’Meally will retire as the President of the Dust Diseases Tribunal today following a ceremonial sitting of the Tribunal at John Maddison Tower in Sydney’s CBD.

“Since hearing the Dust Diseases Tribunal’s first case in 1989, Judge O’Meally has determined the compensation claims of many people who contracted mesothelioma and other deadly dust-related conditions,” Mr Smith said.

“Prior to the creation of the Tribunal, sufferers of asbestos diseases frequently died before their case was heard, but urgent compensation claims are now routinely fast tracked,” he said.

Mr Smith said Judge O’Meally’s determination to finalise the compensation claim of social justice campaigner Bernie Banton prior to his death in 2007 was just one example of his dedication to his role.

“Judge O’Meally took evidence from a critically ill Mr Banton at his bedside and vowed to sit in court until 10pm on consecutive nights in order to reach a conclusion,” Mr Smith said.

It is not uncommon for a Tribunal judge to travel to a plaintiff’s bedside at a home, hospital or hospice to take evidence. The Tribunal will sit at any hour of the day or night on any day of the week.

Judge O’Meally has been President of the Dust Diseases Tribunal since 1998. During a legal career that has spanned almost half a century, he has also served as an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court and as a Judge of the Compensation Court of NSW, the Workers Compensation Commission of NSW, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda.

“Judge O’Meally was renowned for his fairness and compassion,’’ Mr Smith said. “I wish him well in his retirement and thank him for his significant contribution to the NSW justice system. ”

The retirement of Judge O’Meally coincides with the completion of new facilities for the Dust Diseases Tribunal at John Maddison Tower.

The Tribunal is now equipped with more advanced audio-visual facilities than any civil court in NSW. The technology will enable:

  • digital recording of witness testimony (including evidence given via videoconferencing from a remote location);
  • high definition displays of X-rays and MRI scans; and
  • lap top computers to be connected to the Tribunal’s audio-visual system to display electronic evidence.
“Judges, witnesses and legal representatives will be able to view exhibits simultaneously on the large monitors within each court, which will save time and lead to smoother hearings,” Mr Smith said.

Infra-red hearing aid technology has been installed in all of the Tribunal’s courtrooms. Three courtrooms also feature an oversized witness box to enable two expert witnesses to take the stand at the same time to discuss evidence and narrow issues in dispute.

The development of a new headquarters for the Dust Diseases Tribunal is part of a redevelopment of John Maddison Tower and the Downing Centre that is expected to cost a total of $26.5 million over five years.



Crackdown on criminals changing names [Small PDF icon 153kb]
Issued: Thursday 17 November 2011

The NSW Government is leading the way in a national crackdown on criminals changing their names to avoid detection, which will include an alert list for high-risk offenders.

The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said he hoped State and Territory Ministers would to agree to a 10-point plan developed by NSW when they gather in Launceston today ahead of a meeting of the Standing Council on Law and Justice.

Mr Smith said NSW was asked to report on ways of ensuring all jurisdictions had robust laws and processes in place, so there was no weak link that could be exploited by criminals and name-change information could be obtained in a timely manner.

There will also be a National Proof of Identity Framework and an electronic document verification system so registries that look after births deaths and marriages (BDMs) can verify people’s identity, and that they are not using illegal documents.

“Unfortunately some people change their name to conceal a criminal record, avoid detection by police, facilitate the commission of a crime or to simply create multiple identities,’’ Mr Smith said.

“This abuse of the system is a risk to the safety of the community and the police.

“The danger is heightened when you are talking about those convicted of serious crimes, such as pedophiles, moving interstate to escape detection and unleash their misery on unfortunate victims.”

Mr Smith said that under the strategy;

- All serious sex offenders must obtain approval before changing their name;
- Police will be asked to provide an alert list for high-risk individuals to BDMs;
- Prisoners and parolees will have to obtain approval and their supervising authorities will notify BDMs of the change; and
- People can only change their name three times in a lifetime.

The Attorneys General are gathering in Launceston today, where there will be discussion between the State Attorneys General ahead of the Council meeting on Friday.
Mr Smith said NSW already had most of the 10-point plan in place and was looking to implement two parts of the new framework – the alert list for high-risk individuals and the requirement for prisoners to obtain approval.

“Inconsistencies between jurisdictions allow people to forum shop and find the place with the weakest safeguards,’’ Mr Smith said.

“This heightens the need for harmonisation in this area and these changes should go a long way to eliminating abuses of the system.”



Help for victims of crime in the spotlight [Small PDF icon 78kb]
Issued: Tuesday 15 November 2011

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today launched a new resource to help victims of crime cope with being in the spotlight in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

The Guide to the Media for Victims of Crime was developed in consultation with victims of crime, support groups, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and media representatives.

“The guide provides victims with practical information about the benefits and risks of publicly discussing their case so they can make informed decisions about how they interact with the media,” Mr Smith said.

“The media gives victims of crime a voice in the community and can be extremely effective in helping them campaign for legal and policy reform, however some victims can be overwhelmed by the sudden attention.”

Mr Smith was joined at the launch today by Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Cotter of the NSW Police, Mary Cusumano (widow of murdered computer shop owner Angelo Cusumano), Homicide Victims Support Group executive director Martha Jabour and broadcaster Ray Hadley OAM.

Ms Jabour told Mr Hadley there had been a lack of material to explain media processes to victims of crime.

“People are often extremely vulnerable after a crime has been committed against them and intense public scrutiny can be confusing, intimidating and detrimental to their recovery if they are unprepared for the experience,” Ms Jabour said.

“This resource offers victims of crime useful information about their rights, privacy issues and who they can contact if they need support or wish to make a complaint.”

A new contact card for the media is also available, which contains details of victims’ support groups and counselling services. The card will assist media in directing victims to relevant support services.

The resources are part of the Respectful Reporting: Victims of Violent Crime Media Strategy, which has been developed by the Victims Services unit of the Department of Attorney General and Justice.

“The strategy focuses on working with the media to support victims of crime and minimise the potential for any additional trauma,” Mr Smith said.

Mary Cusumano said she suffered as a result of invasive and disrespectful media attention when her husband was killed in 1995.

“Shortly after my husband was killed, a photographer caused me great distress by jumping over my fence to take a photo of me inside my house with my young children,” Mrs Cusumano said.

“Since then, I have had mostly positive experiences with the media. It was the courteous and empathetic journalists who ended up with the best stories, because they had earned my trust.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Cotter said police worked closely with victims and could help ensure their voices were heard.

Mr Smith said the respectful reporting strategy could be adopted nationwide, with the issue now on the agenda of the National Justice CEOs Group.

“Guidelines for reporting on victims of crime could be incorporated into media codes of ethics, taught at universities and utilised in the training of cadet reporters,” he said.

The guide is also available at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/vs

View the launch of the Guide to Media for Victims of Crime (link opens in new window).


Compensation to relatives in dust diseases cases [Small PDF icon 57kb]
Issued: Thursday 10 November 2011

The Attorney General has tabled the Law Reform Commission’s report on compensation to relatives in dust diseases cases. The Government is currently considering the report.

The Report makes recommendations to achieve fairness for the families of deceased dust diseases victims who may be disadvantaged by the existing law when the victims die before completing their actions for damages.

As a result of a reform passed in 1998, the estate of a person whose death was caused by a dust disease can recover damages for non-economic loss in relation to the pain and suffering and loss of expectation of life provided the victim had commenced proceedings before dying.

However, as a result of earlier High Court authority confirmed in the Strikwerda case, such damages must normally be deducted when the damages are calculated in an action by the victim’s dependants under the Compensation to Relatives Act for their loss of support arising from the death. The principal reform recommended in this Report is to remove that requirement.

“This will put these dependants in an equivalent position to the dependants of a victim who was able to complete a claim for non-economic loss damages in his or her lifetime and as a consequence was in a position to pass them to his dependants,” said chairperson of the Commission, the Hon James Wood AO QC.

“The Commission does not expect that abolishing the principle will generate any significant increase in the filing of compensation to relatives claims in the Dust Diseases Tribunal, but it will provide a fairer result for the few families affected,” Mr Wood said.

Some dust diseases victims face difficulties in commencing or completing their claims before dying because of the sometimes rapid progression after diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and as a consequence their dependants may not be able to receive the benefit of the damages for non-economic loss, which in mesothelioma cases can amount to $200,000 - $300,000.

The application of the current law is most likely to affect the dependant families of dust diseases victims who are not entitled to statutory workers’ compensation death benefits, such as DIY renovators, children who play with asbestos and spouses who washed work clothes of asbestos workers. In most other cases the dust disease benefits provide sufficient compensation for a worker’s dependants such that they rarely bring a dependant’s claim under the Compensation to Relatives Act.

Having considered the practical difficulties for litigants arising from the often swift progression of asbestos-related diseases between diagnosis and death, the Commission has made a second recommendation that would permit the recovery of damages for non-economic loss by the estate of a deceased dust diseases victim so long as proceedings are commenced no later than 12 months after the victim's death. This will replace the current rule that only permits the estate to recover such damages where the victim had commenced an action in the Dust Diseases Tribunal for damages during his or her lifetime.

The NSW Law Reform Commission has been proposing changes to the State’s laws since 1966 as the first permanent law reform agency established in Australia. The Chairperson is James Wood AO QC, who is also the lead Commissioner for this reference.

The report is published on the Law Reform Commission’s website www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc



Drug treatment prison, second Sydney drug court [Small PDF icon 236kb]
Issued: Wednesday 9 November 2011

The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has announced the Government will deliver on an election commitment to set up a second Drug Court in Sydney and establish 300 beds for the treatment of drug-addicted prisoners.

Mr Smith said the John Morony Correctional Complex at Berkshire Park, in Sydney’s north-west, would run the rehabilitation program – to be rolled out in stages from next February.

He added that a second metropolitan Drug Court initially would sit at the Downing Centre one day per week and involve 40 participants per year.

Mr Smith said both facilities were important steps in the Government’s commitment to reduce recidivism through meaningful rehabilitation.

“The Government will be tackling the underlying causes of crime and it is sad fact that many offenders are led into a life of crime because of their addiction to drugs or alcohol.

“There can be no doubt that prisoners are less likely to reoffend if they leave prison free of drug dependency,’’ Mr Smith said.

Corrective services data indicates that on any given day, more than 4500 inmates with a medium to high risk of reoffending need some intervention to address alcohol and other drug-related needs. Of these more than 1000 have severe problems which require intensive intervention.

Of the 15,000 people received into custody in 2007-08 in NSW, almost 60 per cent were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they committed their most serious offence; 71 per cent had committed drug-related crimes (including alcohol); 54 per cent had a history of injecting drug use; and 36 per cent were injecting drugs around the time of their offence.

“Unfortunately, I am advised that there should be no difficulties in identifying suitable candidates for participation in the program,’’ Mr Smith said.

The Attorney General said the 300-bed Metropolitan Drug Treatment Facility at the John Morony Correctional Centre (JMCC), would offer an Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (IDATP) for male and female inmates

The first phase will involve a 62-bed unit for male inmates at John Morony, to open in February 2012. Further units will open in July 2012 and then in July 2013. The unit at Dilwynnia Correctional Centre for women will open in July 2014.

Once fully implemented, there will be 250 beds for male inmates at JMCC and 50 beds at Dillwynia. The male unit will include a 10-bed non-compliance unit to accommodate those inmates displaying anti-social behaviour or non-participation in programs

Eligible offenders will be sentenced inmates with a documented history of problematic drug and/or alcohol use, with a minimum non-parole period of six months still to serve and a minimum or medium security classification.

Male offenders convicted of sex offences will be excluded as they have specialised programs available to them as sex offenders. Inmates will also be excluded if they have non-association alerts with other inmates already undertaking the IDATP.

The second metropolitan Drug Court will be operational from next May and complement existing Drug Courts at Parramatta and Toronto.

In addition, there will be a urine test facility, registry support and a collaborative workspace for the different agencies involved – the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Police, Legal Aid and Corrective Services.

Mr Smith said the Drug Court, led by Senior Judge Roger Dive, had turned many lives around.

“Many of the participants would be in jail, were it not for Judge Dive and his team’s extraordinary efforts to address the causes of their offending and drug abuse, such as psychological problems, family dysfunction and inadequate education.”

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found the Drug Court is more cost-effective than prison in reducing the rate of re-offending among offenders who had committed drug-related crime. Its 2008 study also found offenders who completed the program were 37 per cent less likely to be convicted of an offence than offenders who did not enter the Drug Court.

The positive outcomes at the Parramatta Drug Court since 2000 led to the opening of a second Drug Court at Toronto in March to service the Hunter region.



Volunteer Graffiti Removal Squads for NSW [Small PDF icon 98kb]
Issued: Monday 7 November 2011

The NSW Government will team up with Rotary Clubs and Dulux Paint to establish volunteer graffiti removal squads across the state, under a plan announced today by Attorney General Greg Smith SC.

“This is an opportunity for people who have felt powerless against the scourge of graffiti to unite and restore pride in their community,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith today met with representatives of Turramurra Rotary, who formed a volunteer graffiti squad in 2008, and Dulux, which provides free paint and materials to the squad.

“With the support of Ku-ring-gai Council and local businesses, the Turramurra Rotary squad has cleaned more than 3,000 square metres of graffiti in their area,” Mr Smith said.

“This success story can be replicated in other parts of the state with an identified graffiti problem and the NSW Government is encouraging local councils and businesses to form similar partnerships with Rotary to combat graffiti,” he said.

With funding from the Department of Attorney General and Justice, Rotary Turramurra will help other Rotary Clubs in NSW establish volunteer graffiti removal squads in their area. Dulux Paint will support the expansion of the program.

The team leader of the Turramurra Rotary Graffiti Removal Project, Roger Norman said there has been a groundswell of support for community-driven graffiti removal.

“Over the past three years, the Rotary Club has helped establish graffiti removal squads at eight locations in Sydney and on the Central Coast and many other Rotary Clubs have expressed interest in the program,” Mr Norman said.

“There are many more law abiding citizens than there are vandals and we can prevail over the destructive minority,” he said.

The proprietor of Turramurra Hardware, Don Wormald, who has raised awareness about the local graffiti removal squad and organised sponsorship to ensure its viability, applauded the expansion of the project.

“This is a major step in the fight against graffiti,” Mr Wormald said.

Dulux Australia General Manager Patrick Jones said Dulux was proud to be supporting Rotary and local communities in restoring public spaces.

“We know that graffiti has a negative impact on how people feel about a place and it’s great to see local communities taking the initiative to clean up and improve the look of areas in which they live, work and play,” Mr Jones said.

Almost anyone can become involved in a Rotary volunteer graffiti removal program in their local area.




Commemorating 100 years at Frank Baxter [Small PDF icon 244kb]
NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, will today join locals and former staff at the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre to mark the centenary of the site, which was opened in 1911.

The original centre was run as a barracks-style institution with an emphasis on physical drills, training in habits of industry and useful trades, as well as sport.

“The original residents, around 70 boys, helped to construct the barracks. No doubt the living conditions were basic but surely better than their previous accommodation on the school ships, which were being used as training schools for juvenile male offenders,” Mr Smith said.

“Over the 100 years young men and boys have been sent to this site many positive changes have occurred,” he said.

The Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre, which was opened in 1999, is the largest juvenile justice centre in the state, with the capacity for 120 young people, and accommodates males aged 16 to 21 years, mostly on control orders.

“The young people who now reside in this centre live in a humane and safe place where they can have access to education, health care, case management with dedicated staff, specialised counselling, and training in job and living skills.

“We want young people to come out of the system with a better chance of fitting back into their community and staying on track.

“I’m sure the site has different meanings to the boys and young men who have been sent there over its hundred year history. Today is about acknowledging them and the staff who worked with them over all those years,” Mr Smith said.

Call to support Central West victims of crime [Small PDF icon 79kb]
Issued: Friday 28 October 2011

NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC is urging qualified counsellors in the Central West to get involved in a scheme that helps victims of violent crime in their recovery.

“Victims of violent crime can seek free counselling through the NSW Government’s Approved Counselling Scheme, but currently there are very few counsellors involved in the scheme in the State’s Central West,” said Mr Smith.

A forum will be held in Forbes next month to provide Central West professionals with practical information about how they can participate.

“The scheme is looking to attract qualified local counsellors - including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists - who have at least two years post-admission experience,” Mr Smith said.

“They must also be registered with an appropriate professional body and have some experience working with victims of crime.”

The Department of Attorney General and Justice’s Victims Services and BinaalBilla Family Violence Prevention Legal Service (BBFVPLS) will host the forum.

BBFVPLS program coordinator, Karen O’Malley said access to a local counsellor was crucial to some victims of crime.

“Victims of crime who are reluctant to travel could go without face-to-face counselling unless we can attract more professionals to provide the service in the Central West,’ Ms O’Malley said.

The forum will also provide counsellors with an opportunity for professional development, with an afternoon workshop to address issues surrounding working with children exposed to domestic violence. Biijana Milosevic, a children’s worker from the Jannawi Family Centre, will conduct the workshop.

The forum will be held at the Jemalong Regional Education Centre, 40-70 Church St, Forbes on 14 November 2011 from 10:30am–4pm.

Professionals interested in attending should contact Karen O’Malley, Program Coordinator, BBFVPLS, 18 Spring St, Forbes. (02) 6850 1234 or Karen@binaalbilla.com.au



Bill Grant to return as head of Legal Aid [Small PDF icon 96kb]
Issued: Wednesday 26 October 2011

The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Bill Grant OAM as Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW.

“I am delighted Mr Grant has agreed to return to the position of CEO of Legal Aid, after a four-year absence from the organisation,” Mr Smith said.

“Legal Aid’s service delivery thrived while Mr Grant was at the helm, resulting in him being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community and to the law.”

Mr Smith said he had become concerned that Legal Aid was straying from its core work of improving access to justice for those who cannot afford legal representation.

“I am confident Mr Grant will return the organisation’s focus to providing services for those most in need,’’ he said.

Mr Grant served as head of Legal Aid from 2001 to 2007. During that period, he also established a Legal Aid Human Rights Committee and a specialist unit to assist disadvantaged people involved in coronial inquests.

For the past four years, Mr Grant has been the Secretary-General of the Law Council of Australia – a body representing more than 50,000 legal practitioners.

Mr Grant graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws in 1975. He began his career at the Crown Solicitor’s Office, where he worked in the prosecuting, constitutional law and special litigation branches.

He worked at the Attorney General’s Department between 1988 and 2001, reaching the position of Deputy Director General. In that period, he chaired the Victims Advisory Board and was a member of the NSW Privacy Committee and the NSW Legal Practitioners Board.

Mr Grant has also served as Acting Commissioner of the Health Care Complaints Commission.



Justice awards recognise work on Aboriginal rights [Small PDF icon 108kb]

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has congratulated Aboriginal rights campaigner John McKenzie for being awarded the 2011 Justice Medal tonight.

Mr McKenzie, who was a principal solicitor to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1987, has worked tirelessly over the past 30 years to ensure that Aboriginal people have access to proper legal representation.

Former High Court Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason presented Mr McKenzie with the highest honour of the annual Law and Justice Foundation awards, held at NSW Parliament House.

“Where many others have fought and then moved on, John remains dedicated and passionate to law reform, and he retains a fresh, innovative approach to legal service delivery,’’ Sir Anthony said.

The Attorney General presented the 2011 Aboriginal Justice Award to Ms Jan Fennell for her work as a liaison officer with NSW Police in Menindee, a remote rural town in the State’s far west.

Mr Smith said the community was challenged by issues such as truancy, anti-social behaviour, crime, and alcohol.

“Jan has been instrumental in running projects to bring the community and police together, and fostered a healthy relationship between them so that together, they can tackle the many issues their community faces,” Mr Smith said.
The night’s other major award, the Pro Bono Partnership Award, went to a partnership between Women's Legal Services NSW, law firms Blake Dawson, Clayton Utz and Freehills, the NSW Bar Association and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for increasing access to justice for victims of sexual assault.

For the list of nominees and winners go to www.lawfoundation.net.au/justice_awards



NSW tribunals to go under the microscope [Small PDF icon 97kb]
Issued: Friday 21 October 2011

Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce, Attorney General Greg Smith SC, and Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today said NSW would look at options to reform the number of Tribunals in NSW, including opportunities for consolidation.

Attorney General, Greg Smith SC said the matter had been referred to a Parliamentary Committee who would consider a range of options and report back to Government early in the new year.

“The number of Tribunals in NSW had made dispute resolution in NSW complex for residents and created inefficiency and duplication across Government,” Mr Smith said.

“In 2002, the Ombudsman and Police Integrity Commission recommended that Tribunals in NSW be consolidated, but since this time only minor changes have occurred,” he said.

“The NSW Government is committed to quicker, cheaper and more effective Tribunals and today’s announcement is the next step in making that happen.

The Law and Justice Committee has been tasked with:
    • Considering opportunities to consolidate Tribunals;
    • Reviewing current Tribunal workloads including the Industrial Relations Commission, Administrative Decisions Tribunal and health disciplinary Tribunals;
    • Reviewing the operation of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal; and
    • Considering any consequential changes that may arise.
Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce said the inquiry would look at whether a single point of contact for all Tribunal related dispute resolution functions could be of benefit, especially for NSW regional residents.

“We are determined to make any dealings with the NSW Government easier and seamless, including in matters of dispute resolution,” Mr Pearce said.

“Options for a more consolidated approach has the potential to increase decision-making quality and achieve efficiencies across Government,” he said.

“With significant changes in the jurisdiction of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, including the introduction of the Fair Work Act and the National Occupational Health and Safety system, opportunities already exist to allow the IRC to hear other matters.

“It makes sense that we use the resources we have more effectively and create simpler services for NSW residents to use.

“This approach is tried and tested and has been operating in Victoria for some years,” Mr Pearce said.

Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts said a number of opportunities existed to improve Fair Trading’s framework for resolving disputes between tenants, landlords, traders and consumers.

“The Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal is used by tens of thousands of NSW residents every year.

“This inquiry provides an opportunity to determine if or whether we can make any improvements,” Mr Roberts said.



Community views sought on laws for child offenders [Small PDF icon 123kb]
Issued: Thursday 20 October 2011

NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC has invited public comment on whether changes are needed to key laws for juvenile offenders.

Mr Smith today released a consultation paper that forms part of a review of the Young Offenders Act 1997 and the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987.

“The review will determine whether the laws are effective and consistent with the NSW Government’s commitment to reducing recidivism among young offenders,” Mr Smith said.

“It is also important that the laws are in line with community standards and I encourage members of the public, including victims of crime, to have their say.”

The issued raised include whether:
  • any changes are needed to the laws governing the issuing of warnings and cautions and the directing of young offenders into youth conferencing;
  • the Children’s Court should be responsible for hearing all traffic matters involving juvenile defendants (currently young people must face the Local Court if they were old enough to legally drive at the time of the incident);
  • the Young Offenders Act and the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act should be amalgamated.

“The consultation paper gives the community the facts about youth offending and the law so that it can make up its own mind about the issues raised,” Mr Smith said.

The Young Offenders Act enables children who commit certain offences to be dealt with outside of court through the use of warnings, cautions and youth justice conferences. The Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act governs the age of criminal responsibility, the jurisdiction of the Children’s Court and the penalties that apply to children for criminal offences.

The Department of Attorney General and Justice is conducting the review, with assistance from legal groups, criminologists, experts in young offending and advocates for victims of crime and people with a disability.

The consultation paper is available at: www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lpd. Submissions can be sent to lpd_enquiries@agd.nsw.gov.au and must be made by 9 December 2011.


Next stage in work health and safety reform [Small PDF icon 118kb]
Issued: Wednesday 19 October 2011

Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce and Attorney General Greg Smith SC today said NSW had taken the next step towards delivering on its commitment to national Work Health and Safety laws.

Mr Smith said the next stage of harmonising WHS laws involved transitioning work health and safety prosecutions from the Industrial Court to the District Court and Local Court.

“The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 was enacted in June this year and as promised was delivered within the first 100 days of this government,” Mr Smith said.

“The new laws will start on 1 January 2012 and ensure that this state:
  • maintains its strong work, health and safety framework;
  • keeps businesses accountable;
  • reduces red tape for employers; and
  • simplifies the laws for both employers and workers.

“One of the main changes under the new legislation will be that most work health and safety prosecutions will be heard in the District Court instead of the Industrial Court,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Pearce said the transition from the Industrial Court to the District Court had been an important issue and one where the NSW Government wanted to provide certainty to affected parties.

“All Occupational Health & Safety matters currently before the Industrial Court, and all matters filed before 31 December 2011 are to remain with the Industrial Court,” Mr Pearce said.

“The only exception will be where the alleged offence was committed after 7 June 2011,” he said.

“It is estimated that about 200 Occupational Health & Safety Act prosecutions will be underway in the Industrial Court when the new laws come into effect.

“This announcement today means clarity for cases already underway.

“Allowing cases already in the Industrial Court to remain there until they are completed will save costs and is a win-win for all parties.

A Bill will also be introduced into Parliament, making amendments to industry-specific laws which deal with workplace health and safety, such as the mine and rail safety schemes.

“This Bill will ensure these industry specific schemes are consistent with the nationally agreed WHS regime,” Mr Pearce said.

“Our Government remains committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for every NSW worker.

“These laws are long overdue, and will finally deliver the certainty and protection all local workers and local businesses deserve,” Mr Pearce said.


NSW to be home for National Legal Board [Small PDF icon 105kb]
Issued: Wednesday 19 October 2011

The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has welcomed the announcement that NSW will be the home for the new National Legal Services Board and National Legal Services Commissioner.

NSW won a ballot to host the new national regulators, that will play the key role in reforms to the legal profession – a sector which generates around $13 billion of income a year.

“NSW will ensure that the Board is established on time, within budget and in premises that befits its role as the peak national regulator and the face of the Australian profession internationally,’’ Mr Smith said.

NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory – are taking part in the reforms, covering around 85 per cent of Australia’s practising lawyers.

There will be the same practice rules – and entry requirements – for all lawyers and a new complaint-handling process that will benefit consumers. This system will be overseen by the new national regulators, with the Board also developing the uniform national rules.

Mr Smith said NSW had a wealth of experience in regulating Australia’s largest and most diverse legal services sector, which comprises more than 40 per cent of Australian legal practitioners.

“NSW has been a driving force behind national reforms to the legal profession over the past decade, but there has been a lot of collaboration with other states – and in particular Victoria,’’ Mr Smith said.

“We hope to provide sound leadership and an inclusive approach that will benefit all the nation’s lawyers – and legal consumers.”


Clearer picture after Supreme renovations [Small PDF icon 33kb]
Issued: Thursday 29 September 2011

The evidence will be clearer in the NSW Supreme Court, following the arrival of high definition video technology in selected courtrooms at the Law Courts Building in Sydney’s CBD.

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said he was impressed with the latest improvements in a visit to the court today.

“All 10 courtrooms on levels 8 and 11 have received a technology upgrade as part of the renovations, and most are now equipped with high-definition cameras and 60-inch LCD monitors,” Mr Smith said.

“The technology is capable of delivering crystal-clear pictures and superior sound and will improve the transmission quality of recorded evidence and witness testimony via audio-visual links.

“This is the first time that high-definition technology has been installed in a NSW court and it will set a benchmark for future court upgrades.”
Levels 8 and 11 have also been made more accessible to people with a disability.

“People using a wheelchair will now be able sit on a jury in defamation hearings at Queens Square, following the installation of ramps and a fully accessible jury box and deliberation room,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said the improvements were part of the ongoing renovation of the Law Courts Building.

“Twenty-four of the 32 courtrooms occupied by the Supreme Court in the building at Queens Square have been refurbished from floor-to-ceiling and will be the envy of judges in other jurisdictions,” Mr Smith said.

“Nine of the courtrooms are now E-Court compatible, which will enable practitioners at the bar table to access real-time transcripts of proceedings on their lap top computers.”

Mr Smith noted that many of the previously windowless courtrooms were now filled with natural light.

“The courtrooms have been redesigned to create a more welcoming atmosphere in keeping with the NSW Government’s philosophy that the judicial system should be open and accessible,” Mr Smith said.

Other areas to be refurbished include interview rooms for the legal profession, judge’s chambers and public amenities.

Work will begin in October on the refurbishment of levels 10 and 13 of the Law Courts Building. All 10 floors occupied by the Supreme Court are being refurbished at a cost of $94 million, with the project due for completion in 2013/14.

“To minimise disruption to the Supreme Court, the renovations are being conducted two floors at a time with most of the work being done outside of sitting hours, including at night and on weekends,”’ Mr Smith said.

The 23-floor Law Courts Building accommodates 50 Commonwealth and State courtrooms. The NSW and Federal Governments are jointly funding the refurbishment of the building. The project also includes new air conditioning, electrical and fire safety systems, new windows and frames and substantial improvements to the building’s lift network.


Senior counsel appointed a Supreme Court judge [Small PDF icon 29kb]
Issued: Thursday 29 September 2011

Christine Adamson SC has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

“Ms Adamson is an experienced and highly regarded barrister, who richly deserves her elevation to the bench of the Supreme Court,” Mr Smith said.

Ms Adamson has most recently served as counsel assisting the Special Commission of Inquiry into the NSW Electricity Transactions.

In 2010, Ms Adamson appeared as counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption for the inquiries into former Labor MPs Karyn Paluzzano and Angela D’Amore and members of their staff.

Ms Adamson has also appeared on behalf of the NSW Bar Association in a range of disciplinary matters against barristers, including the former judge Marcus Einfeld and the former Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Patrick Power.

Ms Adamson studied law at the University of Adelaide, graduating with first-class honours in 1985.

She has worked for the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department in Canberra and the Australian Government Solicitor in Sydney.

Ms Adamson was admitted as a barrister in 1989 and appointed a Senior Counsel in 2003. She has appeared regularly in the NSW Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Federal Court.

Her areas of practice have included administrative law, statutory interpretation, commercial, property and common law, professional indemnity, trade practices and compulsory acquisition - frequently in appellate courts.

Since 2006, she has also served as the Chair of the Council of Law Reporting, which is responsible for publishing the NSW Law Reports.

Ms Adamson will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on October 17.


Sentencing Laws to be reviewed [Small PDF icon 107kb]
Issued date: Friday 23 September 2011

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the NSW Law Reform Commission would examine sentencing laws to ensure courts have adequate options when dealing with offenders.
Mr Smith said he also wanted the Commission to look at ways that decisions could be better explained.

“This announcement reflects the Government’s election commitment to review sentencing legislation,” Mr Smith said.

“I have asked the Commission to review the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 and, in particular, to look at simplifying the law and providing a consistent and transparent framework for sentencing decisions.

“We need to encourage the use of more non-custodial and community-based sentences as a viable alternative to full-time incarceration for less serious offences,” Mr Smith said.

The Government is committed to investing money and resources in diversionary programs and breaking a cycle in which more than 40 per cent of all NSW criminals reoffend after leaving prison.

The Attorney General has asked the Law Reform Commission to consult closely with the Sentencing Council.

“The Sentencing Council has considerable knowledge and experience in sentencing laws, and I want to make sure the Law Reform Commission takes full advantage of its expertise,” Mr Smith said.

The Review will be led by the Chairperson of the Law Reform Commission, the Hon James Wood AO QC, who is also deputy Chairperson of the Sentencing Council.

The Commission has been asked to report by the end of October 2012. The Commission will undertake extensive consultation in the course of developing its recommendations. More information and the terms of reference are available from www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc


Good Will Week 2011: do you have the will for a long and happy life? [Small PDF icon 83kb]
Issued: Sunday 18 September 2011

NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, together with the NSW Trustee & Guardian today urged people across the state to take advantage of events being held during Good Will Week 2011 and ensure they have an up-to-date Will.

“The theme of this year’s community education campaign is ‘A Will for a long and happy life’ to recognise while we are living longer than ever, the inevitable will happen, and we all need to make sure we have a legally valid Will in place,” Mr Smith said.

The good news is that almost 40 per cent of the 20,000 older Australians surveyed for Good Will Week consider themselves happy or optimistic, while the same amount say they are “generally fulfilled” about life and only 2.4 per cent said they were generally pessimistic.

The top tip they would give to younger people to help them live a longer and happier life was “to have family or friends nearby” followed by having “meaningful work” or “doing what you love”, and then “keeping your brain active”.

“To discover older Australians really enjoy themselves and feel pretty contented with their lives is a positive thing for all of us,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith added there should be no barriers to making a Will as there is no cost to write a Will with NSW Trustee & Guardian as executor. Charges apply on estate administration only.

“You can write a Will at 18 and continue to update it at no charge throughout your life as many times as you need – such as when relationships change, when you buy a house, have children, start a business and so on,” Mr Smith said.

For more information about Good Will Week, or to register for events, please visit www.goodwillweek.com.au. Eighteen branches of the NSW Trustee & Guardian will be open for a Wills Day on Saturday, 24 September 2011. Appointments are free and bookings for the Wills Day can be made by calling 1300 14 24 34.

Good Will Week runs from 18 September – 24 September 2011.


Working off fines scheme wins support [Small PDF icon 97kb]
Issued: Wednesday 7 September 2011

A program that enables severely disadvantaged people to work off their fines had been expanded and made permanent, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

The Fines Amendment (Work and Development Orders) Bill 2011 was given unanimous support as it passed through both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.

“Work Development Orders (WDOs) give the homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable people the chance to clear their fine debts by engaging in unpaid work or educational and therapeutic programs,” Mr Smith said.

A two-year pilot program found one in five participants did not incur further court fines or penalty notices that were referred to the State Debt Recovery Office.

Mr Smith said the program would now be open to people with serious addictions to alcohol, illicit drugs and other volatile substances.

“Drug and alcohol abuse are often closely linked to criminal behaviour and helping people overcome their addictions will have major benefits to the community,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith praised not-for-profit organisations, including St Vincent de Paul, Mission Australia, Catholic Care, Youth Off The Streets and the Schizophrenia Fellowship for their commitment to the scheme.

“These good Samaritans have played a crucial role in the success of Work Development Orders, by operating the programs that have helped disadvantaged people clear their fines and make a positive contribution to society,” Mr Smith said.

Ninety-six per cent of organisations and health practitioners involved in the Work Development Order pilot supported its continuation.

By April this year, more than 700 people had been issued with WDOs and had reduced $294,000 in personal fine debt.

“The expansion of Work Development Orders will divert more people from the criminal justice system and will save taxpayers’ money,” Mr Smith said.


Prisons to close [Small PDF icon 29kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Parramatta, Kirkconnell and Berrima Correctional Centres will close by the end of the year following an unprecedented drop in the prison population.

All inmates from those centres will be relocated by December 2011 and staff will be redeployed in a process that will save the State Government an estimated $26 million per annum.

There were 11,224 prison beds available at the end of August but only 9,847 inmates. That’s down from 10,400 in June last year.

Consultation with unions commenced in July to discuss the closure of between 600 and 650 beds and the need to find savings across the organisation.

Parramatta prison was partially closed in September last year when three of its six wings were shut. The building is 169 years old.

Voluntary redundancy packages, redeployment and additional training have been offered to all staff and every attempt is being made to backfill positions.

Commissioner Ron Woodham said support teams including senior HR managers will attend all three centres over the next month to offer advice and support in regard to employment options.

The Commissioner has written personally to all staff at Parramatta, Berrima and Kirkconnell advising them of the organisational changes.

There has already been a significant response to the latest round of voluntary redundancy packages which closed on August 26.

One hundred and eighty offers have already been approved and sent out to interested staff.

Staff were personally informed of the closures today.

Parramatta
  • 200 inmates are currently housed at Parramatta Correctional Centre which has the capacity to hold 580 inmates. They will be relocated to vacant beds at the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre, Silverwater, Long Bay, Parklea, Bathurst and the South Coast Correctional Centre.
  • A total of 143 staff from Parramatta Correctional Centre will be redeployed or offered voluntary redundancies due to the closure of this centre. Where vacancies exist, staff will be transferred around the State to backfill positions.
  • The future of the facility will be reviewed by the State Property Authority due to the buildings historic and heritage significance. The prison will close following a staged reduction before Christmas.

Berrima
  • Berrima Correctional Centre holds 75 inmates and has a current prison population of 60 inmates. Most of these female prisoners will be relocated to Dillwynia and Emu Plains Correctional Centres.
  • The 49 staff currently based at Berrima will be redeployed or offered voluntary redundancy.
  • All community projects currently being undertaken by inmates will not only continue but be expanded. An operational plan has been developed to assign the programs to offenders on Community Service Orders and Intensive Corrections Orders. Additional support will be provided by Goulburn Correctional Centre. These programs are a vital rehabilitation tool for offenders and an important service to the community. A plan has been put in place to ensure the service provided by Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) continues.
  • The prison will be closed by early November 2011.

Kirkconnell
  • Kirkconnell has the capacity to house 250 inmates, the current population being 170 inmates. All of these inmates will be relocated to the minimum security wings at Bathurst and Long Bay.
  • 57 staff at the centre will be redeployed or offered voluntary redundancies. Every attempt is being made to accommodate the requests of officers at the centre.
  • The Pups in Prison program will remain at Kirkconnell in the immediate short term before being relocated to Emu Plains Correctional Centre, to accommodate the highly successful program.
  • All community projects currently being undertaken by inmates will not only continue but be expanded. An operational plan has been developed to assign the programs to offenders on Community Service Orders and Intensive Corrections Orders. Additional support will be provided by Bathurst Correctional Centre inmates. These programs are a vital rehabilitation tool for offenders and a critical service to the community. A plan has been put in place to ensure the service provided by CSNSW continues.
  • The facility will be closed early December 2011.


NSW to expand court network and reduce recidivism [Small PDF icon 176kb]
Issued: Tuesday 6 September 2011

The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government will invest $46 million in programs to reduce re-offending and $78 million to build new courts and improve existing facilities, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

Mr Smith said the 2011-12 Budget provided for the creation of a new Drug Court, specialist drug rehabilitation correctional facilities and education and training programs for inmates.

There is funding to reduce the state’s juvenile remand population, with more than $11 million set aside over four years for programs which will assist young people with their bail applications and help them meet bail conditions.

“A significant number of young people are held in custody simply because they have no accommodation or support in the community to help them comply with bail,” Mr Smith said.

“Juvenile Justice will increase the number of Court Intake and Bail Support staff across the State, helping young people stay out of trouble and out of detention.”

The Government will invest a further $7 million over four years to house young people in Broken Hill under the Remote Remand Model.

“This funding will provide accommodation in a secure Juvenile Justice Centre at Broken Hill. It will allow young people to stay closer to their families, community and support systems,’’ Mr Smith said.

The Forum Sentencing program will receive $9 million as it expands to Cessnock, Lismore, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Wagga and Albury. The program, which gives victims of crime a role in determining an adult offender’s sentence, is currently operating at 33 locations across NSW.

Mr Smith said the Government is also examining the potential for greater contestability in the provision of corrective services, as part of a prison reform process currently underway.

In June 2010, prisoner numbers in full time custody had risen to just over 10,400. Within one year this has fallen below 10,000, with the State currently carrying a surplus capacity of approximately 12% in its prison system.

To address this surplus capacity and to align the State’s prison system with community needs, Mr Smith said the Berrima, Parramatta and Kirkconnell Correctional Centres would be closed and the inmates relocated to other facilities. As part of this change, a disused section of Parklea correctional centre with 80 beds will re-open.

Mr Smith said the Government would also expand and upgrade the NSW court network.

“The NSW Government will build a $40 million courthouse and a $19 million police station in Coffs Harbour, as part of a planned Government Services Precinct for the city,” Mr Smith said.

“The new courthouse will be 50 per cent larger than the existing court building and will feature up to five courtrooms, airport-style security and facilities for victims of crime, the legal profession, people with a disability and the general public.”

The Budget also includes $9 million for construction of a new courthouse at Armidale and $19 million to upgrade courts at locations including the Downing Centre in Sydney’s CBD, Liverpool, Waverley, Taree and Port Macquarie.

Other highlights of the Budget include:
  • almost $7 million for simplifying and accelerating the electronic filing of court documents, exchange of information between justice agencies and provision of online court services;
  • an additional $5 million to improve the maintenance of court facilities and technology;
  • more than $2 million for a trial of alternative dispute resolution procedures in child protection matters at Bidura Children’s Court;
  • more than $1 million for Legal Aid services to victims of sexual assault seeking to prevent their counselling records being produced as evidence; and
  • $200,000 for research into the needs of victims of crime.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has delivered a comprehensive and responsible plan to reduce re-offending, assist victims in their recovery and ensure that the NSW court system remains the best in Australia,” Mr Smith said.


Free NSW Legal Help Service Celebrates 10th Birthday [Small PDF icon 75kb]
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC today visited LawAccess NSW to congratulate the service on 10 years of helping people address their legal problems.

“LawAccess is a free telephone and online service that provides fast and practical legal information, referrals and in some cases legal advice to people in NSW, including many who are unfamiliar with the legal system and from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Mr Smith said.

Since it began in 2001, the service has answered more than 1.3 million calls and provided in excess of 138,000 advice sessions. Almost 15 per cent of its advice sessions were given in 2010/11.

“Over the past 10 years, the most common calls fielded by LawAccess have related to family law and parenting arrangements, debt issues, wills and employment law,” Mr Smith said.
Priority customers include those who live in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW, who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, who have a disability, who are homeless or who are from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Mr Smith said calls had increased more than 14-fold since the service, now based in Parramatta, began.

“LawAccess received 1,761 interpreter calls in 46 languages in 2010/11, compared to just 125 calls in 18 languages in its first full year of operation,” Mr Smith said.

LawAccess works closely with face-to-face services including Legal Aid, Community Legal Centres and local courts. The service, which receives funding from the NSW Government, was established in partnership with the Department of Attorney General and Justice, Legal Aid, the Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association.

To contact LawAccess, phone 1300 888 529 or call the Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450. For online help, visit www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au. The website features the new LawAssist service, which helps people representing themselves in court.

LawAssist currently covers the small claims debt process, motor vehicle accidents, apprehended domestic and personal violence orders and fines. LawAssist recorded more than 121,000 visits during its first year of operation in 2010-2011.


New president of the Guardianship Tribunal [Small PDF icon 97kb]
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Malcolm Schyvens as the President of the Guardianship Tribunal of NSW.

The Guardianship Tribunal helps to protect and empower people with a decision-making disability, such as those with dementia. Its responsibilities include determining applications for the appointment of guardians and financial managers.

“Mr Schyvens has worked extensively with those who have a decision-making disability in NSW and Tasmania and has served as Deputy President of the Guardianship Tribunal of NSW for the past three years,” Mr Smith said.

After studying law and commerce at the University of Tasmania, Mr Schyvens was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1997.

Mr Schyvens was managing partner of a legal practice in Hobart from 2002 to 2008. He has also served as President of the Law Society of Tasmania, Chairman of the Law Foundation of Tasmania and a Director of the Centre for Legal Studies in Tasmania.

“While in Tasmania, Mr Schyvens demonstrated a commitment to people with an intellectual disability or a mental illness through several responsibilities he held,” Mr Smith said.

“He was a Legal Member of the Guardianship & Administration Board (2003-2008), a member of the Forensic Tribunal (2007-2008), and was the President of the Board of Cosmos Inc. (2001-2008), an organisation providing community-based life skills and recreational services to people with an intellectual disability.”

Mr Schyvens joined the Guardianship Tribunal of NSW in 2008. Since moving to NSW, he has also been a member of the Elder Law & Succession Committee of the Law Society of NSW.

Mr Schyvens will begin a five-year term as President of the Guardianship Tribunal on September 1, 2011.

“I congratulate Mr Schyvens on his appointment and wish him well,” said Mr Smith.


NSW Government unveils legal services blueprint [Small PDF icon 206kb]
(31/08/11)
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced that the NSW Government’s spending on legal services would be subjected to higher standards of transparency and accountability.

Mr Smith today released the Government’s Legal Services Blueprint, following a major review of legal expenditure in the NSW public sector.

“The Government will increase public access to information about its spending on legal services and introduce measures to ensure the services are high quality and good value,” Mr Smith said.

The Department of Attorney General and Justice’s Legal Services Co-ordination Unit will drive the Blueprint’s reforms, which include:
  • more sharing of legal information between government agencies to reduce duplication;
  • an increase in government-wide specialised training of in-house legal teams;
  • standardising tendering processes and documentation for external legal services;
  • streamlining the use of legal panels by government agencies; and,
  • encouraging the greater use of alternative fee arrangements for external legal services, with a shift away from hourly rates.

Each government agency will be required to monitor and assess the performance of external legal services providers. From the 2012/2013 annual report onwards, agencies will also be required to publish information on legal services expenditure.

A review of legal expenditure found the NSW Government spent $296 million on legal services in 2008/09 (excluding frontline providers such as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Police Prosecutors, Legal Aid and the Public Defender’s Office).

“Legal services help the NSW Government to manage risk and protect the state’s interests,” Mr Smith said.“Government agencies will now be able to make better informed decisions about legal services and a more efficient process of selecting service providers will result in long term savings.”

For the blueprint got to www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lms


NSW Government to postpone pre-litigation reforms [Small PDF icon 95kb]
Issued: Tuesday 23 August 2011

The NSW Government will postpone the introduction of laws that require parties to take reasonable steps to resolve their disputes before they commence court proceedings, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

Part 2A of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 requires parties to take reasonable steps to resolve their dispute by mutual agreement or to more narrowly define the contentious issues before commencing court action. The provisions were passed in late 2010, but would only have applied to matters filed from 1 October 2011.

“A large number of lawyers and clients already take reasonable steps to resolve a civil dispute before resorting to litigation. The new laws were designed to encourage the remainder to do the same," Mr Smith said.

“However, since the laws were passed last year, concerns have been raised by a number of key stakeholders that the provisions may have unintended consequences.”

Mr Smith said the reasonable steps provisions would be postponed by 18 months to enable NSW to monitor the success of similar provisions that commenced in Federal courts on August 1.

“The NSW Government will ultimately make informed decisions about the future of Part 2A, using all of the available evidence,” Mr Smith said.

“Compliance with pre-trial obligations should reduce, not add to, the cost of resolving disputes. The purpose of this postponement is to ensure this is the case.”


New Privacy Commissioner appointed [Small PDF icon 94kb]
Issued: Monday 22 August 2011

The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Dr Elizabeth Coombs as NSW Privacy Commissioner.

Dr Coombs currently works as a consultant on governance and accountability issues, and has undertaken assignments for a range of NSW public sector agencies.

Over the past 25 years she has held senior positions within the public sector, including Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Fair Trading, acting Director General of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Assistant Director General of the NSW Premier’s Department. Her experience also includes roles in service agencies and state-owned corporations.

Since leaving the public service in mid-2007, Dr Coombs has served as Commissioner of the NSW Local Government Grants Commission and as an independent chair of audit and risk committees.

Mr Smith said Dr Coombs would be an impartial advocate for the protection of privacy in her new role.

“Dr Coombs will help ensure government agencies comply with information protection principles, advise the community on privacy issues and research the impact that developments in technology, policy and the law could have on privacy,” Mr Smith said.

Dr Coombs will replace John McAteer, who has served as Acting Privacy Commissioner for 13 months.

“I thank Mr McAteer for his strong work in raising public awareness about privacy issues and wish Dr Coombs every success in the role,” Mr Smith said.

Dr Coombs will start as Privacy Commissioner in early November. Her appointment runs for five years.


NSW Government to speed up victims of crime payments [Small PDF icon 113kb]
Issued: Friday 12 August 2011

The NSW Government has ordered an independent assessment of the Victims Compensation Scheme with a view to delivering faster and more effective financial support to victims of violent crime.

NSW Attorney General Greg Smith told Parliament he was concerned the scheme was unnecessarily complex and that claims were taking too long to be processed.

“Victims are often in the greatest need of financial assistance shortly after the crime has been committed against them, when they are faced with expenses for urgent medical and psychological treatment,” Mr Smith said.

“The NSW Government wants the scheme to provide prompt and practical financial support to victims rather than being a drawn-out process that delivers lump-sum payments to people long after their injuries have been treated.”

In the 2010-2011 financial year, 4973 claims for victims' compensation were determined and more than 3000 victims received total payments worth $63.2 million in compensation and counselling.

However, applications for compensation are taking an average of 20 months to be processed.
The NSW Government will engage independent experts to:
  • develop a profile of victims eligible for compensation;
  • examine alternative ways to provide support and rehabilitation services to victims; and,
  • conduct a comparative assessment of compensation schemes in other jurisdictions.
  • consider the value and effectiveness of restitution processes

“It is of the utmost importance that NSW has a Victims Compensation Scheme that is effective and sustainable,” Mr Smith said.

Victims' advocates are supporting the review, with Howard Brown from Victims of Crime Assistance League saying the current process often involved protracted legal action.

“We need to identify a method by which already traumatised victims are not financially burdened through their experience," Mr Brown said.

“Victims often see the compensation as 'blood money' and refuse to tarnish the reputation of their loved ones by applying."

Aside from the compensation scheme, the NSW Government also provides a range of other free services to victims including face-to-face counselling and telephone support.

More than 64,000 people called the Victims Access Line (ph: 1800 633 063) in 2010-11, compared with just over 48,000 in the previous year.

Eligible victims can also receive up to 10 hours free counselling upfront and apply for more sessions if necessary. More than 6500 people received counselling through this service in 2010-11, up from 6378 in 2009/10.



Retirement age raised for prosecutors and public defenders [Small PDF icon 108kb]
Issued: Thursday 11 August 2011

Some of the state’s most experienced prosecutors and public defenders will be able to extend their careers by up to seven years, with the compulsory retirement age being raised to 72, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

“The NSW Government does not want to see talented crown prosecutors and public defenders forced into retirement prematurely when they are mentally sharp and still have a great deal to offer the NSW justice system,” Mr Smith said.

The retirement age will be increased from 65 to 72 for a range of positions, including:
  • Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Solicitor for Public Prosecutions
  • Senior Crown Prosecutors
  • Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutors
  • Crown Prosecutors
  • Senior Public Defenders
  • Public Defenders.

The new compulsory retirement age will apply to all those appointed to these positions since 1 November 2007.

“Increasing the retirement age to 72 will make senior positions within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Public Defenders Office more desirable, which will help to attract the highest calibre of candidate,” Mr Smith said.

The changes will mirror existing retirement requirements for judicial officers, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and future Solicitors General.

“It is in the interests of consistency and fairness to apply the same retirement age of 72 to these senior statutory positions within the law,” Mr Smith said.

The NSW Government will also move to increase the independence of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by removing a requirement that the Executive Director of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions report to the Attorney General. The Executive Director, who is responsible for the efficient and economical management of the functions, resources and activities of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, will continue to report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.


NSW gives support to R18+ game rating [Small PDF icon 70kb]
Issued: Wednesday 10 August 2011

The NSW Government has given its formal support for the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.

Mr Smith said after a meeting of Federal and State Attorneys General in Adelaide that he expected NSW would join the agreement.

Cabinet has now given its “in-principle” support for the introduction of the R18+ rating.

“Few people would dispute the value of a classification system that helps keep adult
material beyond the reach of children,” Mr Smith said.

“With strong classification guidelines in place, an R18+ rating should result in violent games currently rated MA15+ in Australia being reclassified as adults-only, as they already are in many other countries. ‘’

Mr Smith said he would work with other Attorneys General on draft national guidelines that have been developed for a new ratings system. It would be important, he said, to ensure any proposal was in line with Federal and State Ministers’ agreement to not dilute Australia’s Refused Classification category.


New judge for the Supreme Court of NSW [Small PDF icon 93kb]
Issued: Wednesday 3 August 2011

One of Australia’s leading barristers, Anthony Meagher SC, has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

“For almost 30 years, Mr Meagher has been practising as a barrister, primarily in the areas of general commercial and equity law,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Meagher has appeared in matters involving trade practices, media law, corporations (including mergers and acquisitions), insurance, shipping, professional negligence and banking.

He was appointed a Senior Counsel in 1995 and has since appeared in a range of significant cases, including the C7 litigation and the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ legal battle to overturn its exclusion from the NRL.

Mr Meagher has been admitted to the Bar in Victoria, South Australia, ACT, Queensland and Western Australia. He is also an experienced arbitrator who has appeared in international arbitrations, and in some cases has chaired the hearings.

Mr Meagher will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court and a judge of Appeal on 10 August.


Architects appointed for Newcastle court development [Small PDF icon 99.6kb]
Issued: Friday 29 July 2011

One of Australia’s largest and most experienced architecture practices has been awarded the contract for the design of the $94 million Newcastle Courthouse, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announced today.

“The appointment of Cox Richardson Architects & Planners will allow detailed design work to start immediately, keeping the project on track for construction to begin in mid-2012,” Mr Smith said.

Cox Richardson Architects & Planners is the NSW branch of COX, an Australian practice with more than 40 years of experience. COX has worked on a range of major projects, including the design of new courthouses in Queensland and Western Australia.

The Newcastle Courthouse, to be built on the Burwood Wedge site in the city’s Civic Precinct, will feature at least 10 state-of-the art courtrooms.

“For the first time, Newcastle will have court facilities to host large trials involving multiple defendants and up to 15 jurors,” Mr Smith said.

“Many of the courtrooms will have high definition audio-visual technology which will improve the transmission quality of bail applications made from prison, witness testimony from external locations and recorded evidence.”

Mr Smith said the building would be among the most secure courthouses in NSW, featuring a cells complex, a network of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and an X-Ray machine and metal detector for the screening of court users.

“Importantly, there will be secure and well-appointed facilities for domestic violence victims and a private room for victims of sexual assault to give ‘in camera’ evidence to the court,” Mr Smith said.

Accommodating the Local, District and Supreme Court, the complex will be up to nine storeys high and 20 per cent larger than the city’s existing courthouse.

“The new courthouse will provide ample facilities for people with a disability, the legal profession, juries, justice agencies and support services,” Mr Smith said.

The Australian-owned APP Corporation was last month awarded the project management contract. The project is due for completion in 2014.


Attorney General supports justice awards [Small PDF icon 80kb]
Issued: 15 July 2011

Attorney General Greg Smith SC has thrown his support behind the annual New South Wales Justice Awards, which honour the extraordinary efforts of those who help the disadvantaged.

Nominations for this year's awards close in two weeks and Mr Smith is urging everyone in the community to think about who might deserve recognition for improving access to justice in NSW.

The categories are: Justice Medal, Aboriginal Justice Award, Pro Bono Partnership Award, and Law and Justice Volunteer Award.

“The Awards recognise unsung heroes in the community – be they lawyers or non-lawyers,’’ Mr Smith said. “In fact, most disadvantaged people don’t turn to a lawyer when they have a legal problem. They usually rely on friends, community organisations and non-legal professionals for assistance.’’

Mr Smith said he was pleased the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, which has been organising the awards for 12 years, had invited him to present this year’s Aboriginal Justice Award. Former High Court Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason has been asked to present the Justice Medal.

Rachael Martin, of the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women's Legal Centre – a Statewide service based in inner-city Marrickville - won the Justice Medal last year for her work in making the legal and justice system more accessible for Aboriginal women.

Roy "Dootch" Kennedy, a member of the Yuin-Kurie people of the South Coast who has been an advocate for Aboriginal rights, his community and the environment over the past 30 years, won the Aboriginal Justice Award.

The Pro Bono Partnership Award went to the team of Blake Dawson and Lou’s Place, which provides legal assistance to women in the heart of Kings Cross. Estrella McKinnon, who has been helping those vulnerable to violence or abuse in the Illawarra region for the past 25 years, received the Volunteer Award.

The awards ceremony will be held on October 24 at Parliament House.

Nominations close on July 29. For more information go to www.lawfoundation.net.au/justice_awards.


Coroner reminds motorists about baby capsule safety [Small PDF icon 33kb]
Issued: 15 July 2011

NSW State Coroner, Magistrate Mary Jerram, today urged parents to make sure their most precious cargo is properly secured in their vehicle, as they return home from school holidays this weekend.

"Since July 2000, there have been 27 completed coronial investigations into the deaths of children aged two years or younger in vehicle accidents on NSW roads," Magistrate Jerram said.

“Despite the best intentions of their parents, a number of these tragic deaths could have been avoided if their young child had been properly secured in the vehicle.”

The State Coroner said parents should regularly check that infants are secured in a capsule or other suitable restraint during road trips.

“Babies need to be fed and attended to frequently, which means parents are often lifting their child out of the capsule during the journey,” Magistrate Jerram said.

“The only time it is safe or legal to remove a child from their restraint device is when the vehicle is properly stopped and parked. This allows parents to concentrate on their child and ensures the safety of all involved.

“In some instances, parents forget to properly restrain their infant when returning them to the capsule, which can have fatal consequences if their vehicle is in an accident.

“Babies are extremely precious and fragile and can suffer serious injuries, even in a minor collision,” said Magistrate Jerram.

The State Coroner also urged parents to take regular breaks during road trips, not just to manage their fatigue, but also to enable infants to get fresh air.

“Babies have been found to experience slightly lower levels of blood oxygen if left for longer periods,” Magistrate Jerram said.

“In 2009, a Canadian Coroner recommended that young infants should not be left in car seats or capsules for lengthy periods after a two-month-old suffocated after one hour.”

In NSW, the Road Rules require that:
  • Children younger than six months must be secured in a rearward facing restraint.
  • Children aged six months to under 12 months must be secured in either a rearward or forward facing restraint.
  • Children aged 12 months to under four years must be secured in a forward facing child restraint.
  • Children aged four years to under seven years must be secured in forward facing child restraint or booster seat.
  • Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
  • Children aged four years to under seven years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in a child restraint or booster seat.
For further information about child restraints, including laws and advice on installation, visit www.rta.nsw.gov.au.


Appeal over sentence for mutilation [Small PDF icon 92kb]
Issued: 13 July 2011

The Crown has decided to appeal against the sentence handed down to a former South Coast doctor who was found guilty of genital mutilation, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.

Mr Smith said the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions had advised him the three-and-a-half-year jail term given to Graeme Reeves could be challenged on the grounds that it was “manifestly inadequate”. The minimum term is two years.

Reeves was found guilty of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Carolyn DeWaegeneire, whose genitals he removed without her consent, and indecently assaulting two other female patients.

Reeves, who practised obstetrics in the far South Coast town of Bega without registration, was also convicted of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

When the sentence was handed down on July 1, the Attorney General asked the Acting DPP, Lou Lamprati SC, whether it was open to an appeal.

Mr Smith said the Member for Bega and Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, Andrew Constance, had also enquired about an appeal.

He said Mr Constance had worked tirelessly to win justice for Mrs DeWaegeneire and other constituents along with other MPs such as the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner.


Synthetic cannabis banned in NSW [Small PDF icon 75kb]
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today warned retailers and consumers about the Government’s decision to ban a number of synthetic cannabinoids, with the law to come into full effect next Friday.

“Earlier this week the Minister for Mental Health and Healthy Lifestyles, Kevin Humphries, announced the Government’s intent to ban the synthetic cannabinoids contained in herbal smoking products after warnings from doctors and psychiatrists about the harmful effects,” Mr Smith said.

“People have until Friday, 8 July 2011 before the prohibition on the sale, possession and use of synthetic cannabinoids comes into effect via regulations under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act.

“This means that the synthetic cannabinoid ingredients contained in the herbal smoking products will be prohibited drugs in the same category as cannabis, heroin and cocaine.

“In the meantime, retailers of synthetic cannabinoids or products containing synthetic cannabinoids, as well as their customers, should consider themselves warned and immediately take steps to dispose of these substances safely and responsibly.”

The synthetic cannabinoids may be found in various products with brand names including Kronic, Spice, Kaos, Voodoo, Mango and Northern Lights which have a cannabis-like effect when smoked.

Use of these drugs may produce similar effects to cannabis and can raise heart rate, blood pressure and cause anxiety and hallucinations. Of particular concern is their potential for impairing judgment, therefore creating a hazard when an affected person drives or operates machinery.

Mr Smith said cannabis and cannabis-like drugs could affect a person’s mental health and physical wellbeing.

“These are not harmless products,” Mr Smith said. “There are clear risks to people’s health and safety and the Government has a duty to act.”

Further information will be available at www.health.nsw.gov.au.


Nowra Court celebrates NAIDOC Week [Small PDF icon 32kb]
A ceremony will be held at Nowra Courthouse during NAIDOC Week to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and recognise the contributions of Indigenous people to the justice system.

“Nowra’s Aboriginal Elders and other respected community members have pioneered programs such as Circle Sentencing and Care Circles to give our people a voice in the justice system and to help offenders turn their backs on crime,” said Gail Wallace, project officer for Circle Sentencing and Care Circles in Nowra.

“Circle Sentencing is now operating at 11 locations in NSW, with the successful Nowra program providing a model for other locations.”

The NAIDOC ceremony will be held on Tuesday, July 5. The event will include a welcome to country, guest speakers and a spiritual blessing with a didgeridoo player.

Nowra Courthouse registrar Craig Cockburn said the ceremony has the full support of the court.

“The court has developed a strong and positive working relationship with Nowra’s Indigenous community, particularly with the Aboriginal Elders who have provided invaluable advice on cases involving Indigenous victims of crime and offenders,” Mr Cockburn said.

“The Elders perform the work voluntarily and are driven by a desire to address the difficult and often complex issues facing members of their community.

“I encourage local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, the legal profession and other community members to show their support for Indigenous culture by attending the NAIDOC Week event.”

NAIDOC ceremony details
Where: Courtroom 3, Nowra Courthouse
When: 12pm-1pm, Tuesday, 5 July 2011

For more information about NAIDOC Week, visit www.naidoc.org.au.


Council approves DA for new Armidale Court [Small PDF icon 22kb]
Issued: Friday 1 July 2011

Construction will begin on a new Armidale Courthouse within six months, after Armidale Dumaresq Council approved a development application for the three-storey building, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announced today.

“The $15 million project will provide Armidale with a courthouse that will be significantly larger, more secure and better equipped than the city’s existing courthouse, which is more than 150 years old,” Mr Smith said.

The new 1750m courthouse will be located on Moore Street, adjacent to Armidale Police Station. The complex will include a local court, a jury court and a multipurpose room that could be used as a court to hear short administrative matters or to assemble jurors. There will also be two jury deliberation rooms.

Mr Smith said the new complex would provide ample facilities for victims of crime, the legal profession and other court users.

“Domestic violence victims will have access to a private, secure and comfortable area as they wait to be called into court,” Mr Smith said.

“The courthouse will also include at least seven interview rooms for the legal profession, including some non-contact rooms for lawyers meeting with potentially dangerous clients.”

Mr Smith said prisoners would be transferred from the police station to the courthouse via a secure passageway.

“Providing a direct link between the police station and the court will minimise prisoner contact with the public and reduce the risk of escapes,” Mr Smith said.

The registry at the new courthouse will make services easier to access and will include:
  • a computer kiosk to enable court users to browse legal resources on the internet
  • information boards with brochures on useful legal resources and support services
  • a split-level enquiries counter to provide easy access to people in a wheelchair
  • a separate room for lengthy or private transactions.

A secure car park for judicial officers and departmental vehicles will be located in the basement of the courthouse, courtrooms will be located on the ground floor, while the top floor will be used for administrative purposes and to provide chambers for judicial officers.

The new Armidale Courthouse is due for completion by March 2013.


Fines scheme a hand up, not a hand-out [Small PDF icon 196kb]
Issued: Thursday 30 June 2011

The homeless, mentally ill and those with serious addictions will be given the chance to “work off” any unpaid fines under an expanded program announced today by the Attorney General, Greg Smith SC.

Mr Smith said the Work Development Orders program involved more than 220 organisations and health professionals, such as Mission Australia, Anglicare, the Matthew Talbot Hostel, Schizophrenia Fellowship and Youth Off The Streets.

“The NSW Government does not want to see vulnerable people losing their driver's licence or ending up in jail as a result of escalating fine debt,” Mr Smith said.

“Work Development Orders give the very disadvantaged a chance to clear their fines by engaging in unpaid work or educational programs. They also give others a strong incentive to engage in mental health treatment and build their job skills."

The Attorney-General said the preliminary results of a two-year trial, which concludes on July 10, had convinced him the scheme should be extended and made permanent. It showed:
  • At April 30, more than 700 people had been issued with WDOs and reduced $294,000 worth of their fine debt. A further $1,933,755 worth of fine debt is now under management through WDOs.
  • More than 80 per cent of participants had no further fines or penalties referred for enforcement.
  • At least 200 people with mental illnesses participated.

The trial was open to the homeless, people with a mental illness, people with an intellectual or cognitive impairment and people experiencing acute financial hardship. It will now be accessible to people with serious addictions to alcohol, illicit drugs and other volatile substances.

“Drug and alcohol abuse are often closely linked to criminal behaviour and helping people overcome their addictions will have major benefits to the community,” Mr Smith said.

The NSW Government will also establish support teams through Legal Aid NSW and the Aboriginal Legal Service in regional areas and give approved organisations and health practitioners responsibility for assessing eligibility for WDOs

Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder of Youth Off The Streets, welcomed the extension of the program.

“This is a step in the right direction as we seek to break the cycle of poverty and abuse and work to reduce the chances of a young person ending up on the street again,‟‟ Father Riley said.

“We need to ensure that all young people needing assistance as a result of homelessness are given the support and the services needed for them to reach their full potential.

“It is not good enough that only one in five homeless young people who need support from services are able to access them. We need to do better.”

Mr Smith praised the commitment of organisations such as Youth Off The Streets.

“These good Samaritans have played a crucial role in the success of Work Development Orders, by operating the programs that have helped disadvantaged people clear their fines and make a positive contribution to society,” Mr Smith said.


NSW Drug Court Judge wins Prime Minister's Award [Small PDF icon 27kb]
Issued: Friday 24 June 2011

Attorney General Greg Smith has congratulated NSW Drug Court Senior Judge Roger Dive on receiving the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award at the 2011 National Drug and Alcohol Awards in Sydney tonight.

“I can think of no more worthy recipient of this award, which recognises the difference Judge Dive has made to the lives of hundreds of Drug Court participants who have overcome serious substance abuse problems,” Mr Smith said.

“Many of the participants would be in jail, were it not for Judge Dive and his team’s extraordinary efforts to address the causes of their offending and drug abuse, such as psychological problems, family dysfunction and inadequate education.”

Judge Dive was involved the development and implementation of the Youth Drug and Alcohol Court, which opened in Parramatta in 2000. In 2005, he was appointed Senior Judge of the adult Drug Court. He has presided over the court during a period of success and growth.

In 2008, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found the Drug Court was more cost-effective than prison in reducing the rate of re-offending among offenders who had committed drug-related crime. The study also found offenders who completed the program were 37 per cent less likely to be convicted of an offence than offenders who did not enter the Drug Court.

The positive outcomes achieved by Judge Dive and his Parramatta-based team resulted in a second Drug Court being opened at Toronto in March to service the Hunter region.

Mr Smith said the NSW Government will establish an additional Drug Court in the Sydney metropolitan area, which will include detoxification facilities, drug testing, monitoring and treatment.

“The expansion of the Drug Court is a key component of the Coalition Government’s plan to reduce recidivism by increasing prisoner access to rehabilitation programs,” Mr Smith said.

“I look forward to discussing the proposal for a new Drug Court with Judge Dive and utilising his knowledge and expertise.”

The National Drug and Alcohol Awards are held annually to celebrate achievements in preventing and reducing alcohol and other drug use and harm in Australia. The Prime Minister’s Award is the highest honour given at the ceremony.

While Judge Dive was unable to attend the ceremony, members of the Drug Court team accepted the award on his behalf and delivered his acceptance speech, in which he said:

“I would like to thank and acknowledge all the dedicated individuals and organisations who have worked alongside me at the Drug Court, the Youth Drug and Alcohol Court, and at our Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre.

“It is only by virtue of their continued efforts and skills that the programs have been such a success.

“These are exciting times for innovative programs and problem-solving courts, as governments across Australia, and across the world, recognise the success and cost effectiveness of proven programs.”

Judge Dive established a ‘Courts as Solutions’ group of magistrates and judges across Australia in 2010. He is also a board member of the International Association of Drug Treatment Courts.


New Director of Public Prosecutions [Small PDF icon 117kb]
Issued: Friday 24 June 2011

The New South Wales Crown Advocate, Lloyd Babb SC, will be the States’ next Director of Public Prosecutions, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

Mr Babb, 44, has an extensive and distinguished background in criminal law.
He has prepared cases for trial as a solicitor, first in private practice and then at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He has argued cases on both sides of the bar table – first as a crown prosecutor and then later as a public defender.

He has also worked as an adviser to the NSW Government on legal matters, as head of the Criminal Law Division of the Department of Attorney General and Justice and, since 2007, as Crown Advocate. As part of that role, he also conducted matters on behalf of the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions and appeared for the Crown, Attorney General and other government agencies. He was appointed a Senior Counsel in 2007.

“Mr Babb has proven himself to be a lawyer of the highest quality, who is well versed with all aspects of criminal law,’’ Mr Smith said.

“I can also vouch for him personally, having worked with him when he was a solicitor, a crown prosecutor and in his subsequent roles.’’

Mr Smith said a selection committee advised him on suitable candidates. It was comprised of the Chief Judge of the District Court, Justice Reg Blanch AM QC (a former DPP), the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption David Ipp AO QC, leading barrister Tim Game SC and solicitor Robyn Gray.

He said the committee had recommended Mr Babb as “having the necessary strength and resilience” for the position and advised that he had a “genuine interest in making a long-term contribution and difference to the office of the director of Public Prosecutions, its work and its people.”

Mr Babb will take up his position on 18 July. The appointment is for 10 years.


Lead role for NSW on National Profession [Small PDF icon 124kb]
Issued: Friday 24 June 2011

The NSW Government will take a leading role in the national regulation of the legal profession, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announced today.

“Lawyers, law practices and consumers alike will benefit from these national reforms,’’ Mr Smith said.

“Streamlined legislation and a uniform set of national rules will result in simpler regulation, greater flexibility within the regulatory system and consistent consumer protections across Australia.”

The Council of Australian Governments, with the exception of South Australia and Western Australia, gave in-principle agreement to the proposed national scheme at its February 2011 meeting. The reforms are part of COAG’s commitment to deliver a seamless national economy.

“As the dominant player in the Australian legal services market, Sydney would be the most appropriate place to establish the new national regulators, the National Legal Services Board and Commissioner,” Mr Smith said.

The proposed scheme will substantially reduce red tape for the legal profession and provide uniform protection for consumers against overcharging and other misconduct.

“NSW lawyers are trusted advisors to local and international businesses and the legal profession also plays an essential role in ensuring access to justice for our community. Less red tape will allow lawyers to spend more time servicing the needs of this diverse range of consumers.”

“In addition, a single national practising certificate will entitle NSW legal practitioners, many of whom are leaders in their field, to practise in any location across Australia.”

The national law will protect consumers by placing an overriding duty on law practices to:
  • charge fair and reasonable legal costs;
  • take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the client understands and consents to the proposed course of action and costs; and,
  • ensure that a principal of their practice takes responsibility for bills for legal services (in cases of overcharging, the principal could be subject to disciplinary proceedings, along with other practitioners who issued or authorised the bill).

There is also a new consumer complaints regime designed to resolve disputes with law practices more efficiently. The process, to be conducted by independent bodies in each State and Territory, will encourage parties to reach an agreement through mediation.

“A range of new, more flexible, remedies will be available to assist in resolving disputes between consumers and lawyers, giving consumers access to the types of resolutions that they have told the Reform Taskforce they want,’’ Mr Smith said. “Often, a simple apology is all that the consumer is after.”

In NSW, the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner would continue to handle complaints and investigate allegations of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct.

The package for national regulation of the legal profession was developed in consultation with Attorneys General, the courts, the legal profession and consumers. More than 160 submissions on the reforms were received during the consultation period last year. COAG is expected to consider the reforms next month.


Flooding affects court registries in northern NSW
Issued: Friday 17 June 2011


Flood-related road closures have prevented one northern NSW courthouse from operating today.

The court registry at Macksville is open however court sittings for the 16 and 17 June have been postponed.

All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.


Flooding affects court registries in northern NSW
Issued: Thursday 16 June 2011


Flood-related road closures have affected some northern NSW courthouses operations today.


Local court sittings at Macksville have been cancelled and some matters adjourned to Coffs Harbour.

Local court registries are open at Macksville, Bellingen (may close later today), Kempsey, Taree and Port Macquarie.

All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.


Flooding affects court registry in northern NSW
Issued: Wednesday 15 June 2011

Flood-related road closures have prevented one northern NSW courthouse from operating today.


The court registry at Bellingen is closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work.


Court sittings are unaffected as there are no scheduled sittings this week at this location.



Flooding affects court registries in northern NSW
Issued: Tuesday 14 June 2011

Flood-related road closures have prevented two northern NSW courthouses from operating today.

Court registries at Grafton and Bellingen are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work.

Court sittings are unaffected as there are no scheduled sittings this week at those locations.


NSW Government orders review of Bail Act [Small PDF icon 73kb]
Issued: Thursday 9 June 2011

The NSW Government has ordered a comprehensive review of the Bail Act, amid concerns juveniles have been unfairly victimised, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and
Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

“I’m concerned that juveniles charged with petty offences are being forced to mix with hardened criminals while on remand and that could influence them towards a life of
crime,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“This is particularly disturbing when many of the young offenders are eventually released by the courts without any custodial sentence,” he said.

A retired Supreme Court judge, the Honourable Hal Sperling QC, will lead the NSW Law Reform Commission project.

The Act had been amended 17 times since it was introduced 33 years ago.

“The Bail Act has become a patchwork quilt that is difficult to read and understand.

Every time Labor tried to ‘clarify’ the law they only created more confusion,” he said.

Mr Smith said a change in 2007, which allowed only one bail application unless there was a ‘change in circumstances’, had a dramatic effect on juveniles. In 2006, there
were 3623 minors admitted to remand, but in 2008 this figure jumped to 5082.

Another change in 2009 made it slightly easier to make another bail application but contained no special provision for juveniles. Currently, only 20 per cent of those on
remand end up with a sentence of detention.

“I am concerned the Bail Act had moved away from the spirit and intent of the original legislation. This was to ensure attendance at a hearing or trial, to stop defendants
from committing further offences and to prevent interference with witnesses,” he said.

We need to get smarter about law and order. While protection of the public is an important factor, merely being charged should not mean that you end up in jail.

“The presumption of innocence must remain at the heart of bail laws," he said.

Mr Sperling will deliver his report by November. The terms of reference and consultation questions are available at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc.


Tom Bathurst QC sworn in as Chief Justice [Small PDF icon 89kb]
Issued: Wednesday 1 June 2011

The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has welcomed Tom Bathurst QC as the State’s new Chief Justice at a ceremonial sitting of the NSW Supreme Court today.

Mr Smith said Mr Bathurst’s appointment followed an exceptional career as a barrister and stints as president of both the Australian Bar Association and the NSW Bar Association.

Mr Smith welcomed the Chief Justice’s stated goals of making justice more accessible and more affordable - and of making full use of the technology to serve those ends.

“Mr Bathurst brings to the position an enviable reputation, a wealth of experience and a commitment to public service,’’ said the Attorney General.

“I am sure he will make an outstanding contribution to the administration of justice in NSW.”


Tribute to Chief Justice Spigelman [Small PDF icon 88kb]
Issued: Tuesday 31 May 2011

Attorney General Greg Smith SC has paid tribute to the outgoing Chief Justice of NSW, James Spigelman AC in a ceremony at the Supreme Court today.

Mr Smith said the Chief Justice had served the State with distinction for the past 13 years.

“James Spigelman has been an outstanding Chief Justice,’’ Mr Smith said.

“He has led a happy and productive court, delivered outstanding judgements and inspired thoughtful debate on the law.’’

Mr Smith said the Supreme Court under the Chief Justice had introduced important reforms that cut waiting times, reduced costs and embraced technology.

The Chief Justice had also forged important links with overseas courts that made Sydney a hub for commercial law in the Asia-Pacific.

“James Spigelman has made an immense contribution to the political, legal, cultural and intellectual life of NSW and Australia,‘’ Mr Smith said.

“I wish him, and his family, well.’’


You spray, you pay: NSW Government to get tough on graffiti vandals [Small PDF icon 194kb]
Issued: Tuesday 31 May 2011

Courts will be given powers to disqualify graffiti vandals from driving under new legislation to be introduced into Parliament today, honouring another election commitment, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Attorney General Greg Smith SC said.

“The public are sick and tired of waking up to find trains, schools, fences and other buildings marred by ugly graffiti tags. It’s costing the community well over $100 million a year, including around $50 million just by RailCorp,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“The time has come to not only make offenders clean up their mess but also face tough penalties – and as the father of a teenager, I understand there’s nothing more valuable to young people than their driver’s licence,” he said.

“Magistrates will be empowered to put offenders on licence restrictions, reduce the offender’s number of demerit points or disqualify them from driving altogether.”

The NSW Government will:
  • require juvenile graffiti vandals to appear before the court for a graffiti offence
  • give courts the power to:
    - extend the time graffiti offenders spend on learner or provisional licences, or
    - suspend a driver licence, or
    - limit the number of demerit points they are able to accrue over a specific period;
  • require cleaning up graffiti a condition of any court imposed Community Service Orders on graffiti offenders.

“BOCSAR figures show over two-thirds of graffiti offenders identified by police are under the age of 18 and over 50 per cent were young males,” Mr O’Farrell said

Mr Smith said graffiti imposes a real cost on businesses, individuals and local councils. It also makes our communities less attractive places to live and families feel less safe.

“Our plan to tackle graffiti in local communities balances penalties for young people who do the wrong thing and offers positive incentives to break a developing juvenile habit,” he said.

“The introduction of stronger penalties for offenders and a scheme to ensure graffiti is promptly detected and removed will discourage vandals, improve public safety and build community pride,” Mr Smith said.


Free legal help in Nambucca Heads [Small PDF icon 202kb]
Issued: Thursday 2 June 2011

People in Nambucca Heads will be able to obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland.

From 9 June 2011 a lawyer funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the second Thursday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems such as:
credit and debt
  • credit and debt
  • Centrelink benefits disputes
  • tenancy
  • discrimination
  • victim’s compensation
  • family law and care and protection matters
  • apprehended domestic violence orders.

Mr Kirkland said that the new service has been established to respond to gaps in the availability of legal assistance, particularly in rural communities.

“Through this program we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Nambucca Heads, particularly those who can't afford to see a private lawyer and can't easily travel to our Coffs Harbour office,” said Mr Kirkland.

"Legal advice can help if, for example, you are having trouble paying your credit card bills, have separated from a partner and need advice about care arrangements for children, or if you are having problems with Centrelink.

"If a client has a problem which needs to be pursued, they will be referred to an appropriate service that can provide further help.”

The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the second Thursday of every month at The Roundabout (next door to Nambucca Family Day Care Office), 157 Mann Street, Nambucca Heads, from 10 am to 1 pm.

To make an appointment call: (02) 6562 1888


Free legal help in Orange [Small PDF icon 203kb]
Issued: Friday 27 May 2011

People in Orange will be able to obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland.

From 1 June 2011, lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the first Wednesday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems such as:

  • credit and debt
  • Centrelink benefits disputes
  • tenancy
  • discrimination
  • victim’s compensation
  • family law and care and protection matters
  • apprehended domestic violence orders.

Mr Kirkland said the new service has been established to respond to gaps in the availability of legal assistance, particularly in rural communities.

“The nearest Legal Aid civil law service is over 150 km away in Dubbo. Through this program we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Orange, particularly those who can’t afford to see a private lawyer,” Mr Kirkland said.

“Legal advice can help if, for example, you are having trouble paying your credit card bills, have separated from a partner and need advice about care arrangements for children, or if you are having problems with Centrelink.

“If a client has a problem which needs to be pursued, they will be referred to an appropriate service that can provide further help.”

The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the first Wednesday of every month at Orange Courthouse, corner of Lords Place and Byng Street, Orange, from 9 am to 12 pm.

To make an appointment call (02) 6365 2634


Leading lawyer appointed a Supreme Court judge [Small PDF icon 95kb]
Issued: 25 May 2011

Experienced lawyer Ashley Black has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

For the past 16 years, Mr Black has been a partner at Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Sydney and has appeared in a range of high profile commercial litigation cases.

Mr Black holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Laws and a Masters of Laws from the University of Sydney and received first class honours for all three degrees. He was also awarded the Law Graduates Association Medal in his Masters of Laws.

He was admitted as a solicitor in 1987 and was a Judge’s Associate in the Federal Court of Australia in 1988. Mr Black joined Mallesons Stephen Jaques in 1989, where he remained until his appointment as a judge.

Mr Black has authored or contributed to 37 legal publications, including a leading Australian text on securities and financial services law and Austin & Black’s Annotated Corporations Act.

He is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney and a Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales.

“Mr Black is a highly respected legal practitioner and his appointment to the Supreme Court is well-deserved,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Black will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on Monday, 4 July 2011.


Free legal help in Tenterfield [Small PDF icon 34kb]
Issued: Thursday 19 May 2011
People in Tenterfield can now obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland.

From 24 May 2011, lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the fourth Tuesday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems, including:

  • credit and debt
  • Centrelink benefits disputes
  • tenancy
  • discrimination
  • victims compensation
  • family law and care and protection matters
  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders.

Mr Kirkland said the new service has been established to respond to gaps in the availability of legal assistance, particularly in rural communities.

“The nearest Legal Aid office is over 160 km away in Lismore. Through this program, we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Tenterfield, particularly those who can't afford to see a private lawyer,” Mr Kirkland said.

"Legal advice can help if, for example, you are having trouble paying your credit card bills, have separated from a partner and need advice about care arrangements for children, or if you are having problems with Centrelink.

"If a client has a problem which needs to be pursued, they will be referred to an appropriate service that can provide further help.”

The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at:

Tenterfield Courthouse

94 Molesworth Street, Tenterfield

11 am – 2 pm

To make an appointment call (07) 6772 1322


Free legal help in Bega [Small PDF icon 29kb]
Issued: Thursday 19 May 2011

People in Bega can now obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland.

From today, lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the third Thursday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems such as:

  • credit and debt
  • Centrelink benefits disputes
  • tenancy
  • discrimination
  • victims compensation
  • family law and care and protection matters
  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders.

Mr Kirkland said the new service has been established to respond to gaps in the availability of legal assistance, particularly in rural communities.

“The nearest Legal Aid civil law service is over 260 km away in Nowra. Through this program we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Bega particularly those who can’t afford to see a private lawyer,” Mr Kirkland said.

“Legal advice can help if, for example, you are having trouble paying your credit card bills, have separated from a partner and need advice about care arrangements for children, or if you are having problems with Centrelink.

“If a client has a problem which needs to be pursued, they will be referred to an appropriate service that can provide further help.”

The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the third Thursday of every month at the:

Far South Community College

32 Church Street, Bega

From 10 am – 1 pm

To make an appointment call (02) 4474 0700


$4 million for stage one of Sydney court redevelopment [Small PDF icon 98kb]
Issued: Thursday 19 May 2011

A major redevelopment of the John Maddison Tower (JMT) court complex will begin today, with NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announcing details of a $4.34 million contract for stage one of the project.

The first stage will involve a redevelopment of two-and-a-half floors of John Maddison Tower to provide the Dust Diseases Tribunal and the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) with state-of-the-art headquarters,” Mr Smith said.

The new facilities include courtrooms, tribunal rooms, registries, interview rooms, chambers and offices as well as video-link technology and additional security.

“The Dust Diseases Tribunal will also have a sick room for seriously ill plaintiffs and a large witness box to enable multiple experts to take the stand together and give concurrent evidence - a practice known as „hot tubbing‟,‟‟ Mr Smith said.

“Hot tubbing allows expert witnesses to discuss their evidence and eliminate or narrow issues in dispute, which can reduce the length and cost of a hearing.”

The contract for stage one of the redevelopment has been awarded to Donnelley Constructions. The Sydney company is expected to complete the project within three months. Court sittings will not be affected.

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal, currently located in the St James Centre in Sydney‟s CBD, will relocate to Level 10 of John Maddison Tower by September. The Dust Diseases Tribunal will move from Level 4 of John Maddison Tower on to Levels 11 and 12 by September.

Mr Smith said John Maddison Tower would undergo further renovations in 2012 and the adjoining Downing Centre court complex would also be subject to improvements later this year and in 2012.

“Architects will be appointed shortly to design the upcoming projects, which will include a new civil registry and new jury rooms for the Downing Centre,” he said.

The redevelopment of John Maddison Tower and the Downing Centre is expected to cost $26.5 million over five years


One-stop shop for victims of crime research
Issued: Wednesday 18 May 2011

The NSW Government will create Australia’s first clearinghouse for research on helping victims of crime, Attorney General Greg Smith will tell the Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime conference in Sydney tomorrow.

“Victims of crime often face complex psychological, physical and financial problems, yet there is limited research, particularly in an Australian context, about what helps them in their recovery,” Mr Smith said.

“The Victims of Crime Clearinghouse website will be a one-stop shop for local and international research, containing summaries of relevant articles, reports and conference papers. The project will also identify areas where more research needs to be done.”

Mr Smith will open the Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime conference, a two-day event which is being co-hosted by Victims Services, NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice and the Australian Institute of Criminology.

The conference will examine a range of issues including victims’ rights and the most effective ways of supporting victims of crime, particularly during the criminal justice process.

The two-day conference will feature more than 50 local and international experts, including:

  • Dr Jonathan Doak, Director of the Criminal Justice Research Group, Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom;
  • Professor Jane Ursel, Professor of Sociology, University of Manitoba in Canada; and,
  • The Hon David Levine AO RFD QC, Chairperson of the Serious Offenders Review Council in NSW and former Supreme and District Court judge.

Mr Smith said the NSW Government was ensuring victims of crime have a strong voice in the administration of justice.

“The government will amend sentencing laws to allow judges to take into account - as an aggravating circumstance - the contents of impact statements of the family of homicide victims,” Mr Smith said.

The Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime conference is at the Mercure Central Hotel, George Street, Sydney. The Attorney General will open the conference at 9am tomorrow.



Lawyers make a song and dance of Law Week [Small PDF icon 21kb]
Issued: Sunday 15 May 2011

The hidden musical talents of the NSW legal profession will be revealed at an open air Legal Expo at Martin Place in Sydney tomorrow to launch Law Week 2011.

Lawyers ‘of note’ will deliver free performances throughout the day that will include jazz, opera, cabaret and tap dancing.

“The Expo will enable the community to learn about the law, access legal services – and be entertained in the process,” said Attorney-General Greg Smith SC.

More than 20 legal service providers will operate stalls, offering help on how to:
  • write a will
  • access free legal information and find your nearest lawyer
  • organise a free mediation to resolve a neighbourhood dispute
  • protect yourself against cyber crime and property theft
  • contact support services for victims of crime
  • access a range of other legal services.

Law Week events will be taking place across NSW and Australia from 16-22 May.

Mr Smith and Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland will take part in a five-kilometre walk for justice along the Sydney Harbour Foreshores this morning.

The walk will raise money for the Public Interest Legal Clearing House (PILCH) which facilitates pro bono work to assist individuals and not for profit organisations, particularly in relation to legal issues of concern to the community.

Other Law Week events include the NSW Young Lawyers’ Golden Gavel public speaking competition, mock trials involving school students, open days at courthouses and seminars on drink driving, cyber bullying, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens.

The theme of Law Week 2011 is Law and Justice in Your Community. For more information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.

Young offenders clean up illegal graffiti [Small PDF icon 21kb]
Issued: Friday 13 May 2011

Young offenders under Juvenile Justice supervision would spend the weekend repairing graffiti damage around the state in recognition of Graffiti Action Day on Sunday, Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith said today.

“Juvenile Justice has partnerships with local councils around the state where young offenders on Community Service Orders are required to undertake clean-up work in council areas,’’ Mr Smith said.

“This weekend young offenders removed graffiti or cleaned up council areas in Newcastle, Blacktown, Fairfield and Ashfield as part of Graffiti Action Day. Sites included bus shelters, council properties, football ovals, parks and playgrounds.

“Graffiti removal work is a priority for Juvenile Justice and the council.

“Graffiti removal teaches young offenders to take pride in their local community, and in turn, be steered away from a life of crime.”

Mr Smith said Juvenile Justice worked closely with more than 20 local councils and community groups around the state to supervise young offenders on community service orders as they remove graffiti from public view.

“Clean up teams remove graffiti at a range of sites, including bus shelters, council properties, community centres, shopping centres, playgrounds, businesses, parks and playgrounds.”

“Last year, young offenders completed over 10,000 hours of graffiti removal around the state.”

The NSW Government has linked with Keep Australia Beautiful NSW for Graffiti Action Day.

“Studies have shown that removing graffiti quickly discourages graffiti vandals, boosts civic pride, minimises crime and the perception of crime and can even increase property values,’’ Mr Smith said.

“Graffiti Action Day is about local communities taking a stand against illegal graffiti.”

Attorney General hands out pardons [Small PDF icon 21kb]
Issued: Friday 13 May 2011

The NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, will hand out ‘pardons’ to ‘inmates’ who take part in the Whitelion bailout event at Yasmar Juvenile Detention Centre tomorrow.

Thirty CEOs, managers and business staff from around Sydney will pay $1500 each to don prison overalls and be locked up overnight in Yasmar, a former juvenile detention facility in the inner-western suburb of Haberfield.

All the Friday-night ‘inmates were due to arrive at the facility at 5.30pm for processing. They include Sydney Opera House CEO Richard Evans, former rugby league international and CEO of Central Coast Bears, Greg Florimo, as well as senior managers from Nandos, Westpac and two directors from Whitelion’s major partner Schweppes Australia.

Mr Smith said he was delighted to be able to pardon participants.

“The businesses who have already signed up with Whitelion are ensuring young offenders are given the opportunity to have a reliable job, make a decent wage, and stay on the right track in life,” Mr Smith said.

“Whitelion has a deep commitment to making a real difference to the lives of young people. They work closely with Juvenile Justice staff to provide our young offenders in NSW with real jobs and real wages.

“Secure employment builds confidence in young offenders, and can help them realise their full potential and significantly reduce their risk of reoffending.

“We now call upon NSW businesses to get on board with the Whitelion employment program.”

Whitelion is not-for-profit community organisation that works with young people in the juvenile justice system to provide job training, work experience, short-term placement and supported ongoing employment.

Calling all budding young artists: the Anti-Discrimination Board wants you [Small PDF icon 51kb]
Issued: 13 May 2011

School students across the state will have the opportunity to show off their artistic talents in a poster design competition.

The Anti-Discrimination Board is running a competition for primary and secondary students. The ‘JUST BE FAIR – Celebrate Diversity in your Community’ poster competition is open to all students across New South Wales.

Using a medium of their choosing such as painting, drawing, multimedia, photography or digital design, students will be required to design a poster that celebrates diversity in their community. The competition will also be supported by classroom activities helping to inform young people about the law, bullying and discrimination.

“Playground bullying and discrimination can have a profound affect on children. The poster competition is a great way to encourage students to think about and embrace their differences and really say no to bullying,” said Stepan Kerkyasharian, President, Anti-Discrimination Board.

The competition closes 23 May 2011 with winners announced on 6 June 2011. The top three entries will be awarded book vouchers for themselves and their school. The winning posters will also be circulated to libraries around the State.

The poster competition is part of Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community.

Law Week runs from May 16 –22. The theme of Law Week 2011 is ‘Law and Justice in Your Community’.

Other events during Law Week include mock trial exercises for school students, an open air legal expo at Sydney’s Martin Place, open days at courthouses and seminars on drink driving, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens.

The incoming Attorney General, Greg Smith said he was looking forward to taking part in Law Week activities.

“Law week promotes the rule of law and what lawyers do to serve the needs of the community,” Mr Smith said.

For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.


Tom Bathurst QC to be Chief Justice [Small PDF icon 50kb]
Issued: Friday 13 May 2011

Attorney-General Greg Smith SC today said he would be recommending to Her Excellency, Governor Marie Bashir, the appointment of Tom Bathurst QC as the next Chief Justice of NSW.

Mr Bathurst will replace the Honourable James Spigelman AC QC and become the State's 17th Chief Justice.

Mr Smith said Mr Bathurst had been a Queens Counsel since 1987 and had a nationwide practice which included extensive work in the High Court, the Federal Court and state appeal courts.

He has also appeared in Hong Kong and given expert evidence in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

"Mr Bathurst is an outstanding lawyer, who is renowned for his expertise in commercial law," Mr Smith said.

"I am confident he will serve the State with distinction," Mr Smith said.

Mr Bathurst, 63, is a former president of the Australian Bar Association and the current president of the NSW Bar Association.

The Attorney-General thanked Justice Spigelman, who leaves office on May 31, for his remarkable contribution over 13 years as Chief Justice.

A short biography of Mr Bathurst is attached.

Name:
Tom Bathurst QC
Date of birth: 17 March 1948

Qualifications:
Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws, University of Sydney: 1971
Admitted as solicitor in NSW: 1972
Admitted as barrister in NSW: 1977
Appointed Queens Counsel: 1987

Offices:
President Australian Bar Association: 2008-2009
President NSW Bar Association, 2010- 2011
Member Commonwealth Takeovers Panel 2008-2011

Family:
Wife Robyn and two daughters.

Interests:
Rugby, tennis, opera and travel.



Schools rush to join Law Week sleuth challenge [Small PDF icon 206kb]
Issued: Thursday 12 May 2011

What began as a low key competition to get Lake Macquarie school children interested in the law has grown into one of the most popular events on the National Law Week calendar, involving 13 schools in Australia.

“The Clued-Up Kids competition puts gifted year 5 and 6 students in charge of solving a fictional crime mystery, with the children drip fed clues over a three week period,” said competition creator and Belmont Court Deputy Registrar Catherine Piper.

“The competition, now in its fourth year, has expanded mainly through word of mouth within school networks.”

This year’s case involves three boys who stole their maths teacher’s car and crashed it into a telegraph pole. The student sleuths are investigating which of the boys was driving the vehicle.

“The competition is based on the premise that children find it easier to learn when they are having fun and the experience is interactive,” said Mrs Piper.

“The students are given a police statement of facts, witness statements and forensic evidence and are encouraged to ask questions about the incident.”

Mrs Piper said the exercise teaches students about the law and encourages teamwork and lateral thinking.

Due to the popularity of Clued-Up Kids, the competition has been split in two: schools in the Lake Macquarie district are competing in a local challenge, while schools from Sydney, the Mid North Coast and Western Australia are facing off in a correspondence challenge.

Teams from Lake Macquarie schools will present their findings at Belmont Courthouse on May 17. The schools in the correspondence challenge will send their entries by email or by post.

“The entries will be judged by expert panels that will include a retired magistrate, a police officer and representatives of the Department of Attorney General and Justice,” said Mrs Piper.

“The students are encouraged to be creative in their presentation and in the past we have seen role plays, re-enactments, rap songs and even a mock current affairs program,” said Mrs Piper.

The participating schools will also submit an artwork based on this year’s Law Week theme: Law and Justice in Your Community.

Members of the winning teams will receive a book and a certificate. Competing in this year’s challenge are students from Lake Macquarie, Floraville, Wallsend, Jewells, Hillsborough, Valentine, Bexley, Smithfield, Dural, Nowra, Port Macquarie, Hornsby and Albany in Western Australia.

Clued-Up Kids is part of Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community.

Other events in New South Wales during Law Week include open days at courthouses and seminars on drink driving, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens.

The incoming Attorney General, Greg Smith said he was looking forward to taking part in Law Week activities.

“Law week promotes the rule of law and what lawyers do to serve the needs of the community,” Mr Smith said.

For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.


Young people to explore the law in Newcastle [Small PDF icon 205kb]
Issued: Thursday 12 May 2011

High school students in the Newcastle area will have a unique opportunity to find out more about their local court and law and justice issues affecting young people.

Newcastle Courthouse will host open days on Thursday, May 19 and Friday, May 20 from 9.30 am – 2 pm. High school students will be able to attend a number of talks and programs on these days focusing on youth-related legal issues. These include:
    • presentations by NSW Police on cyber-bullying offences and the issues associated with Facebook and social networking sites;
    • information seminars on powers of attorney and guardianship for young people;
    • a film presentation by Legal Aid on the repercussions for young people involved in high-risk behaviour;
    • role plays on mediation and accessing mediation services;
    • presentations by Juvenile Justice on intervention programs for young Indigenous people; and,
    • information sessions for young people with a disability, their families and carers.
There will also be an opportunity for legal studies students to seek career advice at a ‘legal Q&A’ lunch on Friday, May 20 at 12pm.

Local court registrars, police prosecutors and lawyers will be on hand to answer questions and provide advice to high school students wishing to pursue a career in the justice sector. Bookings for this session can be made by contacting Newcastle Courthouse on 4921 2200 or by emailing local_court_newcastle@agd.nsw.gov.au.

Also on hand over the two days will be representatives from the local court, Law Access, the Aboriginal Community Justice Group, Community Justice Centres, the Department of Fair Trading, Hunter Community Legal Centre, and the Salvation Army. The representatives will be available to provide information on the many legal support services available in Newcastle.

The open days are part of Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community.

Other Law Week events in NSW include mock trial exercises for school students, colouring competitions for primary school students and seminars on drink driving, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens.

The incoming Attorney General, Greg Smith said he was looking forward to taking part in Law Week activities.

“Law week promotes the rule of law and what lawyers do to serve the needs of the community,” Mr Smith said.

Law Week runs from May 16 –22. For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.


Ballina court unveils tribute to Magistrate Pogson [Small PDF icon 205kb]
Issued: Thursday 12 May 2011

A portrait of the late Magistrate Kim Pogson was unveiled at Ballina Courthouse last night, as a tribute to the highly respected judicial officer who died on November 4 last year.

The Chief Magistrate of NSW, Judge Graeme Henson attended the ceremony to pay his respects to his friend and colleague.

“The portrait will preserve the legacy of Magistrate Pogson, who made a substantial contribution to the justice system, particularly on the Far North Coast where he spent the majority of his 16 years on the bench,” said Judge Henson.

“As a Magistrate, he will be remembered for his fairness and efficiency and his willingness to help his colleagues, particularly those who were new to the bench.”

“As a friend, I will remember Kim for his sense of humour, his love of life and his dedication to his family.”

The portrait photograph was taken of Magistrate Pogson sitting on the bench at Grafton Courthouse.

“It is fitting that the portrait of Magistrate Pogson serving at the most southern point of his court circuit will be displayed at Ballina – the most northern point of his circuit. It is symbolic of the impact he made wherever he served,” said Magistrate Jeff Linden.

Attorney General Greg Smith said the portrait’s position was unique in NSW.

“I have been to many courts in NSW during my time as Crown Prosecutor and more recently as a politician and I can’t recall anywhere else that has a portrait of a magistrate in a courtroom. It is a well-deserved tribute to Magistrate Pogson for his exemplary service to the bench and the community,” Mr Smith said.

Magistrate Pogson’s widow, Sandra Pogson and his two children attended the unveiling of the portrait, along with local magistrates, court staff and a representative of the legal profession, the NSW Police and the NSW Sheriff’s office.

Magistrate Pogson was admitted as a solicitor in 1972. He practised primarily in the Manly Warringah area on Sydney’s northern beaches, where he became a partner in a law firm.

In 1985, he was appointed an arbitrator and subsequently heard more than 150 cases on a range of matters including disputes over motor vehicle accidents, contracts and building matters.

The experience he gained as an arbitrator in settling matters and making determinations helped to prepare him for the next stage of his career as a Magistrate.

Magistrate Pogson was appointed to the bench of the Local Court in 1994. He worked on circuits in Bathurst and Lismore until 2001 when he returned to Sydney. He was appointed to the Ballina Circuit in 2006, where he remained for the rest of his career.

“Magistrate Pogson felt a great affinity for the Far North Coast where he made some enduring friendships and was able to regularly enjoy his favourite pastimes of swimming and golf,” said Magistrate Linden.



Corporate fault law reform to benefit NSW economy
Issued: Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The NSW Government will reduce the complexity of laws that regulate when company executives can be held personally liable for the criminal misconduct of a corporation.

“Simplifying corporate fault laws will make it easier for companies and executives to understand and comply with their legal obligations,” NSW Attorney General Greg Smith said.

“Reducing the complexity of compliance is likely to result in time and cost savings for companies, which could ultimately lead to savings for consumers and better outcomes for shareholders.”

The changes to personal liability for corporate fault laws in NSW comply with new principles endorsed by the Council of Australia Governments (COAG).

“The principles are designed to bring national consistency to this area of the law and promote effective corporate compliance and risk management,” Mr Smith said.

The national principles include that:
  • a corporation should be held liable in the first instance when it contravenes a statutory requirement;
  • directors should not be liable for corporate fault as a matter of course or by blanket imposition of liability across an entire Act; and,
  • there must be compelling public policy reasons for a director to be held personally liable for a company’s wrongdoing, such as the potential for public harm.

“Retaining personal liability for corporate fault in limited circumstances will help ensure executive officers take seriously their corporate governance obligations,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said the national principles would not protect directors and executives who deliberately engage in criminal behaviour.


Privacy Commissioner launches Privacy Awareness Week (1 – 7 May) [Small PDF icon 85kb]

With Australians among the highest users of social networking sites in the world, privacy issues are becoming a serious concern, according to NSW acting Privacy Commissioner John McAteer.

Speaking at the Sydney launch of Privacy Awareness Week 2011, Mr McAteer said millions of people on social networking sites were putting their privacy at risk by failing to consider their profile security settings.

“While social networking is clearly a popular way for people to communicate, it has its risks in terms of privacy,” Mr McAteer said.

“Users of these sites need to check their profile settings to ensure that only the people they wish to communicate with have access to their personal communications.

“By taking the time to check and maintain their security settings, people can ensure they gain all of the benefits of social networking while minimising the risks.”

Privacy Awareness Week is an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA), which have prepared a series of privacy tips for safe social networking (attached).

As part of the event, Mr McAteer also announced the opening of APPA’s international survey seeking information on social networking and privacy, and the launch of a new web video illustrating what can go wrong.

“The Privacy Awareness Week ‘tips for safe social networking’ and the important message in the video and survey should help users to better understand the need for privacy,” he said.

“This is especially so in the online world where instances of personal and private information being shared and sometimes ‘going viral’ are daily occurrences.

“Unwarranted attention, sometimes leading to ‘cyber stalking’ and other crimes, is an all too common and increasing by-product of lax privacy security.”

For more information on Privacy Awareness Week or the social media survey, visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner NSW website: www.privacy.nsw.gov.au

Social networking – tips for protecting your privacy
  • Know the privacy policy and settings of the social networking sites you use.
  • Think about the information you share and how it's being used, eg, what might a future employer or partner think if they read it?
  • Remember, the internet lets your information be collected and shared easily. The harmless information you post could be added to the mix, creating a full profile about you. Who might see it?
  • Sharing information with just a few people doesn't stop it reaching a wider audience; be aware who might pass things on
  • Before you post and tag pictures of someone else, ask for their consent – and request that they do the same to you
  • Set up 'friend' groups to control the access different people in your life have to your personal details
  • Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know
  • Location based check-ins can be risky. Do you really want everyone to know that no one's home?


Sutherland Court reopens after largest renovation
Issued: Wednesday 27 April 2011

Sutherland Courthouse will resume sitting today following a $3.96 million renovation that Attorney General Greg Smith said would deliver better facilities to all members of the community, including victims of crime and people with a disability.

Mr Smith and Member for Heathcote Lee Evans today inspected the most substantial improvements made to the courthouse in its 23-year history.

“Almost every room on the ground floor has been improved and facilities have been added to make court services easier to access,” said Mr Smith.

Upon entering the building, court users will discover a new-look registry featuring a split-level counter to accommodate people using a wheelchair and a public internet kiosk to enable browsing of legal information online.

Domestic violence victims will have access to a private room equipped with a baby change station, tea and coffee facilities, a television and an accessible toilet.

A remote witness room, where sexual assault victims and other vulnerable people can testify to the court via Closed Circuit Television cameras, has been renovated to include a kitchenette and an accessible toilet.

“Victims courageous enough to seek justice are entitled to court facilities that will make them feel more comfortable,” said Mr Smith.

Other features of the renovation include:
  • a new Callover Court for short administrative matters;
  • improved facilities for prosecutors;
  • renovated offices for use by Legal Aid, Corrective Services, Justice Health and other agencies;
  • an air conditioning upgrade.
“The Sutherland Courthouse has long been among the busiest justice facilities outside of Sydney’s CBD and these comprehensive renovations will ensure it will meet the needs of the community and the justice system for many years to come,” said Mr Evans.


New online search tool revamps court lists in NSW courts [Small PDF icon 22kb]
Issued: Monday 18 April 2011

People attending the Supreme, District and Local Courts can now use a new online tool to search for listings of court matters.

The new online court list uses a search tool that enables lawyers, parties to a case and members of the public to type in search criteria and find court listing details, including the courtroom where the case will be heard, the time it is listed and the name of the judge or magistrate.

The search tool allows people to check their listing details online at a time that suits them, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The tool will reduce the need for people to contact court registries to check the details of their court appearance.

The new online court list contains listings two weeks in advance, which allows people involved in court cases to keep track of when they need to go to court and enables lawyers to better plan their work.

Paul Wiggins, a Parramatta-based criminal lawyer with 27 years of court experience, said the new online court list enabled him to represent his clients more effectively.

“Most importantly, I have advance notice of what’s going on so I can be properly prepared. When you start acting for a client after a matter has commenced, that’s when it’s very useful,” said Mr Wiggins.

”Lots of clients get their dates mixed up, because they’re usually terrified of the court process. The new court list solves a lot of those problems.”


The new online court list is updated several times a day.

Given the dynamic nature of court proceedings, people are encouraged to check the list the night before, or on the morning of, the court appearance. Last-minute list changes can occur as a result of a case being settled, or as a consequence of trials lasting for periods shorter or longer than expected.

The online court list for the Supreme, District and Local Courts enables searches by name, case number, location, date, court, jurisdiction, the title of the presiding officer and the type of listing. It is accessible via the Online Registry website, a newly created online services site which serves Supreme, District and Local Court users. Users can also access the new online court list from the websites of the Supreme, District and Local Courts.

To search online court lists, visit: www.onlineregistry.lawlink.nsw.gov.au
Media contact: Angus Huntsdale (02) 8061 9360


Law Reform Commission submissions invited for review of cheating at gambling

The NSW Law Reform Commission has released a consultation paper seeking submissions as part of its review of the laws relating to cheating at gambling.

The Consultation Paper considers whether the existing law adequately deals with cheating in relation to betting on sports and other events and gaming, and proposes a specific cheating offence in relation to sports and event betting.

The deadline for submissions is 6 May 2011.



Don't be a stranger on Neighbour Day

One of the most effective ways of avoiding a neighbourhood dispute is to introduce yourself to the people living next door, according to the state’s free mediation service, Community Justice Centres.

Community Justice Centres’ Director Natasha Mann said Neighbour Day on 27 March would provide people with a great opportunity to break the ice with neighbours, particularly those who remain virtual strangers, despite living on the same street.

“Neighbours who know each other often find it easier to discuss and peacefully resolve issues such as noise problems or disputes over fences, trees or the use of common facilities.”

Ms Mann said many people who seek help from Community Justice Centres in resolving disputes have not properly met their neighbour prior to entering the mediation room.

“There has been an increase in high-density city living, but unfortunately it seems the closer we are in proximity to our neighbours, the more distant we are in terms of getting to know them,” Ms Mann said.

“Developing a friendly relationship with your neighbour helps to build respect and tolerance, which is important when you are living on top of one-another and hearing each other’s noises.”

Neighbours who are finding it difficult to resolve a dispute can contact Community Justice Centres on 1800 990 777 to arrange a free mediation in their area.

“Mediations are conducted by two impartial, trained mediators who help people to understand each other’s point of view and to work together to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all,” Ms Mann said.

Community Justice Centres’ mediators achieve a success rate of more than 80 per cent.

The service, which is part of the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice, has been helping to resolve conflict between neighbours, families and work colleagues for 30 years.

Neighbour Day is Australia’s annual celebration of community. Neighbour Day events will be held in streets and backyards across the nation on Sunday, 27 March 2011.

Media Contact: Angus Huntsdale (02) 80 619 360



New Caselaw website makes it easier to check judgments online
An updated version of the NSW Caselaw website, with a new web address www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au, is now available.

NSW Caselaw has been redesigned to better meet the needs of the users of the website. The new website provides simpler navigation, a clearer structure and improved search functions making case law in NSW easier to find. If you have any comments, please use the
feedback form on the website.


Flooding affects court sittings in western NSW (19 - 20 January)
Issued: Wednesday 19 January 2011

Wilcannia Courthouse will be closed on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 January, due to rising river levels and a road closure.

All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.




Surrogacy Act 2010 - Commercial surrogacy arrangements entered into overseas before 1 March 2011
Issued: Friday 14 January 2011.

The Surrogacy Act 2010 will commence on 1 March 2011.

The Act makes it an offence for NSW residents to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas. However, regulations to be made under the Act will include an exemption for people who have, before the Act commences on 1 March 2011, entered into a written contract with an overseas clinic or agency for the clinic or agency to arrange a commercial surrogacy. Anything done overseas in connection with such arrangements, whether before or after 1 March 2011, will not be subject to the change in the law. This includes future contracts with the surrogate mother arising out of the original agreement with the clinic or agency.

This exemption recognises that people may have made a significant investment in a commercial surrogacy process before the Act commences and seeks to avoid an unfair disadvantage for people in this position.

However, any person considering entering into in an overseas surrogacy arrangement before 1 March 2011 should also consider the effect of the existing Part 1A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Part 1A provides that actions done overseas could be an offence under NSW law where they are prohibited by NSW law and where the action would “have an effect” in NSW.

Those affected by the Surrogacy Act 2010 may wish to seek legal advice about its impact on their individual circumstances.



Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (14 January)
Issued: Friday 14 January 2011

Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today.

Court registries at Maclean, Mungindi, Tenterfield and Wauchope are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work.

All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.



Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (13 January)
Issued: Thursday 13 January 2011

Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today.

Court registries at Boggabilla, Grafton, Maclean, Mungindi, Tenterfield and Walcha are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work.

It is anticipated that the floods will affect some court sittings in northern NSW later this week. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.

No NSW courts have been damaged by the floods.



Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (12 January)
Issued: Wednesday 12 January 2011

Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today.

Court registries at Grafton, Mungindi and Tenterfield are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work.

Maclean court sittings have been cancelled however the registry will be open for limited service.

It is anticipated that the floods will affect some court sittings in northern NSW later this week. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.

No NSW courts have been damaged by the floods.



Flooding affects court sittings in northern NSW (11 January)
Issued: 11 January 2011

Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today.

Court registries at Grafton, Inverell, Mungindi and Tenterfield are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work.

It is anticipated that the floods will affect some court sittings in northern NSW later this week. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.

No NSW courts have been damaged by the floods.






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