- Tuesday, 31 December 2013: Super Tribunal to start on 1 January 2014 [PDF, 100kb]
- Thursday, 19 December 2013: Two new Magistrates for NSW to come from the DPP [PDF, 108kb]
- Friday, 13 December 2013: Record Police numbers as 157 Police Officers graduate from the academy [PDF, 125kb]
- Thursday, 12 December 2013: Major upgrade for Springwood fire station completed [PDF, 103kb]
- Wednesday, 11 December 2013: New State Coroner for NSW [PDF, 106kb]
- Wednesday, 11 December 2013: New drug treatment graduates turn lives around [PDF, 109kb]
- Friday, 6 December 2013: Smartphone app to improve emergency response [PDF, 194kb]
- Friday, 6 December 2013: NSW and Victoria sign up to uniform legal profession regulation [PDF, 133kb]
- Thursday, 5 December 2013: Crime figures trending down or stable [PDF, 120kb]
- Tuesday, 3 December 2013: Media Statement - Parole Supervision [PDF, 94kb]
- Friday, 29 November 2013: A guide for working with new and emerging communities [PDF, 95kb]
- Wednesday, 27 November 2013: Positive role for social media at court [PDF, 101kb]
- Tuesday, 26 November 2013: AG meets international privacy commissioners [PDF, 106kb]
- Friday, 22 November 2013: Legal service provides record amount of free advice [PDF, 111kb]
- Thursday, 21 November 2013: NSW Parole Authority Chairman appointed [PDF, 109kb]
- Wednesday, 20 November 2013: New Information Commissioner for NSW [PDF, 109kb]
- Monday, 18 November 2013: Consorting appeal to go straight to the high court [PDF, 103kb]
- Thursday, 14 November 2013: Attorney General welcomes appeal [PDF, 99kb]
- Tuesday, 12 November 2013: Unlawful assault laws [PDF, 102kb]
- Tuesday, 12 November 2013: Sentencing Council report provided to joint committee [PDF, 106kb]
- Tuesday, 12 November 2013: Unlawful assault laws proposed [PDF, 107kb]
- Friday, 8 November 2013: Attorney General asks DPP to consider an appeal [PDF, 108kb]
- Wednesday, 6 November 2013: Safe Design Display Home unveiled at the Ponds [PDF, 102kb]
- Tuesday, 5 November 2013: New head for Department of Attorney General and Justice [PDF, 150kb]
- Sunday, 3 November 2013: Legal Aid helps bushfire victims with insurance claims [PDF,93kb]
- Wednesday, 30 October 2013: Better protection for sexual assault witnesses [PDF, 106kb]
- Thursday, 24 October 2013: Community urged to put their plans in black and white [PDF, 48kb]
- Wednesday, 23 October 2013: Making false allegations for APVOs becomes a crime [PDF, 109kb]
- Tuesday, 22 October 2013: Winners of Justice Awards honoured [PDF, 96kb]
- Sunday, 20 October 2013: Graffiti removal day spruces up the state [PDF, 138kb]
- Wednesday, 16 October 2013: President appointed for NSW super tribunal [PDF, 125kb]
- Friday, 4 October 2013: Daylight saving starts on Sunday [PDF, 70kb]
- Sunday, 29 September 2013: Adopted children to win identity rights [PDF, 101kb]
- Tuesday, 24 September 2013: Jamming trial to shut down contraband prison phones [PDF, 276.4kb]
- Thursday, 19 September 2013: Inspector of Custodial Services appointed [PDF, 110kb]
- Thursday, 12 September 2013: Law Reform Commission Report on Sentencing [PDF, 116kb]
- Thursday, 12 September 2013: New prison transforms offender operations in Western Sydney [PDF, 106kb]
- Wednesday, 11 September 2013: Industrial Relations Commission Transformed [PDF, 99kb]
- Thursday, 5 September 2013: Parole decision regarding Mohamed Sanoussi [PDF,99kb]
- Wednesday, 4 September 2013: Two silks appointed as District Court judges [PDF, 134kb]
- Monday, 2 September 2013: Reform of Forum Sentencing [PDF, 106kb]
- Friday, 28 June 2013: Parolee supervision increased [PDF, 123kb]
- Friday, 21 June 2013: James Wood to examine parole decision [PDF,108kb]
- Thursday, 20 June 2013: Criminal barrister appointed as a District Court Judge
- Thursday, 20 June 2013: Media statement regarding Hunters Hill attack [PDf, 185kb]
- Wednesday, 19 June 2013: Two new magistrates for NSW [PDF, 108kb]
- Tuesday, 18 June 2013: NSW invests in new courts and early intervention [PDF, 124kb]
- Saturday, 15 June 2013: NSW turns the screw on number plate thieves [PDF, 112kb]
- Saturday, 15 June 2013: NSW leads the country in new jury management system [PDF, 107kb]
- Saturday, 15 June 2013: New service to get offenders' lives on track [PDF, 147kb]
- Thursday, 13 June 2013: Prison dogs bring Diggers' trauma to heal [PDF, 145kb]
- Wednesday, 12 June 2013: New Commissioner of Victims Rights appointed [PDF, 107kb]
- Wednesday, 12 June 2013: QC appointed as a Supreme Court Judge of NSW [PDF, 105kb]
- Wednesday, 5 June 2013: New judge for the District Court of NSW [PDF, 108kb]
- Thursday, 30 May 2013: More effective help for Victims of Crime [PDF, 117kb]
- Wednesday, 29 May 2013: New Supreme Court judge for NSW [PDF, 139kb]
- Friday, 24 May 2013: Community heavyweights back graffiti removal day [PDF, 92kb]
- Wednesday, 22 May 2013: Bail Act passes Parliament [PDF, 104kb]
- Wednesday, 15 May 2013: UnitingCare Burnside awarded Youth on Track contract [PDF, 195kb]
- Monday, 13 May 2013: Attorney General launches Law Week [PDF, 124kb]
- Tuesday, 7 May 2013: New scheme to support victims of crime [PDF, 145kb]
- Thursday, 2 May 2013: $50,000 to redesign graffiti hotspot in Warrawong [PDF, 109kb]
- Tuesday, 30 April 2013: New bail bill to be introduced [PDF, 92kb]
- Monday, 29 April 2013: Standard non-parole periods [PDF, 103kb]
- Monday, 22 April 2013: Gillard wastes chance to crack down on gangs [PDF, 102kb]
- Tuesday, 16 April 2013: Bigger and better Liverpool court opens [PDF,122kb]
- Wednesday, 10 April 2013: Top Silk appointed Supreme Court Judge [PDF, 106kb]
- Tuesday, 9 April 2013: Commonwealth should prioritise fight against gangs [PDF, 105kb]
- Tuesday, 9 April 2013: First guide to Aboriginal wills [PDF, 109 kb]
- Friday, 5 April 2013: Daylight saving ends on Sunday [PDF, 256kb]
- Thursday, 4 April 2013: Upgrade of Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre [PDF,105kb]
- Wednesday, 27 March 2013: Leading barrister to be a Supreme Court Judge [PDF,144kb]
- Monday, 25 March 2013: Criminal organisations laws pass [PDF, 116kb]
- Monday, 25 March 2013: Inaugural NSW Information Commissioner to step down [PDF, 243kb]
- Wednesday, 20 March 2013: Evidence of silence laws pass parliament [PDF, 107kb]
- Wednesday, 13 March 2013: Magistrate Townsden to be a District Court judge [PDF, 107kb]
- Wednesday, 13 March 2013: Making trials more efficient [PDF, 108kb]
- Friday, 8 March 2013: New Law Reform Commission references [PDF, 119kb] LRC terms of reference [PDF, 13kb]
- Wednesday, 6 March 2013: $50,000 to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in Nowra [PDF, 29kb]
- Thursday, 28 February 2013: Young people missing a loved one to meet in Parramatta [PDF, 230kb]
- Thursday, 28 February 2013: Faster ADVOs to ensure safety of victims [PDF, 103kb]
- Thursday, 28 February 2013: Making criminals pay for court [PDF, 108kb]
- Wednesday, 27 February 2013: Early intervention to keep Youth on Track [PDF, 224kb]
- Friday, 22 February 2013: Laws to improve sentencing of young killers [PDF, 161kb]
- Wednesday, 20 February 2013: Attorney announces Supreme Court appointments [PDF, 107kb]
- Tuesday, 19 February 2013: NSW to simplify disputes over Company Title units [PDF, 119kb]
- Tuesday, 19 February 2013: Status quo for technology in court [PDF, 181kb]
- Thursday, 14 February 2013: Third Drug Court for NSW opens In Sydney [PDF,117kb]
- Tuesday, 12 February 2013: New Cessnock maximum security prison officially opened [PDF, 280kb]
- Saturday, 9 February 2013: Decision on Bowraville Application [PDF, 35kb]
- Wednesday, 6 February 2013: South Coast solicitor appointed as a magistrate [PDF, 105kb]
- Wednesday, 6 February 2013: Dubbo barrister appointed as a magistrate [PDF,118kb]
Super Tribunal to start on 1 January 2014 [PDF, 100kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Acting Minister for Justice Michael Gallacher today announced that the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) will start on 1 January 2014.
“The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal is a one-stop shop for almost all state tribunals making it easier for people in NSW to access the services they need,” Mr Gallacher said.
“NCAT enables these services to exist as a network, rather than in isolation, which will improve their quality, consistency and transparency. People will also have access to an internal appeals panel, which will provide quick and accessible reviews of most tribunal decisions.”
The government has integrated 22 of the State’s tribunals and bodies into a new overarching tribunal that will provide a simple, quick and effective process for resolving disputes, supervising occupations and reviewing executive action.
Harnessing the expertise of the State’s existing tribunals, NCAT operates four specialist divisions:
- Consumer and Commercial
- Administrative and Equal Opportunity and
Across all types of matters, NCAT is committed to: timely, fair, high-quality decision-making; maintaining current levels of service including retaining specialist expertise and services; and continuous improvement in service delivery.
In October last year the government announced the appointment of the Hon Justice Robertson Wright as a Supreme Court judge and as the inaugural President of NCAT. Justice Wright was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on 25 October 2013. On the same date, he began a five-year term as NCAT President.
“If you have lodged an application with an existing tribunal before 1 January 2014 and it has not yet been heard, the application does not have to be re-lodged at NCAT,” Mr Gallacher said.
“If you are making an application after 1 January 2014 you will be making an application to NCAT.
“Tribunal services will continue to be delivered in multiple locations with registries located across metropolitan and regional NSW,” Mr Gallacher said.
Further information can be found at: http://www.ncat.nsw.gov.au.
NCAT can be contacted by phone on: 1300 006 228.
Two new Magistrates for NSW to come from the DPP [PDF, 108kb]
Issued: Thursday, 19 December 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointments of deputy senior crown prosecutor Peter Barnett SC and DPP solicitor Kate Thompson as magistrates of the Local Court of NSW and as industrial magistrates.
Mr Barnett and Ms Thompson have worked for the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for most of their careers.
For more than a decade, Mr Barnett has served as the deputy senior crown prosecutor at Newcastle and has been responsible for the management of 19 crown prosecutors attached to the regional offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Mr Barnett is a seasoned criminal barrister who has prosecuted some of the most difficult and complex trials to be heard during circuit sittings of the Supreme and District Courts,” Mr Smith said.
“He has also worked as an educator and mentor within the legal profession, providing guidance and advice for DPP lawyers in the areas of advocacy, criminal law, evidence, practice and procedure in the Local, District and Supreme Courts.”
Mr Barnett has lectured in criminal law at the University of Newcastle and given presentations to NSW Police, sexual assault counsellors, medical practitioners and community groups. He has performed almost all of this work on a pro bono basis.
Mr Barnett was admitted to the Bar in 1980 and appointed a crown prosecutor in 1988. He was appointed as a Senior Counsel in 2007.
Ms Thompson has been a lawyer for 14 years, working primarily as a Local Court advocate for the DPP.
“Ms Thompson has appeared on countless occasions in the Local Court in relation to bail applications, committal and summary hearings and sentencing proceedings,” Mr Smith said.
“Her experience in the Local Court and her understanding of its processes will no doubt be of great assistance when she takes her position on the bench.”
During her time at the DPP, Ms Thompson has also appeared in the District and Supreme Court, and worked as a senior lawyer at the Drug Court. Most recently, she was a senior professional assistant within the Director’s Chambers.
Ms Thompson has taken a number of secondments during her career. She worked for the Criminal Law Review Division of the NSW Attorney General’s Department in 2001 and as a Senior Legal Officer at the Health Care Complaints Commission between 2006 and 2008.
Mr Barnett and Ms Thompson will be sworn in as magistrates and industrial magistrates on 24 February 2014.
Record Police numbers as 157 Police Officers graduate from the academy [PDF, 125kb]
Issued: Friday, 13 December 2013
Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services Greg Smith SC, today joined Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione in welcoming 157 new officers from the Goulburn Police Academy.
The 157 students from Class 320 will be allocated to Local Area Commands across New South Wales from Monday.
Mr Smith said today is an important day for the men and women who have worked very hard over the past few months.
“This Government has already added an additional 420 officers to the NSW Police Force.”
“Police numbers are now at a record high, with the authorised strength sitting at 16,226.”
“The NSW Government is commitment to boosting the authorised strength of the NSW Police Force by 859 police officers, to reach 16,665 in August 2015.”
“Today’s attesting class is another step towards delivering on that target,” Mr Smith said.
“In today’s class more than half of the graduates will be going to commands across the North and South West.”
“Dedicating their working lives to the safety and protection of their community is unique and the career they are embarking on today will be as challenging as it will be rewarding,” Mr Smith said.
These students have come from all walks of life including 16 who were born overseas, three who are aged 41 years or older, and five students who are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.
“This Government continues to increase police numbers and provide police with the powers they need to keep the community safe,” Mr Smith said.
The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has:
“These officers will now join one of the largest and most respected Police Forces in the world and the Government will continue to invest in it.”
- recruited and trained an additional 420 Police Officers;
- legislated to give Police the greater power to ban individuals from owning firearms and increased search powers for firearms including targeting criminal hang outs;
- strengthened consorting offences to stop criminals associating;
- tightened the supply of ammunition to help prevent it falling into the hands of criminals;
- passed tough anti-outlaw motorcycle gang laws which declares them criminal organisations;
- reformed the Crime Commission to bolster their focus on organised crime;
- introduced a licensing scheme with stringent probity checks for owners and operators of tattoo parlours so they can no longer be fronts for criminal activity;
- banned bikies wearing their colours in Kings Cross venues;
- passed new laws to stop criminals from putting forward ambush defences;
- reformed the security industry to stop organised crime involvement in the industry;
- rolled out Automatic Number Plate Recognition Technology (ANPR) to quickly identify criminals on our roads;
- introduced mandatory life sentences for the murder of a Police Officer; and
- rolled out 25 new Mobile Police Command Vehicles to have ‘Police Stations on wheels’ moving around the community.
“I congratulate the men and women graduating today, who have chosen a selfless profession and I wish them luck as they begin their future careers on Monday,” Mr Smith said.
Major upgrade for Springwood fire station completed [PDF, 103kb]
Issued: Thursday, 12 December 2013
The NSW Government today unveiled the newly completed $1.5 million upgrade of Springwood Fire Station in the Blue Mountains.
Celebrating at the official opening was Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services Greg Smith SC, Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins and Member for the Blue Mountains Roza Sage.
“The NSW Government is committed to providing our firefighters with the best possible equipment and amenities so they can get on with the job they do best,” Mr Smith said.
“In recent months we have seen firefighters across the state and the nation help defend the Blue Mountains community from major bush fires.”
“It was my great pleasure to be at Springwood today to celebrate this major investment in firefighting resources and I congratulate Roza Sage for her tireless campaigning to ensure the Blue Mountains has the resources it needs.” Mr Smith said.
Ms Sage said Springwood Fire Station, built in 1987, has now been brought up to modern standards.
“The improved facilities will provide a bigger and better base for the 39 firefighters who protect our community from fires, accidents, chemical spills and other emergencies.
“It will boost their ability to continue their work in keeping our community safe and protected from fires and other emergencies.
“I will continue to work and deliver for the people of the Blue Mountains.” Ms Sage said.
Commissioner Mullins said the upgrade included an expanded engine bay, more equipment storage and extended staff areas to accommodate the 21 permanent firefighters who have joined the 18 retained (on-call) firefighters at the station.
“The station has undergone major renovations with a new, two-storey building extension at the rear with expanded staff accommodation including a training room, an office, fitness facilities and much more,” Commissioner Mullins said.
“There’s also improved equipment storage for uniforms and breathing apparatus.” Commissioner Mullins said.
New State Coroner for NSW [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Magistrate Michael Barnes as the State Coroner of NSW.
Mr Smith said Magistrate Barnes was highly qualified for the position, having served as the State Coroner of Queensland for a decade.
“Magistrate Barnes conducted inquests in Queensland that led to breakthroughs in cold case deaths and made coronial recommendations that have helped save lives,” Mr Smith said.
“Some of his cases attracted national attention, including the inquest into the disappearance of Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe and the probe into three deaths relating to the Rudd government’s home insulation scheme.”
Mr Smith said Magistrate Barnes had also played a pivotal role in improving coronial processes in Australia.
“After leading a review of Queensland’s Coroner’s Act in 2008, Magistrate Barnes was involved in reviewing coronial legislation and practices in Western Australia and Tasmania,” Mr Smith said.
“Earlier this year, he was involved in the design of the National Judicial College of Australia’s training program for coroners.”
After completing his 10 year term as Queensland State Coroner in July this year, he moved to NSW and in August he was sworn in as a magistrate of the Local Court of NSW and as an industrial magistrate.
Prior to joining the judiciary, Magistrate Barnes was Head of the School of Justice Studies at the Queensland University of Technology. He has also worked as chief officer of the Complaint Section of the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission, principal solicitor of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and as a solicitor and partner in a small legal firm.
Magistrate Barnes will begin his five year term as NSW State Coroner on 6 January 2014. He will take over from Magistrate Hugh Dillon who has been acting in the position since Magistrate Mary Jerram retired as State Coroner last month.
New drug treatment graduates turn lives around [PDF, 109kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Inmates committed to overcoming their addictions and gaining new life skills graduated yesterday from an innovative NSW prison program aimed at cutting reoffending risk.
Five participants graduated from the Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program, while another 47 were presented with trade qualifications they have gained in custody while undertaking the program.
Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin praised the participants of the program, which was launched early last year at John Morony Correctional Centre near Windsor.
“The five graduates have made a major leap in tackling their drug and alcohol problems. Upon their release from custody, they will be better prepared to make good life choices – that includes avoiding crime,’’ said Mr Smith.
“I also congratulate those 47 participants who have completed traineeships in engineering and clerical work and qualifications in horticulture and agriculture. They will be better equipped to gain and keep jobs upon their release and after completing the treatment component of the program.”
Mr Smith said the program is a major NSW Government initiative that offers a full-time, custody-based therapeutic centre to treat inmates with drug and alcohol addictions, to reduce the risk of them reoffending.
“This is a unique partnership between Corrective Services NSW and the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network to address primary health and the mental health needs of offenders,’’ he said.
Mr Severin said offenders eligible for the program are sentenced inmates with a documented history of problematic drug and/or alcohol use, with at least 12 months to go before their possible release from custody.
“Participants undertake a range of programs – excellent therapeutic treatment and very strong education, vocation and employment programs on site,’’ he said.
“Inmates receive extra visits and activities for positive achievements throughout the program so that those who perform and show commitment are rewarded.”
“Pre-release and post-release support of offenders is essential to the program’s success – we engage with a range of community and government agencies to enhance reintegration opportunities.’’
Mr Smith said the program is being implemented over several stages in the NSW correctional system. Since February last year, 124 beds have opened at John Morony Correctional Centre.
“Another two units will be opened next year at the centre, resulting in a total of 248 beds before the final stage is implemented in 2014,’’ he said.
“This will provide an extra 50 female beds within Dillwynia Correctional Centre, bringing the total number of participants to 298 when the program is fully implemented.’’
Smartphone app to improve emergency response [PDF, 194kb]
Issued: Friday, 6 December 2013
Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and NSW Attorney-General, and Acting Police and Emergency Services Minister Greg Smith SC, today launched the Emergency+ smartphone app at the City of Sydney Fire Station.
When activated, the Emergency+ app provides users with their GPS reference which they can report to an emergency call taker to pinpoint physical location.
“More than 65 per cent of calls to Triple Zero are from mobile phones,” Mr Keenan said.
“Sometimes mobile phone users are not aware of their physical location – making it difficult for emergency call operators to dispatch emergency services.
“This app helps callers tell emergency operators their location as determined by their smartphone’s GPS capability.”
Mr Smith acknowledged the work of NSW Fire and Rescue and the national Triple Zero Awareness Work Group which led the project.
“This project is a yet another example of how our emergency services agencies are embracing new technologies to improve emergency response,” Mr Smith said.
The app also contains the emergency contact numbers and a short explanation of when to call non-emergency numbers such as the Police Assistance Line (131 444) and the SES national number (132 500). This is to help members of the public dial the correct number and reduce the number of calls to the Triple Zero (000) service that should be directed to another service.
The Emergency+ app is free and available on iOS and Android devices through the Google Play store and the Apple App Store.
The development of the app was funded by the Australian Government through a National Emergency Management Project grant.
NSW and Victoria sign up to uniform legal profession regulation [PDF, 133kb]
Issued: Friday, 6 December 2013
The Victorian and New South Wales governments have agreed on a uniform scheme for regulation of the legal profession in their two states.
Attorney-General for Victoria Robert Clark, and Attorney-General for NSW Greg Smith SC, yesterday signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on a Legal Profession Uniform Framework for the new scheme.
The scheme will create a common legal services market across the two jurisdictions, which together house almost three quarters of Australia’s lawyers.
Other jurisdictions will be encouraged to join the scheme in future, and will be able to do so without the need for changes to the framework or legislation.
The scheme originated in a COAG process in 2009 that sought uniform national regulation for the legal profession.
Victoria and NSW have now agreed upon substantial changes to improve the original COAG proposal in order to avoid duplication of regulatory bodies and functions, halve the costs of the scheme and decentralise its administration.
The signing of the IGA has been welcomed by both Attorneys-Generals.
“This reform has been a long time coming and I am pleased NSW and Victoria have today signed this agreement. This is fantastic news for consumers and lawyers alike,” Mr Smith said.
“We look forward to kicking off the uniform scheme next year, and to housing the administrative bodies in Sydney. I also acknowledge the benefits this scheme will bring to practitioners in border towns, who will be able to practise more easily on both sides of the NSW/Victorian border.
“I also thank the Law Society of NSW for their generous contribution to the start-up costs of the scheme and their leadership in helping to make these reforms a reality.”
“The changes to the scheme negotiated between Victoria and NSW mean the scheme will have much lower costs and provide far greater autonomy for each jurisdiction in how their local regulators are structured,” Mr Clark said.
“However, at the same time the uniform scheme means that lawyers and clients in NSW and Victoria will operate under a single seamless set of laws, rules and policies.
“We believe this revised structure will make the uniform scheme much more affordable and attractive for other jurisdictions, and we hope that other jurisdictions will decide to join the scheme once they have had the chance to see it in operation.”
The scheme will see the establishment of a new Legal Services Council with members from each participating jurisdiction. The Council will have responsibility for recommending any future changes to the Uniform Framework, and for making Uniform Rules and, along with the Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation, issuing guidelines under the scheme.
A statutory Admissions Committee is also to be established, which will include judicial representatives nominated by the NSW and Victorian Chief Justices. The Committee will be responsible for developing the Admissions Rules and advising the Council on matters relating to admissions.
Local regulatory bodies including professional associations and legal services commissioners will continue to carry out regulation in each jurisdiction in accordance with the uniform laws, rules and policies.
The new arrangements will make it simpler for lawyers to do business within and across state borders, will strengthen the standing of Australian lawyers in international legal services markets, and will improve protections for clients.
Under the uniform arrangements:
Each jurisdiction will fund a share of the ongoing and start-up costs of the scheme and the Law Society of NSW has also contributed to the start-up costs of the scheme.
- Clients will benefit from a new requirement that law firms may only charge legal costs that are fair and reasonable.
- Law firms will benefit from a single set of rules governing matters such as the requirements for maintaining and auditing trust accounts, continuing professional development requirements and billing requirements.
- Firms seeking to engage foreign lawyers to undertake specialised legal work will benefit from a simplified process for admitting foreign lawyers to practise Australian law.
- Smaller firms and sole practitioners will benefit from a short, standard-form of costs disclosure which may be provided as an alternative to full costs disclosure in matters where total costs are not likely to exceed $3,000. As is presently the case, no costs disclosure will be required for matters worth less than $750.
- The scheme clarifies that in-house practitioners may act for related entities.
- Prospective lawyers will benefit from a single set of admissions requirements.
As the ‘host’ jurisdiction for the uniform law, Victoria intends to introduce the Uniform Legal Profession Law to its Parliament with the law to be applied in NSW through subsequent NSW legislation. NSW will host the administrative bodies established by the uniform scheme.
The scheme has target commencement date of 1 July 2014.
Crime figures trending down or stable [PDF, 120kb]
Issued: Thursday, 5 December 2013
Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services Greg Smith SC today welcomed the latest crime statistics which shows 16 of the 17 major offence categories are going down or remain stable.
“The figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that eight of the major crime categories have had a significant downward trend in the same period,” Mr Smith said.
“The decreases across the major crime categories are a win for police and a win for communities across NSW.”
“Across NSW, over the five years to September 2013, violent offences have decreased on average each year by 1.9%,” Mr Smith said.
Some of the major crime categories that have shown a downward trend include:
“The report also shows that shooting incidents have fallen dramatically this year,” he said.
· non-domestic assaults - down 3.8%
· robbery without a weapon - down 8.0%
· break and enter dwelling - down 6.7%
· break and enter non-dwelling - down 7.7%
· motor vehicle theft - down 11.2%
· steal from motor vehicle - down 3.9%
· steal from person - down 10.8%
· malicious damage to property - down 6.4%
“It is significant to note that shooting offences in NSW remain stable, when measured across the two, five and ten year periods leading up to September 2013.”
“These statistics highlight how police are doing a fantastic job targeting people associated with gun-crime and are getting in their faces every day. “
“Police are working around the clock to target gun crime and to ensure it doesn’t reach the record high of 360 shootings in a year under the former Labor Government.”
“The only crime category showing an upward trend is fraud which has increased due to credit card fraud.”
“The NSW Government is committed to driving down crime and we’ll continue to work hard and resource police with what they need.”
“These figures reflect the ongoing hard work of the NSW Police Force backed by the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government,” Mr Smith said.
Media Statement - Parole Supervision [PDF, 94kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Media claims that parolees are monitored at home for only eight weeks after their release from jail are completely wrong.
All parolees are supervised throughout their parole period.
In May, under its new Community Corrections Division, Corrective Services NSW introduced improved minimum standards for supervision of community-based offenders including parolees.
The new model requires that regardless of their risk and consequence rating, all parolees must have an eight-week period of specified high-frequency supervision upon their release from custody regardless of their actual risk rating, which may be low.
After that initial period, they are supervised based on their individual risk rating for the duration of their parole period, within the required minimum standards. Those who pose the highest risk receive the highest level of supervision – they are not left unmonitored as claimed by the state opposition.
The first eight weeks require an elevated number of contacts with new parolees, such as face-to-face meetings and home visits, by Community Corrections officers. This intensive supervision and monitoring is designed to test the offender’s ability to adapt to lawful community life in the early post-release stages.
The new standards strengthened and standardised the regime for supervising and monitoring of offenders in the community – particularly high-risk offenders.
For the first time, all offenders are regularly assessed not only for their risk of reoffending, but the impact their type of reoffending would have on the community.
These risk and consequence levels dictate a minimum standard of contacts Community Corrections staff must have with an offender.
Initial data shows this new model has increased supervision of high-risk sex and violent offenders including parolees, over the previous supervision regime.
Overall contacts with the highest-risk serious offenders have increased by 15 per cent and third party verifications to check information provided by these offenders has increased by 32 per cent. Overall contacts with sex offenders within the highest-risk category have increased by 22 per cent.
A guide for working with new and emerging communities [PDF, 95kb]
Issued: Friday, 29 November 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC has launched a guide to help organisations work more effectively with people from new and emerging communities.
The guide provides background information about newly arrived communities from Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Iraq and African countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.
"This practical guide is aimed at government and non-government agencies that work with people from these communities. The information will help lawyers and other frontline workers understand the cultural background, traditions and experiences of newly arrived people who seek their help", Mr Smith said.
“It will help workers, who may feel challenged by the complexity and diversity of their clients, to gain an appreciation and understanding of their backgrounds. It will help them to communicate more effectively and provide better services and support to these clients,” he said.
"We expect this guide to be particularly useful to frontline workers who are assisting clients deal with everyday problems such as housing, debt, consumer and family law issues."
Mr Dominello said: “I commend Legal Aid for this initiative because we want all NSW public servants and NGO employees to appreciate the cultural sensitivities of newly arrived migrants and the circumstances which led them to Australia.”
“We want to ensure that migrants from Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierre Leone and other emerging communities get adequate access to NSW government services and community resource centres. Providing new country reference material to staff will help them to improve their interactions with newly arrived migrants,” Mr Dominello said.
Mr Smith said the guide presents a myriad of information in a single collection, making it a very handy resource. “It also provides a list of useful community contacts to assist with referrals and tips on effective communication,” he said.
The guide was developed by Legal Aid NSW with assistance from the Community Migrant Resource Centre and African Women's Australia Inc as well as Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre, Macarthur Diversity Services and the Iranian Community Organisation.
The factsheets in the guide may be downloaded from the Legal Aid NSW website (follow the link to “culturally diverse people”).
Positive role for social media at court [PDF, 101kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 27 November 2013
The enormous community interest in the verdict in a Supreme Court case in Sydney today has shown the positive side of social media, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
“Twitter provided an opportunity for people to be informed not just about a very tragic case which clearly captured the public imagination, but also about the justice process more broadly,” he said.
“Tweets have highlighted the thorough reasoning required from a judge and complimented the meticulous and considered fashion in which the decision was outlined.”
“This case, and its coverage in social and traditional media, offers the community a chance to engage with the court system and improve their understanding.”
Reports from the courtroom were coming in so regularly that the topic was trending on Twitter in Sydney, while the verdict was also widely reported in other media.
“We are often ready to criticise social media when they get it wrong in reporting on criminal matters, but from what I have seen, today seems to have been a good example of broadly respectful and responsible reporting which helped educate the public.”
“There clearly is a role for all media to report accurately and fully, in a way that helps increase the public confidence in the justice system,” he said.
“I would also encourage anyone interested in reading the full verdict – and other court decisions – to visit the Caselaw website on www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au.”
AG meets international privacy commissioners [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC met with Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners from throughout the world last night as part of the 40th Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum.
Attending the forum were representatives from a diverse range of countries, including Mexico, Korea, Macau, Japan and Singapore, as well as representatives from New Zealand and Australian jurisdictions.
Speaking at a function hosted by the NSW Privacy Commissioner Dr Elizabeth Coombs, Mr Smith acknowledged the importance of APPA’s role in raising awareness about privacy issues both in Australia and internationally.
“As we know from the recent community attitudes survey conducted by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, privacy is a central issue in the minds of the public, particularly with regard to online and social media environments,” Mr Smith said.
“This is reflected in the level of enquiries to the NSW Information and Privacy Commission, which has seen an increase in enquiries of 300% over the past four years.”
Mr Smith commended APPA delegates on their annual Privacy Awareness Week initiative, which will be held from 4 to 11 May next year.
The week is celebrated internationally each year and aims to raise community awareness of the importance of protecting personal privacy.
The Commissioners are in Sydney for the two-day APPA Forum, being held in Sydney today and tomorrow.
The forum will see representatives from up to 16 privacy authorities in the Asia Pacific region discuss a variety of privacy-related topics.
For more information about the Information and Privacy Commission and privacy in NSW, visit www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.
Legal service provides record amount of free advice [PDF, 111kb]
Issued: Friday, 22 November 2013
LawAccess NSW provided a record amount of free legal advice to disadvantaged people in 2012-13 following strong demand for its services among Aboriginal communities and in rural, regional and remote areas, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
Mr Smith this week joined LawAccess NSW director Julianne Evans in marking one of the most significant achievements in the service’s 12 year history.
LawAccess answered nearly 200,000 phone calls in 2012-13 and conducted 22,000 legal advice sessions.
“The legal advice has helped a range of disadvantaged community members, including people who are homeless, have a disability, are Aboriginal or are from isolated areas where no face-to-face legal services are available,” Mr Smith said.
“The amount of over-the-phone legal advice given by LawAccess in 2012-13 was unprecedented for the service and almost 60 per cent of the sessions were for people in regional, rural and remote locations.”
The most common legal advice enquiries related to family law, domestic violence, debt, employment and driving offences.
LawAccess provided 1832 free legal advice sessions to Aboriginal people in 2012-13 – up almost 30 per cent on the previous year.
“Staff from LawAccess have been visiting Aboriginal communities, including 38 regional outreach visits, as part of a three-year strategy to raise awareness about its services and improve access to justice for Indigenous people,” Mr Smith said.
Funded by the Public Purpose Fund, Legal Aid and the NSW Government, the free legal information service has assisted more than 1.7 million people since it was established in 2001.
“LawAccess NSW is a great starting point for anyone with a legal problem and in situations where it can’t provide legal advice, it will offer referrals to other agencies that can give further assistance,” Mr Smith said.
“The service works closely with Legal Aid NSW, the Aboriginal Legal Service, Community Legal Centres and the Law Society.”
Anyone in NSW needing legal information can call LawAccess on 1300 888 529 or visit www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au. People who require an interpreter should call 131 450 and ask for LawAccess NSW. People using a telephone typewriter should call 1300 889 529 or contact LawAccess via the National Relay Service.
LawAccessNSW also operates LawAssist (www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/lawassist), a website which helps self represented litigants prepare for court.
NSW Parole Authority Chairman appointed [PDF, 109kb]
Issued: Thursday, 21 November 2013
One of Australia’s eminent former judges and most respected legal minds, retired Justice James Wood AO QC, has been appointed the new Chair of the NSW State Parole Authority.
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Justice Wood to replace outgoing Parole Authority Chair, Mr Ian Pike AM.
“I am delighted to welcome Justice Wood to this critically important role within the NSW criminal justice system,” Mr Smith said.
“At the same time I thank the departing Chair, Mr Pike and Alernate Chair, Judge Terence Christie QC for their loyal and skilful service to the Authority in two very challenging and demanding roles.”
“As a former Supreme Court Justice, Chief Judge and Royal Commissioner, Justice Wood is extremely well qualified to lead the Parole Authority.”
“He brings to the role an exceptional understanding of both the criminal justice and correctional systems and has a deep interest and commitment to building innovation and integrity into administrative systems.”
James Wood was a Justice of the NSW Supreme Court from 1984 to 2005 and Chief Judge, Common Law Division from 1997 to 2005.
He was Commissioner for the 1994 to 1997 Royal Commission into Corruption into the NSW Police Service and into Paedophilia – an inquiry that began tearing away at the secrecy surrounding paedophilia and exposing notorious sex offenders including Philip Harold Bell and Robert 'Dolly' Dunn.
Justice Wood was Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission from 2005 to 2007, led the 2008 NSW Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services after allegations around child deaths. He is a current member of the federal Customs Reform Board established after corruption allegations within the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. He also currently chairs the NSW Sentencing Council.
Justice Wood said he would resign his position as Chair of the NSW Law Reform Commission at a date to be agreed, to take up his new three-year appointment with the State Parole Authority in mid-December. He will continue to be involved in the Commission’s references on Criminal Appeals and on Guilty Pleas. He will retain his position as Chair of the Sentencing Council.
“I regard the decision to grant or refuse parole and to determine the ongoing supervision requirements for offenders to be an extremely important part of our criminal justice system,” Justice Wood said.
“I look forward to working with my fellow members of the Authority, the very capable secretariat staff and criminal justice leaders including the Commissioner of Corrective Services NSW, to provide exemplary service and protection to our community.”
Mr Smith also announced the three-year appointment of Acting NSW District Court Judge David Freeman as a judicial member and Alternate Chair of the State Parole Authority, replacing Judge Christie.
Judge Freeman began his judicial career in 1980 in the Workers Compensation Division and was appointed to the District Court in 1986 presiding over mainly criminal matters. He retired from the bench in 2011 and was later appointed as an Acting District Court Judge and Acting Supreme Court Judge.
Acting Judge Paul Cloran has been reappointed as Deputy Chair of the Authority for a further three years.
Justice Wood is a current member of the Domestic Violence Death Review team and a member of the Human Research Ethics Committee for the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.
He has been leading the Law Reform Commission’s current references on Criminal Appeals and on Early Guilty Pleas and also the NSW Sentencing Council reference on Standard Non Parole Periods.
In recent years Justice Wood led separate Law Reform Commission References on Sentencing, Jury Directions in Criminal Trials, Cheating at Gambling (Match Fixing) and Criminal Complicity. He was also part of the Division of the Commission dealing with Bail Reform, Penalty Notices regarding criminal offending, and People with Cognitive and Mental Impairments in the Criminal Justice System.
The Government is still awaiting the findings of the Commission’s reference into parole, which will examine ways to ensure the system works effectively to protect community safety and reintegrate offenders into society to reduce the risk of reoffending.
New Information Commissioner for NSW [PDF, 109kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Elizabeth Tydd as the NSW Information Commissioner.
“Ms Tydd will be an independent advocate for transparency and accountability within the state’s government agencies, universities and local councils,” Mr Smith said.
“She is well qualified for the role, having worked at a senior executive level in government agencies and independent authorities and been involved in developing transparent policies, resolving disputes and making decisions that upheld the rights of the community.”
The Information Commissioner champions the community’s right to information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW). This includes advising agencies about the proactive release of government information, monitoring their compliance and investigating complaints.
“Community members whose applications for information are refused by government agencies, councils or universities can contact the Information Commissioner and seek a review of the decision,” Mr Smith said.
Prior to her appointment as Information Commissioner, Ms Tydd was Executive Director of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.
In a career spanning more than two decades, Ms Tydd has served as Assistant Commissioner (Compliance and Legal Group), Office of Fair Trading and as Deputy Chairperson of the Consumer Trader & Tenancy Tribunal - the largest tribunal in NSW.
She has also performed the role of Deputy President and Arbitrator at the Workers Compensation Commission.
Ms Tydd is an accredited mediator who holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Laws from the University of Technology, Sydney and is currently undertaking a Certificate in Governance,Governance Institute of Australia.
Ms Tydd will begin her five-year appointment as Information Commissioner on 23 December 2013.
For more information about the role of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commission, visit www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.
Consorting appeal to go straight to the high court [PDF, 103kb]
Issued: Monday, 18 November 2013
The Attorney General Greg Smith SC has intervened in a legal challenge to the state’s consorting laws to speed up a resolution of the case.
The consorting laws impose a penalty of up to three years imprisonment for convicted offenders who continue to consort with other offenders after receiving an official police warning.
“These laws are part of the governments crack down on criminal groups including bikie gangs, but they are being held up by a legal challenge. So I have decided to intervene to get this issue resolved more quickly,” Mr Smith said.
“I am confident that we have a strong case and the laws will withstand the challenge.”
“These laws are an important tool for police and we need to do what we can to get this challenge resolved,” he said.
“That offenders are challenging these laws is a sign that they consider them a powerful tool for police which will make their life difficult.”
The challenge by three people charged under the laws was due to be heard in the Court of Appeal earlier this month, but was put on hold to await the outcome of another High Court case which deals with a similar constitutional point.
The Attorney General has now decided to intervene and apply for the case to be heard by the High Court.
“We cannot afford to have this challenge sit in limbo and delay the effective use of our consorting laws.”
The Attorney General used his right to seek removal to the High Court under s40 of the Judiciary Act 1903, after receiving legal advice.
The High Court is yet to decide how it will deal with the application.
“The consorting challenge was always likely to end up in the High Court and going straight there, should resolve the issue much sooner.”
Attorney General welcomes appeal [PDF, 99kb]
Issued: Thursday, 14 November 2013
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, welcomes the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal the sentence given to Kieran Loveridge for the manslaughter of Thomas Kelly on the grounds that it is manifestly inadequate.
He also welcomes the Director’s decision to seek a Guideline Judgment from the Court of Criminal Appeal.
Since the matter is now subject to an appeal it is not appropriate to comment further.
Unlawful assault laws [PDF, 102kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 12 November 2013
The proposed new law for unlawful assaults will create a new stand-alone offence which will remove ambiguity about what the community expects for these types of assaults, said Attorney General Greg Smith SC.
There has been some commentary comparing the proposed maximum penalty of 20 years and the maximum penalty for manslaughter of 25 years. However, such a direct comparison is misleading because it is not comparing like with like.
“This new law removes the clutter that applies to all the other types of manslaughter, which covers a wide range of offences ranging from medical negligence to long term neglect of a child leading to their death,” Mr Smith said.
“I am proposing a new specific law only for these types of deadly assaults.”
“With this new offence there will be no ambiguity. It sends a clear message to the courts that this is a very serious offence, and they should head towards the top end of the 20 year scale.”
“This is what the community expects.”
“This will send a strong message to drunken idiots, that their violent assaults are serious crimes, not a fun thing to do on a drunken night out. This behaviour will not be tolerated and they can expect a very heavy penalty.”
Sentencing Council report provided to joint committee [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 12 November 2013
The interim report of the Sentencing Council on standard non parole periods was delivered to the joint Parliamentary Committee on sentencing of child sexual assault offenders, Attorney General Greg Smith SC has said.
The committee was established in August to inquire into and report on whether current sentencing options for perpetrators of child sexual assault remain effective, and whether greater consistency in sentencing and improving public confidence in the judicial system could be achieved through alternative sentencing options.
“This committee reflects public disquiet about the level of sentences imposed for these types of offendences, which are among the most despicable crimes and often leave victims with life-long trauma,” Mr Smith said.
The interim report on their application to child sexual assault offences was prepared to inform the work of the committee, and forms part of a larger project.
“It recommends broadening the range of further child sex offences included in the Standard Non Parole Period scheme,” Mr Smith said.
“It also tackles the difficult issue of trying to find a way of producing a more coherent and consistent scheme by relating the proposed standard non parole period to the maximum possible term of imprisonment.”
Currently, the standard non parole period for different offences varies from 21.4% to 80% of the maximum term without any clear logic. The report proposes two possible methods of setting the standard non parole period.
“However, if this were to result in a reduction in the standard non parole periods for serious offences that are of great community concern, the government would need to be strongly convinced before we would consider such an option.”
“In an opinion piece this week I urged judges to pay greater attention to community concerns, and this is clearly another area in which judges and magistrates need to re-examine their sentences.”
“Victims in child sexual assault cases are the most vulnerable members of our society, and we need to do our utmost to protect them.”
Unlawful assault laws proposed [PDF, 107kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 12 November 2013
The NSW Government is proposing to introduce a new offence to cover situations where an unlawful assault causes death, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said.
“The proposed bill will be based on a Western Australian so-called “one punch law” which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years – the laws I am proposing for NSW will carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment,” Mr Smith said.
“The new offence and proposed penalty will send the strongest message to violent and drunken thugs that assaulting people is not a rite of passage on a boozy night out – your behaviour can have the most serious consequences and the community expects you to pay a heavy price for your actions.”
“There is community support for creating an offence which explicitly recognises situations where an assault directly or indirectly causes the death of a person. It will also provide clarity about the appropriate charge in ‘one punch’ situations.”
“I have this morning briefed the Coalition party room, my colleagues are supportive of the government drafting a bill on this issue, and I hope to be able to bring it before the parliament in the new year.”
The proposed offence will be similar to that in section 281 of the Western Australian Criminal Code, which states:
The offence of manslaughter remains available for assaults where there is a foreseeable risk of serious injury, while the proposed new offence will apply to any assault which results in death.
(1) If a person unlawfully assaults another who dies as a direct or indirect result of the assault, the person is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.
(2) A person is criminally responsible under subsection (1) even if the person does not intend or foresee the death of the other person and even if the death was not reasonably foreseeable.
Attorney General asks DPP to consider an appeal [PDF, 108kb]
Issued: Friday, 8 November 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider an appeal against the
sentence handed down over the manslaughter of Thomas Kelly and a series of other assaults in Kings Cross.
“Thomas Kelly was the victim of an unprovoked attack, and I have great sympathy for his family who are devastated by their loss.”
“Drunken assaults are a terrible scourge, and every weekend we hear about attacks by intoxicated irresponsible people on bystanders who are lucky to escape with their life.”
“I have contacted the Director of Public Prosecutions and asked him to review the sentence handed down today to Kieran Loveridge and consider if there are grounds for an appeal.”
It is inappropriate to comment further until the matter is resolved.
Safe Design Display Home unveiled at the Ponds [PDF, 102kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today unveiled a display home in Sydney’s northwest that is a burglar’s worst nightmare.
The Safe Design Home, which is the result of a collaboration between the Department of Attorney General and Justice and UrbanGrowth NSW, will be on display for three years at The Ponds Display Village.
“The design demonstrates that you don’t need to build a steel fortress or have access to expensive state-of-the-art technology in order to have a safe home,” Mr Smith said.
Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard said the Safe Design Home was packed with affordable, easy to install and aesthetically pleasing security features.
“Whether you are building, renovating, or just looking for ways of improving the safety of your house, a tour of the Safe Design Home will provide plenty of great ideas,” Mr Hazzard said.
Mr Smith said the home had been designed to send a message to burglars to look elsewhere.
“Burglars don’t want to be seen or heard when they are committing crime, but approaching the Safe Design House by stealth would be extremely difficult,” Mr Smith said.
“The gravel on the driveway makes a crunching sound underfoot, the landscape design leaves nowhere to hide and the sensor lights give a visual indication of when someone is approaching the house.
“Any attempts to force entry would activate a back-to-base alarm that would identify the burglar’s exact location.”
The most frequently-used areas of the Safe Design Home are street-facing to give residents greater awareness of what is happening in their neighbourhood. Large glazed windows at the front and rear of the property also increase sightlines.
“The glazed security glass is resistant to significant impact and will not shatter if broken, making it even harder for intruders to gain forced entry,” Mr Smith said.
With many break and enters occurring during the day, Mr Smith said establishing a home office was another way of deterring burglars.
“As not everyone has the luxury of being able to work from home, it also a good idea to get to know your neighbours so you can keep an eye out for each other,” Mr Smith said.
“When you are away, ask a trusted neighbour to bring in your bins, collect your mail and water your garden – this will remove signs that you are not home.”
The Safe Design Home, which was built by Eden Brae Homes, is located on the corner of Riverbank Drive and Tomah Crescent at The Ponds. It is open from 10am to 5pm seven days a week.
“Home to 7,500 residents, The Ponds is the fastest growing master planned community in NSW and is the ideal location for showcasing to families how to incorporate safety features into their new homes,” said Carmen Osborne, Development Director from UrbanGrowth NSW.
“While the Safe Design Home contains clever design features and many of the latest security products, it also highlights the importance of simple measures such as installing secure fencing, keyed window locks, deadlocks on doors and security screens.”
For further information visit www.landcom.com.au or call 02 9391 298.
New head for Department of Attorney General and Justice [PDF, 150kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 5 November 2013
The head of the ACT public service, Andrew Cappie-Wood will be appointed as Director General of the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
"Mr Cappie-Wood is a highly experienced administrator, who has worked in the public service in NSW and the ACT for more than 30 years," Mr O’Farrell said.
"Most recently he has restructured the ACT public service, combining 10 departments into a single entity and co-ordinated whole-of-government policies and projects.
"Mr Cappie-Wood replaces Laurie Glanfield AM, who left the Department of Attorney General and Justice in July after more than 20 years at its head to become Director General of the NSW Department of Finance and Services."
Mr Smith said Mr Cappie-Wood takes over at an important time for the department.
“Mr Cappie-Wood will work alongside other experienced, senior staff and continue the good work of Mr Glanfield - while also bringing in fresh ideas," Mr Smith said.
“He is due to take up his position early next month.”
In NSW, Mr Cappie-Wood previously headed the Department of Housing, the Department of Education and Training, the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and also worked in a range of positions in the Department of Planning, including as Deputy Director General.
Mr Cappie-Wood said: "I am looking forward to returning to NSW and stepping into Laurie Glanfield's big shoes. My first task will be to get to know the staff and receive briefings on the current issues being handled by the department."
The Department of Attorney General and Justice delivers legal, court and supervision services to the people of NSW by managing courts and justice services, implementing programs to reduce crime and re-offending, managing custodial and community-based correctional services, and advising on law reform and legal matters.
Legal Aid helps bushfire victims with insurance claims [PDF,93kb]
Issued: Sunday, 3 November 2013
Insurance companies have reduced red tape after representations by Legal Aid lawyers to help bushfire victims to resolve their claims quickly, Attorney General Greg Smith SC has said.
“People who have lost their homes and possessions in recent bushfires are already facing a stressful situation without having to do battle with their insurers,” he said.
“In one case an 11 year-old boy was asked by an insurance company to itemise the contents of his bedroom. In other cases, insurance companies asked for photos or receipts to support claims for items lost in the fires.”
“This sort of approach to bushfire victims is cruel and unnecessarily adds to the trauma they have suffered.”
“Solicitors from Legal Aid NSW helped reach agreement with insurers so that victims will not be required to itemise their losses.”
So far, Legal Aid lawyers have provided free legal advice to more than 230 bushfire victims at the Disaster Recovery Centre at Springwood and over the phone. Fact sheets were handed out to fire victims in other affected areas.
“They also managed to resolve a dispute with one insurance company which had falsely informed customers that any payment for temporary accommodation would be deducted from the final insurance payout. This would have potentially prevented families from being able to afford to rebuild their homes.”
“When the insurer realised their mistake they retrained staff and contacted customers to advise them they were entitled to up to 52 weeks of payment for temporary accommodation, offering an immediate lump sum payment of the entitlement.”
“I thank the insurance companies concerned for working with Legal Aid solicitors to resolve the issues, helping fire victims and speeding up their claims.”
In another initiative, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is currently processing applications to replace more than 200 birth certificates and 55 marriage certificates destroyed in the fire free of charge.
For more information, visit http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/get-legal-help/legal-help-for-victims-of-natural-disasters
Better protection for sexual assault witnesses [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Laws protecting sexual assault victims from coming face-to-face with their attacker will be made more comprehensive, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“Already a complainant is able to give evidence via closed circuit television or behind a screen at the trial of the person accused of committing a sexual offence against them,” Mr Smith said.
“But under current laws, they may not always be entitled to such protections when giving evidence at a separate trial involving the same accused person, but a different victim.”
“The government will amend the law so that sexual offence witnesses would be able to testify from a private location at these trials, regardless of what type of evidence they were required to give,” he said.
“This means they would be protected even if their testimony didn’t concern the offences against them, but other matters that helped to corroborate the evidence of the complainant. This could include evidence about dates such as holidays, locations such as the layout of a home, or about habits of the accused.”
The amendment of the law responds to the advice of the interagency Sexual Assault Review Committee, which includes NSW Police, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Giving evidence in court is difficult enough, but being asked to give evidence on more than one occasion in front of the same accused must be a most traumatic and harrowing experience.”
“If victims are asked to give evidence again in another trial, the least we can do is make sure they have available to them the same protections that make this difficult task a little bit easier,” he said.
“The government will be introducing an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act into parliament this week to clarify the legislation to leave no doubt that these protections apply to sexual offence witnesses when giving any type of evidence in trials for sexual offences.”
Community urged to put their plans in black and white [PDF, 48kb]
Issued: Thursday, 24 October 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Minister for Ageing and Disability Services John Ajaka today launched a new advertising campaign urging people to pre-plan for incapacity later in life.
“Only five per cent of adults clearly understand the three essential documents – Wills, Powers of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship - that are available to plan ahead in case they can no longer manage their financial affairs or make decisions about their health and lifestyle,” Mr Smith said.
“The new NSW Government advertising campaign “Get it in black and white” is designed to get people to become informed, take control and plan ahead for themselves and their ageing parents,” he said.
Mr Ajaka said people now lived longer, and illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and strokes were on the rise.
“Research shows Australians are not prepared for the possibility that something adverse could happen to themselves or their loved ones.”
“We like to believe things only happen to other people and that somehow we’re invincible, but the truth is we are not and we should all prepare for the future.”
“Planning for later life is like having an insurance policy in place – except it covers your health and financial requirements, and ensures your loved ones are looked after when you are no longer around.”
While the majority (85 per cent) of adults with ageing parents expect to be involved in some aspect of decision making for their parents: 71 per cent have not discussed with their parents how their finances would be managed; 64 per cent have not spoken about what medical or health treatment they would (or would not) want; and 58 per cent have not spoken about how their parents wish their estate to be distributed after they die.
“Get it in black & white” is an Australian-first, NSW Government advertising campaign in print, on television, online and on social media. It encourages people to seek information, have these conversations now, and take control of their own plans for later life while they have the capacity to do so.
Mr Smith said: “You need to have legal capacity when you prepare legal documents, such as a Power of Attorney, Enduring Guardian or a Will. Once there is a diagnosis of dementia or similar illness, you have left it too late,” Mr Smith said.
“When someone suffers a sudden illness of loses mental capacity it is often left to our courts and tribunal to decide who will make decisions about their life. It is much better to put plans in place early,” Mr Smith said.
Tracey Spicer, journalist and spokesperson for “Get it in black & white”, has seen first-hand the importance of planning ahead and understanding the wishes of ageing parents.
“Most of us looking after older parents also have to cope with looking after our own kids at the same time, and we too should make sure we have at least some of these documents in place – like an up-to-date and professionally drafted Will that includes a provision for guardianship of your children under the age of 18 years, in case anything happens to you.”
The Planning Ahead Tools website has relevant information, including a section for health professionals and legal professionals. Fact sheets are available for download in 13 languages.
For more information visit www.planningaheadtools.com.au
Making false allegations for APVOs becomes a crime [PDF, 109kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Making false allegations in order to obtain a personal violence order against a neighbour, co-worker, or stranger will become a criminal offence, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“This move is designed to protect law-abiding citizens from false and vexatious APVO applications,” Mr Smith said.
“Anyone who thinks it is acceptable to make accusations they know to be untrue should think again, because under this law it will be an offence punishable with a fine of up to $1100, or up to 12 months in prison.”
The changes follow recommendations made by an interim review of frivolous and vexatious apprehended personal violence orders, which was tabled in parliament last month.
Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs) differ from Domestic Violence orders and can only be used when the victim is not in a “domestic relationship” with the alleged perpetrator.
The proposed changes to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Actwill make it an offence to give a false or misleading statement in an application for an apprehended personal violence order.
“This will make an application for an APVO consistent with other similar processes which require applicants to declare the truth of the information they provide,” Mr Smith said.
“It will only apply to people who knowingly make a false statement when applying for an APVO, which will provide some protection to vulnerable applicants such as people with mental health problems or cognitive impairments.”
The amendments to be introduced into parliament this week will also:
Changes will also be made by regulation to require applicants to declare a commercial relationship, debt or previous history of litigation between the parties
- require magistrates to refer APVO matters to mediation unless there are good reasons not to; and
- encourage a registrar to exercise their discretion to refuse to accept an application for an APVO where appropriate
Under changes previously announced, this legislation will also give senior police the power to issue provisional ADVOs in cases of domestic violence and expand police powers to give an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence directions or detain them for the purpose of serving the order.
Winners of Justice Awards honoured [PDF, 96kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC has congratulated the winners of the 2013 Justice Awards, which were announced in Sydney last night.
“The annual awards, run by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, showcase the dedication and commitment of individuals and organisations to the service of others,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith presented the 2013 Aboriginal Justice Award to Lyall Munro, a well-respected elder from Moree who has worked to improve access to justice for Aboriginal people throughout his life.
Mr Munro, a direct descendent of the Myall Creek area, fought for the recognition of the Myall Creek Massacre and helped to remove Moree’s segregation policies.
“Lyall Munro has a long history of involvement in representing Aboriginal people. He was there for the Freedom Rides, and he is still actively fighting for the interests of the community in Moree today,” Mr Smith said.
The 2013 Justice Medal was awarded to the chief executive of the Community Restorative Centre, Alison Churchill.
Ms Churchill was honoured for more than two decades of work to help ex-prisoners and their families.
“Alison Churchill has been instrumental in growing this important service which helps former inmates in their transition from prison back to the community,” Mr Smith said.
The Community Restorative Centre provides counselling, accommodation and court support service, outreach to prisons, as well as information and advice to former inmates and their families, with the help of government funding.
“I congratulate Ms Churchill, Mr Munro and all other winners, and thank them and all nominees for their contribution to improving access to justice in NSW,” he said.
“Our community and the criminal justice system would be much poorer without the tireless efforts of so many dedicated people, including the marvellous volunteers and the pro-bono schemes of major law firms, which were also honoured last night.”
For the list of nominees and winners go to www.lawfoundation.net.au/justice_awards
Graffiti removal day spruces up the state [PDF, 138kb]
Issued: Sunday, 20 October 2013
An army of volunteers has taken part in the annual Graffiti Removal Day to clean vandalised areas of local communities as part of a statewide makeover.
NSW Premier and Minister for Western Sydney Barry O’Farrell was joined by Attorney General Greg Smith SC, Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee, Rotary Down Under Executive Director Bob Aitken, and Parramatta Councillor Jean Pierre Abood to help volunteers remove graffiti in Telopea.
Mr O’Farrell said community pride had prevailed over senseless vandalism, with graffiti wiped out at more than 200 sites in metropolitan, regional and rural areas – double the number of sites cleaned last year.
“It speaks volumes about how people feel about graffiti that hundreds of volunteers are willing to give up part of their Sunday to join this clean-up,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“Graffiti costs NSW about $100 million a year, but rapid removal denies vandals the notoriety they crave and helps prevent repeat attacks in the same locations.
“The NSW Government has sent a strong message to graffiti vandals that their behaviour won’t be tolerated by increasing penalties,” Mr O’Farrell said.
The law requires juvenile graffiti vandals to appear before court for a graffiti offence and give courts the power to:
Mr Smith said Graffiti Removal Day was empowering for volunteers and enabled them to reclaim ownership of graffiti-damaged public areas.
- Extend the time graffiti offenders spend on learner or provisional licenses;
- Limit the number of demerit points they are able to accrue over a specific period, and;
- Require the cleaning up of graffiti to be a condition of any court imposed Community Service Order on graffiti offenders.
“Cleaning up these areas could see locals return to areas they may have been avoiding because they felt unsafe,” Mr Smith said.
“The battle against graffiti isn’t confined to one day of the year.
“Aside from participating in Graffiti Removal Day, people can help improve the appearance of our State all year round by calling a dedicated hotline.
“Anyone who has noticed vandalism is urged to pick up the phone and call the Graffiti Hotline - 1800 707 125 – and report it as soon as they see it.
"The hotline has received around 2,700 calls since it began operating last year and enables everyone in NSW to be a graffiti watchdog. People should never feel like they have to put up with graffiti in their community,” Mr Smith said.
Graffiti Removal Day is run by the NSW Government and Rotary with the support of most local councils in NSW, as well as community groups including the Australian Men’s Shed Association (NSW Branch), Scouts Australia, Girl Guides NSW & ACT and Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYC).
For more information about Graffiti Removal Day events, visit www.graffitiremovalday.org.au
President appointed for NSW super tribunal [PDF, 125kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Robertson Wright SC as a Supreme Court judge and as the inaugural President of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
“NCAT will become the gateway for almost all tribunal services in NSW when it begins operating in January and I am pleased to announce that its first president has extensive experience not only in the law, but in tribunal operations and dispute resolution,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Wright has been practising as a barrister for 30 years and has been a Judicial Member of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) since 2007.
“On the ADT, Mr Wright has presided over a range of matters including disciplinary hearings for legal practitioners and cases involving breaches of discrimination law,” Mr Smith said.
“As a barrister, Mr Wright has appeared in a large number of cases relating to competition and consumer protection.”
“He has also been involved in numerous mediations, assisting parties to resolve disputes and avoid expensive court proceedings.”
Mr Wright obtained a Bachelor of Laws and Arts at the University of Sydney, receiving first class honours for both degrees. He began practising law in 1980, was admitted to the bar in 1983 and has been a Senior Counsel since 2001.
Outside of the law, Mr Wright served for 15 years in the Army Reserve, attaining the rank of major.
Mr Wright will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on 25 October 2013. On the same date, he will begin a five-year term as NCAT President.
“As President of NCAT, my focus will be on ensuring that tribunal processes are simple and efficient and that just outcomes are delivered quickly, cost effectively and transparently,” Mr Wright said.
NCAT will integrate 23 of the State’s tribunals and bodies. Harnessing the expertise of the State’s existing tribunals, NCAT will operate four specialist divisions:
- Consumer and Commercial
- Administrative and Equal Opportunity and
- Occupational and Regulatory.
NCAT will also have an internal appeals panel to enable accessible and timely reviews of most tribunal decisions.
“The creation of a tribunal network will build a collegiate atmosphere among division members, which will help to improve the quality and consistency of services,” Mr Smith said.
Daylight saving starts on Sunday [PDF, 70kb]
Issued: Friday, 4 October 2013
Daylight saving begins in NSW on Sunday, 6 October 2013, at 2am when clocks should be put forward one hour.
Daylight saving will end on Sunday, 6 April 2014, at 3am when clocks are to be put back one hour.
Daylight saving is held from the first Sunday in October until the first Sunday in April in all Australian states and territories except Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory where daylight saving is not observed.
Further daylight saving information is available at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/cru
Adopted children to win identity rights [PDF, 101kb]
Issued: Sunday, 29 September 2013
NSW parents whose legal adoptions are finalised overseas will be able to obtain NSW birth certificates for their children under new laws to be introduced to State Parliament.
Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, and Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward, said the Government was seeking changes to the law to give children whose adoptions are completed abroad, assisted by State agencies, the same rights as children who are adopted in NSW.
“The children would be able to use a NSW birth certificate as proof of identity instead of the adoption documents issued in their country of birth,” Mr Smith said.
“This is a significant reform, as many overseas adoption documents contain derogatory and stigmatising language.”
“For example, many children adopted in China are given a ‘certificate of abandonment’ that states that their parents are ‘unknown’.”
“No child in NSW should have to carry around a certificate that reminds them that they were abandoned.”
Currently children whose adoptions have been arranged by Community Services with countries that Australia has formal adoption programs are unable to get a NSW birth certificate if their adoption was finalised in their country of origin.
Ms Goward said the NSW birth certificate would give the children and their adoptive parents more privacy.
“The proposed change in the law will rectify a situation that infringes a child’s rights to privacy and non-discrimination,” Ms Goward said.
“The NSW birth certificate states where a person was born and who their parents are in the eyes of the law – it doesn’t state whether their parents are biological or adoptive.”
“This will have a big impact on the lives of people whose adoptions were completed overseas, particularly when you consider how often birth certificates are used as proof of identification, whether it’s to enrol in school, register for a sporting team, or to apply for a job or a driver’s licence.”
The proposed changes to the Births Deaths and Marriages Act and Adoption Act are in response to requests from adoptive parents around the State, and will be introduced to Parliament soon
Jamming trial to shut down contraband prison phones [PDF, 276.4kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Australia’s first trial of mobile phone jamming in prison began today, in a major security initiative to shut down illicit phone use by inmates.
Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC and Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin today activated phone jamming technology at Lithgow Correctional Centre, launching a nine month trial on behalf of prison authorities across Australia.
“Today is an important step forward for corrections in Australia as we combat illicit phone use in prisons, which has become a significant concern for jurisdictions around the world,’’ Mr Smith said.
“Mobile phone possession in NSW prisons is a crime. Mobile phones pose a threat to the security of correctional centres and community safety as they are often used to facilitate crime outside prison walls.’’
Mr Severin said the jamming technology adds to a combination of measures Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) already uses to combat contraband phones, including security screening, intelligence gathering, and random and targeted searches by officers and K9s, including mobile phone sniffer dogs.”
“In the past five years, we have significantly stepped up efforts to seize and detect mobile phones in our centres and have removed hundreds of mobile phones and accessories from circulation – however inmates continue to try new and devious ways to obtain them.”
“We believe this jamming technology is the ultimate answer because even if an inmate does obtain a mobile phone, it will be worthless because it won’t work.’’
Dozens of antennas have now been installed inside Lithgow Correctional Centre to jam the channels that would normally transmit mobile phone signals.
Mr Smith said the antennas were adjusted so the jamming signal did not penetrate beyond the correctional centre’s boundaries and did not affect mobile phone customers in the community.
Service providers Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are cooperating with the trial and will monitor the results. The remote Lithgow Correctional Centre site was chosen for the trial as a precaution to reduce any possible impact on the operation of mobile signals near the prison.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has granted CSNSW an exemption from Australia’s Radiocommunications Act 1992, which makes it an offence to operate, supply or possess jamming devices, so the trial can proceed.
“We have conducted extensive planning with our project partners, consulted regularly with the local Lithgow community, and the effects of the jamming equipment will be constantly monitored and assessed,’’ Mr Severin said.
“We are confident that mobile phone use outside Lithgow Correctional Centre’s walls will not be affected. However if members of the public do experience any issues with their phones near the Centre they should first contact their mobile service provider which will be best placed to determine the reason. Details of the time and location of any issue will assist the provider’s investigations.”
“If providers believe an issue may be related to the jammer they will contact Corrective Services NSW which will immediately investigate to resolve the issue.’’
Corrective Services NSW has also established a toll-free number for public enquiries: 1800 526 637 or 1800 JAMMER .
Mr Smith said a consultant will evaluate the effectiveness of the technology used in the trial and report to CSNSW, ACMA and other states.
“The report will help inform the ACMA’s decision on whether it would be in the public interest to allow deployment of mobile phone jammers in correctional centres,” Mr Smith said.
Corrective Services NSW expects to invest about $900,000 for materials and equipment, installation, monitoring, technical advice and evaluation. A further $160,000 was contributed by NSW and all other states and territories equally to undertake preparation, including initial design and testing of technology.
More information can be found at www.correctiveservices.nsw.gov.au and www.acma.gov.au and the fact sheet below.
Media Contacts: Geesche Jacobsen 0467 737 920 or Corrective Services 0419 258 290
Why trial mobile phone jamming in NSW?
How will the jamming technology work?
- Mobile phone jamming technology has been used in other countries including the United States, Bermuda, New Zealand and the Cayman Islands to combat the growing international problem of contraband phone use in prison.
- Contraband mobile phones present a risk to the security and good order of a correctional centre.
- Inmates who obtain mobile phones can use them to facilitate further crimes, as in the case of a high-profile NSW prisoner who was convicted of directing a drug distribution network in the community.
- Mobile phones work by registering with the nearest active mobile phone tower on their network. This tower provides the connection that allows mobile traffic including calls, texts and data.
- The jamming device uses antennas to emit a signal at very low power, preventing any mobiles inside the correctional centre from connecting to the phone tower. This renders mobile phones inside the centre inoperable.
- The number of antennas and their placement inside the centre will ensure the signal coming from the jammer is so low that it only affects phones within the targeted area, and not beyond.
What else is being done to combat mobile phones in prisons?
- The CSNSW Security Operations Group (SOG) uses teams of officers and K9s, including mobile phone sniffer dogs, to conduct random and targeted searches of correctional centre visitors, inmates, cells and common areas across NSW.
- Possession of mobile phones, chargers and SIM cards in NSW prisons is a criminal offence that attracts a maximum two years’ imprisonment or a $5500 fine, or both. Alternatively, it can be dealt with via an internal correctional charge and inmates may lose specified privileges for up to six months.
- Searches have increased in the past five years, with the SOG seizing 622 mobile phones, chargers and SIM cards between 1 January 2009 and 30 June 2013. Seizures rose more than 500 per cent from 39 phones and accessories being found in 2009 compared to 239 in 2012.
- Last year SOG did 92,560 searches of prisoners, cells and common areas inside prisons – a total 17,522 more searches than in 2011. This does not include visitor search operations.
- Individual correctional centre officers also conduct daily searches of their centres for contraband including mobile phones.
- CSNSW conducts significant intelligence gathering, including monitoring inmates’ landline phone use and mail, and uses intelligence to initiate targeted searches.
Inspector of Custodial Services appointed [PDF, 110kb]
Issued: Thursday, 19 September 2013
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith today announced the appointment of Dr John Paget as Inspector of Custodial Services.
The Inspector will oversee adult and juvenile correctional facilities in the state, and report directly to Parliament. He will not be dealing with individual complaints and grievances, which remains the role of the Ombudsman, but focus on institutional and systemic issues.
“The Labor Government abolished the position of Inspector General of Prisons in 2003. I am pleased we can deliver on an election promise to reinstate independent oversight of custodial services in line with the recommendation of a 2009 Parliamentary Committee,” Mr Smith said.
“The Inspector will provide external scrutiny of the standards and operational practices of custodial services in NSW. He will regularly inspect and report on all custodial facilities, he can address potential problems before they become major issues and bring to public attention examples of good practice and professional conduct of staff.”
“It is appropriate for agencies that provide custodial services in the state to have independent oversight.”
Dr Paget is a former NSW Assistant Commissioner of Corrective Services, CEO of Corrective Services in South Australia and has also worked in the Corrective Services department in the ACT.
More recently, he has lectured at Charles Sturt University and worked as a consultant in Australia and New Zealand, including on the review of the riot at the Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre by the Western Australian Inspector of Custodial Services.
The NSW Inspector will also administer the Official Visitors Program – under which community members regularly visit prisons and juvenile detention centres and help resolve issues for inmates and staff at the local level.
The Inspector also has jurisdiction over the transport of inmates and all police and court cells managed by Corrective Services or Juvenile Justice.
He must inspect and report to Parliament on each adult correctional centre at least once every five years, and on each juvenile correctional centre at least once every three years.
Mr Smith said: “I first met Dr Paget at a conference when I was the shadow minister and was impressed with his level of expertise. Dr Paget has volunteered for me in Opposition and has worked as a Corrective Services NSW consultant in my office on a part time basis, and has also worked with Labor governments in NSW, South Australia and the ACT.”
Dr Paget was selected after an exhaustive, independent appointment process which attracted candidates from around the world and was overseen by a firm of executive search consultants. He will take up his five year term shortly.
His appointment was supported by the Parliamentary Committee on the Ombudsman, the Police Integrity Commission and the Crime Commission, which also oversees and reviews the exercise of his functions.
Dr Paget will start as the Inspector of Custodial Services on 1 October 2013.
Law Reform Commission Report on Sentencing [PDF, 116kb]
Issued: Thursday, 12 September 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today tabled the Law Reform Commission’s report on Sentencing and released the Government’s interim response.
“Sentencing is a fundamental aspect of the criminal justice system, but one which over recent years has become unnecessarily complex,” Mr Smith said.
“Reviewing this complex area of the law was a Coalition election commitment and I am pleased we can now move ahead with examining the recommendations and deciding how to improve sentencing laws.”
“Sentencing law needs to be efficient and simple to promote an open and transparent justice system which can be easily understood by members of the public.”
“Sentencing needs to fit the crime and individual circumstances, it needs to recognise the harm done to victims, it needs to punish the offender, deter others and protect the community.”
“We will continue to drive reform, like our Serious Offender Legislation, that sees serious criminals punished appropriately for their crimes and that ensures the community can feel safe. We are committed to giving the state’s judicial officers the best, most workable and transparent laws to ensure justice is served.”
“The Law Reform Commission has made nearly 100 recommendations about such diverse issues as the principles of sentencing, aggravating and mitigating factors, custodial and non-custodial sentences, and diversionary programs.”
The Government has already adopted the Commission’s recommendation on Standard Non-Parole Periods and asked the Sentencing Council to make recommendations about the offences to be included in the Standard Non-Parole Period table, their appropriate periods, as well as the process for adding future offences. The council will prioritise its consideration of child sexual assault offences to inform the parliamentary committee on Sentencing of Child Sexual Assault Offenders.
“It is a comprehensive and thorough report and I thank the Commission and its chairperson, Justice James Wood AO QC, for their work on this report.”
“We will consider the remaining recommendations before releasing a final response.”
The Law Reform Commission’s report is available at: http://www.lawreform.lawlink.nsw.gov.au
Law Reform Commission Report #139 Sentencing
In September 2011, the Attorney General commissioned the NSW Law Reform Commission to review the sentencing laws in NSW, having particular regard to:
1. current sentencing principles including those contained in the common law
The report was commissioned to inform the Government in its aim to ensure our criminal justice system works as efficiently and effectively as possible. The New South Wales sentencing laws have become unnecessarily complex, leading to a number of appeals. Appeals delay final judgments and extend the trauma for victims of crime as well as imposing extra, avoidable cost on the system.
2. the need to ensure that sentencing courts are provided with adequate options and discretions
3. opportunities to simplify the law, whilst providing a framework that ensures transparency and consistency
4. the operation of the standard minimum non-parole period scheme; and
5. any other related matter.
This review of sentencing laws was a Coalition election commitment. The Government is committed to clarifying and simplifying sentencing laws, ensuring appropriate sentencing options are available to judges and magistrates, and enhancing the transparency of and public confidence in the justice system.
The Commission put out question papers and considered more than 50 submissions and in July 2013 produced its final report.
The Government thanks the Commission for its work and this comprehensive report.
The Government is today tabling this report, noting the Commission has made nearly 100 recommendations.
The Government will be considering the Commission’s recommendations carefully before announcing a final position on the recommendations.
One of the Law Reform Commission’s proposals is an expansion of the cannabis cautioning scheme to other drugs. The existing cannabis cautioning scheme will continue. The Government does not support an expansion of the scheme to other drugs.
The government further believes the Commission’s proposal to allow judges to set a parole period for life sentences would require extensive community debate before being pursued. Since the enactment of the Sentencing Act 1989, life has meant life in NSW. The Government believes this policy has wide community support and is committed to the current law.
The Commission’s report on Sentencing contains a large number of detailed proposals and the Government is committed to consider them in detail before responding.
The Government expects to provide a more detailed response to the proposals by the end of this year, with a view to introducing reform of sentencing legislation next year.
New prison transforms offender operations in Western Sydney [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Thursday, 12 September 2013
Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC and Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin have today commissioned a new, secure prisoner intake and transition facility inside the Emu Plains Correctional Complex.
The new Amber Laurel Correctional Centre will accept freshly charged offenders in Western Sydney from this weekend, as Corrective Services NSW transforms its management of prisoners facing the courts.
Mr Smith said Amber Laurel was a more efficient way of managing newly charged offenders who are refused bail and facing the courts, in one secure and safe location.
“Amber Laurel Correctional Centre replaces three Corrective Services after-hours holding cell operations in Parramatta, Penrith and Campbelltown, boosting system capacity by 11 extra beds,” Mr Smith said.
“It will free up Corrective Services and police resources with a rapid prisoner pick-up service and audio-visual facilities.”
The new entirely smoke-free centre will house up to 56 prisoners and is Sydney’s first correctional centre dedicated as an intake and transition centre for offenders new to custody.
“And because there are more individual cells available, Corrective Services officers will now have far greater flexibility to safely manage different categories of offenders who can’t be housed together, such as males, females, gang members and mentally ill and prisoners requiring protection,” Mr Smith said.
“From this Sunday, when Amber Laurel accepts its first intake, the Centre will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive prisoners directly from police and the courts.”
Commissioner Severin said another important innovation was Corrective Services’ new rapid prisoner pick-up from police stations so police could get back out on the beat faster.
“Western Sydney police will no longer need to drive offenders to the three holding centres at Parramatta, Penrith and Campbelltown,” Mr Severin said.
“Corrective Services NSW has established a 24-hour secure prisoner transport service to collect offenders from across the region and deliver them directly to Amber Laurel. Police can choose to call a CSNSW hotline and book a prisoner pick-up or drop them straight to Amber Laurel if they’re in the area.
“CSNSW has consulted extensively with police, the Courts and the Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network to develop this new approach which will improve community safety by closer collaboration between justice-related agencies and provide more humane offender management.
Mr Smith said the centre, last used to house juvenile offenders, had received a $700,000 renovation to meet strict security, technology and prisoner welfare requirements.
“Amber Laurel Correctional Centre will be smoke-free for prisoners and staff and we are providing outdoor holding yards so offenders may have scheduled time out of cells,” Mr Smith said.
“Amber Laurel also has four audio visual rooms – two for legal visits and two for remote appearances before weekend bail court resulting in reduced transport costs.”
“We expect that someone arrested by police on a Friday or Saturday night and refused police bail can arrive at Amber Laurel, get legal advice, appear at bail court via audio-visual link and if granted court bail, be released, all from the one location.”
“If the courts remand prisoners into custody, Corrective Services can then take them to a longer-term remand facility such as Silverwater’s Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre.’’
Mr Severin said from Sunday, the 24-hour current holding cells at Penrith, Parramatta and Campbelltown would adopt Monday-to-Friday court operating times, and Corrective Services would transport prisoners to and from those court complexes for weekday court appearances.
“The new operation will save taxpayers more than $600,000 through efficiencies gained and no staff will lose their jobs due to this streamlined system,” Mr Severin said.
What facilities will Amber Laurel Correctional Centre have?
Who will be received at Amber Laurel Correctional Centre?
- A 56-prisoner capacity with a maximum of two per cell, allowing greater separation of prisoners of different categories.
- A dedicated CSNSW transport service to collect prisoners from police stations and to take them to and from Penrith, Parramatta and Campbelltown court complexes.
- Two audio-visual link rooms to allow prisoners to appear remotely before weekend bail court and two legal visit rooms.
- Three holding yards where prisoners will have scheduled outdoor time, and
- A clinic for medical treatment.
How will Amber Laurel Correctional Centre operate?
- Prisoners who have been newly arrested, charged and refused bail by police, but have yet to make a first appearance before court.
- Prisoners who have just been refused bail after a court appearance or had their bail revoked and are about to be placed in one of CSNSW’ remand centres.
- Some freshly sentenced inmates in transit to other correctional centres.
- It will operate 24-hours, seven-days.
- It will be Western Sydney’s counterpart to CSNSW’ 24-hour cell operations at Surry Hills’ Sydney Police Centre – however it will be a standalone, secure CSNSW correctional centre.
- Amber Laurel’s own CSNSW prisoner transport operation will collect prisoners directly from Penrith, Parramatta and Campbelltown police commands and feeder police stations around the clock, with a CSNSW hotline for police to book a prisoner pick-up. Police can also make direct prisoner drop-offs.
- Inmates facing court at Penrith, Parramatta and Campbelltown during weekdays will be transported to and from Amber Laurel by CSNSW to appear in person.
- On weekends, prisoners held at Amber Laurel will make court appearances via audio-visual link as is current practice for Sydney’s weekend bail proceedings at Parramatta Local Court.
Industrial Relations Commission Transformed [PDF, 99kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Four senior judges of the Industrial Relations Commission will retire early next year, ahead of the mandatory retirement age of 72, Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Minister for Industrial Relations Mike Baird announced today.
“The decision of the judges to retire early reflects the drastically reduced workload of the Commission, which has seen the number of filings fall from over 900 per year to less than 100 over the past nine years mainly as a result of the transfer of private sector workers to the federal industrial relations system,” Mr Baird said.
“The Commission’s President, Justice Roger Boland, acknowledged that by the end of 2013 the court is expected to generate enough work for only one judge,” he said.
Justice Boland and his colleagues Justice Wayne Haylen, Justice Conrad Staff, and Justice Anna Backman have agreed to retire from February 2014. They will be entitled to an early retirement package and all four will be entitled to the full judicial pension in 2014.
“I thank Justice Boland for his leadership of the court and I appreciate the work and commitment he and his colleagues have shown to the work of the Commission. The Government acknowledges their dedicated service and their combined 38 years of service on the court,” said Mr Smith.
The Industrial Relations Commission regulates public sector and local government employment in NSW. It exercises non-judicial functions including conciliation of industrial disputes, award setting and review when sitting as the Commission. In its role as the Industrial Court, the IRC exercises certain judicial functions as a court of superior record.
“The current Vice President Michael Walton will be appointed President of the Industrial Relations Commission from February. He will exercise both judicial and arbitrarial functions in future cases, preserving the current structure of the IRC,” Mr Smith said.
The judges may be considered to serve part-time on NSW tribunals and other bodies and Justice Haylen is expected to continue as a part-time member of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
The Government will introduce legislation to enable judges of the Industrial Court to sit on the Supreme Court or Land and Environment Court and vice versa with the consent of the Chief Justice, in order to create flexibility to meet temporary increases in workload. Legislation would also transfer the functions of the Full Bench of the Industrial Court to a division of the Supreme Court.
Parole decision regarding Mohamed Sanoussi [PDF,99kb]
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC is seeking urgent advice relating to a case before the State Parole Authority.
Earlier today, the authority decided to grant parole to a man who had been convicted over his role in a series of gang rapes in Sydney in August 2000.
He has served 13 years of a 16 year sentence. The State Parole Authority today decided the earliest date he could be released on parole is 25 September 2013.
It has now become clear that some new and relevant information was not available to the State Parole Authority. This information may have had a bearing on the Authority’s decision.
Mr Smith has sought advice about the mechanisms by which this information can be brought to the attention of the State Parole Authority.
The options being investigated include an appeal of the grant of parole, a re-opening of the hearing, or an application for revocation of parole.
Two silks appointed as District Court judges [PDF, 134kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 4 September 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointments of Sharron Norton SC and Mark Williams SC as judges of the District Court of NSW.
“Ms Norton and Mr Williams are highly respected silks who have been practising as barristers since 1979,” Mr Smith said.
Ms Norton has practised primarily in common law and appellate law and has appeared in dozens of Court of Appeal matters relating to personal injury and medical and professional negligence.
She was appointed as Senior Counsel in 2001 and has been a Director of Frederick Jordan Chambers in Sydney for the past three years.
Mr Smith said Ms Norton also had experience in hearing and determining cases and writing judgements.
“In the late 1990s Ms Norton served as an Acting Judge of the District Court and for the past 15 years she has been a part-time judicial member of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said Mr Williams’ wide range of experience in the law would serve him well on the bench of the District Court.
“Since being appointed Senior Counsel in 1999, Mr Williams has practised extensively in commercial, insurance, appellate, professional discipline, professional liability and common law, while as a junior barrister he also practised in other areas including criminal law,” Mr Smith said.
“He has appeared in a number of significant civil matters, including for the successful plaintiffs in the long running Bestcare Foods v Origin Energy litigation, one of the largest commercial cases conducted in the Supreme Court in recent years."
Mr Williams has participated in the Supreme Court’s pro bono scheme, accepting referrals to appear and provide advice in relation to many cases before the state’s highest courts.
Mr Williams, who is a keen sportsman, has also performed a large amount of pro bono work for athletes and sporting bodies, including the Australian Olympic Committee. He has chaired several appeals tribunals in relation to disputes over Olympic selection.
Since 2011, Mr Williams has been a NSW Bar Association-accredited Alternative Dispute Resolution Arbitrator.
Ms Norton will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 16 September 2013, while Mr Williams’ swearing in will take place on 23 September 2013.
Reform of Forum Sentencing [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Monday, 2 September 2013
The Government is reforming the Forum Sentencing program to increase victim participation, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
Forum Sentencing brings together offenders, victims and others affected by a crime with a facilitator to discuss what happened and the harm caused by the offence and to devise an ‘intervention plan’ for the offender.
A report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, released today, backed up its earlier finding that there was a lack of evidence showing that participation in Forum Sentencing reduces reoffending.
“This government is committed to programs which help offenders go straight and reduce the likelihood of them committing further crimes,” Mr Smith said.
“However, BOCSAR also found that victims of crime who participated in a forum usually found it a positive experience. The satisfaction of victims of crime with a just outcome is a worthwhile objective.”
The Department of Attorney General and Justice is currently changing the way the program will be run to boost victim participation. It is also proposing to broaden eligibility criteria to open up the program to people accused of minor offences.
Forum Sentencing will continue to be available in the current 13 centres across the state.
At the same time, program delivery will be centralised, freeing up resources to be redirected to two new programs – Youth on Track and Life on Track - which have a clear focus on reducing re-offending.
“Forum Sentencing was introduced by the former Government as a restorative justice initiative. We are returning to its original purpose,” Mr Smith said.
“This is a win-win outcome. The new operating model for Forum Sentencing allows the government to provide more benefits for victims of crime, while also delivering two new programs targeting reoffending behaviour.”
Details remain to be finalised, but the changes are expected to take effect from early 2014. Consultation with affected staff and union representatives are ongoing.
$12 Million to reduce juvenile crime [PDF, 126kb]
Issued: Thursday, 29 August 2013
NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC today announced over $12 million in Government funding to support vulnerable young people who are at risk of becoming entrenched in the criminal justice system.
The money will be provided over the next three years to community organisations under the Juvenile Justice Joint Support Program and will address the criminogenic risks of young people.
The program will provide casework management, employment placement and support, crisis and long term accommodation as well as family intervention services.
“Casework allows intervention to be tailored to each young person’s needs, and risks of reoffending. It may include referral to accommodation, education, as well as job search and living skills, budgeting or pre-vocational training. Services may also work with the young person’s family to help address family issues,” Mr Smith said.
“The new Joint Support Program concentrates on outcomes, flexibility and a continuum of service for young people in the criminal justice system,” he said.
“This program is based on “what works” principles. We have moved from one year to three year funding contracts, allowing Juvenile Justice and funded organisations to work more closely together to ensure young people are receiving the support they need.”
The program targets young people who are supervised by Juvenile Justice in the community and have been assessed as at risk of re-offending and in need of support.
“We know that young people often offend for a number of reasons, including homelessness, family and peer influence and drug and alcohol addiction. The Joint Support Program will address those issues on a case by case basis and support will be tailored to reduce the young person’s risk of reoffending,” Mr Smith said.
Organisations were invited to tender for funding in each Juvenile Justice region. Applications were very competitive and a rigorous assessment process was undertaken to select preferred proposals from the 56 applications received.
Funding agreements have been signed with successful tenderers. They are:
- Metropolitan Region: Relationships Australia, Marist Youth Care, Southern Youth & Family Services, CatholicCare and Mission Australia
- Northern Region: Regional Youth Support Service, Centacare New England, CatholicCare, PCYC NSW, Allambi Youth Services, Each Ltd
- Western Region: Mission Australia, Albury/Wodonga Youth Emergency Services
Commonwealth forces states to pay for its failed people smuggling policy [PDF, 108kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 28 August 2013
NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC has criticised the Federal Government for forcing the states and territories to bear the cost of its failure to stop people smuggling.
“It currently costs us as much as $60,900 a week to keep accused and convicted people smugglers in NSW jails – all just because the Commonwealth has failed to stop the tide,” Mr Smith said.
“The people of NSW have had to pick up the tab for running trials against people smugglers and keeping those convicted and awaiting trial in custody.”
States and territories raised the issue repeatedly with the Federal Labor government, most recently at the July conference of Corrective Services Ministers.
“The Labor Government has forced the states and territories to bear this unfair cost – a direct consequence of their failure to stop the boats.”
“It is estimated that states and territories have spent $75m in the past two decades accommodating people smuggler inmates in their jails – without receiving federal funding for it,” Mr Smith said.
Based on the numbers in custody and the average, all inclusive costs per inmate in NSW jails, and the costs of trials, it is estimated the failed Federal policy has costs NSW more than $15 million over the past three years. Currently NSW Correctional Centres are housing 24 convicted people smugglers and 6 still awaiting trial.
“On top of the cost of being in prison, usually for at least three to five years, NSW has had to pay for the cost of trials, translators and special health needs.”
Sydney Silk appointed as a Supreme Court Judge [PDF, 141kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Rowan Darke SC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.
“Mr Darke has worked as a barrister for more than a quarter of a century, practising primarily in general equity and commercial law, insurance, trade practices and professional negligence ,” Mr Smith said.
“In recent years, his practice has increasingly involved appellate work and he has also acted as a commercial arbitrator.”
Mr Darke, who was born and raised in Bathurst, holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours Class 2) and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney.
He began his legal career as an Associate to (the late) Justice John Lockhart at the Federal Court in 1985 and was admitted to the Bar in the same year.
In 1986 he commenced practice at the Bar as a Reader on the Eleventh Floor of Selborne/Wentworth Chambers.
In 1987 he joined Tenth Floor Selborne Chambers (which later amalgamated with Tenth Floor Wentworth) where he has remained until this day.
Mr Darke was appointed as a Senior Counsel in 2001. In recent years, he has been an instructor for the Bar Practice Course and a director of the Barristers’ Sickness and Accident Fund.
He has also served as a director of the South Eastern Sydney Area Health Service and chaired its Audit Committee. In connection with those roles, he served briefly on the board of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation.
Mr Darke will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on 16 August 2013.
“I congratulate Mr Darke on his appointment and wish him every success in his new role,” Mr Smith said.
New Resources to Help Young People When a Loved One is Missing [PDF, 124KB]
Issued: Friday, 2 August
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today launched In the Loop, a new resource to help young people who are dealing with the disappearance of a loved one.
“This is the first time in Australia that a resource has been created by and for young people who have had someone close to them go missing,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said the booklet gives an insight into what young people are going through and how their friends and carers can support them.
“In the Loop reflects the thoughts and experiences of young people, how they cope with their loss and how they want to be treated during this difficult time,” he said.
“A recurring theme when the booklet was being developed was that young people don’t want their families to ‘protect them’ by withholding information or leaving them out of discussions about the disappearance.”
“In the Loop includes colourful artwork which powerfully demonstrates how the reassuring comments of adults are received by young people dealing with the confusion and uncertainty surrounding a disappearance.”
The Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit (FFMPU) has been convening support group meetings around the state with young people over the past 15 months.
“The young people involved in the meetings have contributed most of the content and illustrations in the book, with the support of their carers, the FFMPU and two social work students from the University of NSW,” Mr Smith said.
The launch of In the Loop: Young People Talk about Missing is among a series of events being held during National Missing Persons Week.
In Australia, an estimated 35,000 people are reported missing each year, although the majority of these people are located within a short period of time. For each person that goes missing, an average of 12 people will be affected.
The Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit has helped almost 400 families and has fielded approximately 170 enquiries per month since it began operating in 2000.
The unit, which is funded by the Department of Attorney General and Justice, is the only service in Australia that operates with the sole purpose of providing free counselling and other practical and emotional assistance to families and friends of missing people.
Attorney General to appeal [PDF, 178kb]
Issued: Thursday, 25 July 2013
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC has instructed the Crown Solicitor to lodge an appeal in the recent case of R v B, an offender who was given a good behaviour bond after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault against his daughter.
“I have taken this unusual step because I was deeply disturbed by the circumstances of this case. I am of the view that mistakes were made in the case and believe the penalty imposed is manifestly inadequate,” Mr Smith said.
“The sexual assault of a child is an outrageous breach of trust and the penalty must reflect the seriousness of the offence.”
The Attorney General has instructed the Crown Solicitor to lodge an appeal, to be run by senior counsel.
The appeal will be lodged with the Court of Criminal Appeal in due course, and be listed for hearing in the usual way.
“My decision to appeal, despite the decision by the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions not to, is no criticism of the director.”
It is inappropriate to comment further on the case while the appeal is under way.
Attorney General to consider appeal following decision of DPP [PDF, 206kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 17 July 2013
The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to appeal against the sentence given to the offender who committed aggravated sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault against his daughter.
This decision was made independently of government and the Attorney General has no authority to direct the Director of Public Prosecutions in his prosecutorial functions.
Given the understandable community concern regarding this case, the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has taken the very unusual step of calling for the file so that he may consider appealing against the sentence himself.
The action taken by the Attorney General is in no way a criticism of the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Smith's decision in relation to an appeal will be announced in due course.
While this matter is under consideration it is inappropriate to make any further comment.
Circle Sentencing and Care Circles say thank you to support agencies in Nowra [PDF, 209kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 2 July 2013
The many agencies that have contributed to the success of Circle Sentencing and Care Circles in Nowra will be recognised at a NAIDOC Week ceremony at Nowra Courthouse on 10 July 2013.
“Circle Sentencing and Care Circles rely on the support of a range of agencies in order to achieve their goals in rehabilitating Aboriginal offenders or developing and implementing appropriate care plans for Aboriginal children and their families,” said Nowra Circle Sentencing and Care Circles Project Officer Gail Wallace.
“Today is an opportunity to thank the agencies for the services they provide which include legal representation, supervision, education, family support and treatment for mental illness and drug and alcohol problems.”
Representatives from 17 agencies will be presented with certificates of appreciation.
Circle Sentencing is an alternative sentencing process for Aboriginal offenders. The offender is required to discuss the impact of their crime with an intimate circle that includes respected Aboriginal Elders, a Magistrate and often a victim.
“The Circle tailors a sentence to the offender that fits the crime and helps them to address the root causes of their criminal behaviour,” Ms Wallace said.
“The process doesn’t end when the sentence is delivered – it continues in the community as the Elders and the agencies we are recognising today work hard to get the offender back on the right path.”
There have been 95 Circle Sentence sittings in Nowra since the program began in 2002.
The Care Circles program encourages more culturally appropriate decision making and care plans for Aboriginal children and families.
“Conducted in an informal setting, Care Circles give Aboriginal families and respected community members an opportunity to have their say on where children should live and what support they need,’ Ms Wallace said.
There have been 21 Care Circles in Nowra over the three years the program has been operating.
The NAIDOC Week ceremony will be held at Nowra Courthouse from 9am-10.30am on 10 July 2013. The ceremony will also include the launch of an Aboriginal art exhibition. The artworks of local Aboriginal TAFE students will be on display at the courthouse for two weeks.
Parolee supervision increased [PDF, 123kb]
Issued: Friday, 28 June 2013
A review of the case plans of high risk sex offenders on parole has found “no significant concerns” about their management in the community, Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC said today.
“The findings give me some comfort that recent events represent an isolated case. However, we continue to await a broader review of the parole system, and the specific review by James Wood QC of the case in question,” he said.
“I want to be absolutely sure that community safety is paramount in decisions regarding the granting of parole by the State Parole Authority,” he said.
Findings of the internal review of the supervision of sex offenders on parole include:
The review, which will not be released for security reasons, also identified the need to increase the verification of information provided by parolees, and to update case plans in a timely manner.
- all offenders had risk assessments complete
- case management plans “reflected appropriate risk factors and management strategies”
- the frequency of contact with the parolees had increased by an average of 16 per cent for sex offenders and 22 per cent for high risk offenders over the past three months
- 92 per cent of offenders had met their required contact frequency, while the remaining 8 per cent of cases were within a few days of meeting the required frequency
- Within the last year, only 3.4% of sex offenders on parole were charged with further sexual offences (including one dating back 30 years). All had their parole revoked.
“I have been assured by the Corrective Services Commissioner that these remaining issues are being addressed as a matter of urgency,” Mr Smith said.
The Community Corrections division was recently formed from a merger of two separate units. The previous structure lacked consistency in terms of who managed which offenders and according to which standards.
The review highlights how the new structure has set minimum standards and introduced a new risk assessment system which considers not just the risk of reoffending but also the potential impact on the community.
“By merging the two units and setting clear standards, duplications can be avoided and the community can be better assured that parolees are appropriately supervised.”
“During the transition period, contact frequencies have already increased for more than a quarter of the offenders under review. New processes have also been put in place for the monitoring of the most serious offenders.”
“While there is unfortunately no failsafe way of predicting the behaviour of human beings, parole offers an opportunity to supervise offenders and facilitate their integration into the community.”
“On the other hand, those high risk violent and sexual offenders who have shown no sign of rehabilitation, can be detained in custody, or kept under strict supervision orders.”
“I also want to be certain that the processes for deciding who is ready to be released, and under what conditions, are sound. This is why I have asked for a review of the parole process and an inquiry into a recent case which has caused great community concern.”
“I will ensure we will implement the necessary change to make this system as safe as it can be.”
James Wood to examine parole decision [PDF,108kb]
Issued: Friday, 21 June 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today asked retired Justice James Wood QC to examine the circumstances of a grant of parole to an offender who allegedly assaulted a woman at Hunters Hill this week.
“Justice Wood is one of Australia’s foremost lawyers with great expertise in a range of aspects of the criminal justice system,” Mr Smith said.
“I have asked him to urgently report on the details of the case in question, so the questions of the community can be answered.”
Justice Wood has been asked to:
Inquire and report on the circumstances relating to the release on parole of Terrence John Leary with particular regard to his custodial record and:
1. the history of the Parole Board’s reviews and recommendations
2. the conditions that were imposed when parole was granted, and
3. the enforcement of those conditions
He is expected to report by the end of July.
“I also have put the State Parole Authority on notice of the community concern,” Mr Smith said.
“The community expects that offenders seeking parole prove why they shouldn’t stay in jail, rather than why they should be released.”
“And let there be no doubt - offenders who breach their parole can expect to have their parole being immediately revoked.”
“I have asked for reports on various aspects of the parole system and our supervision of offenders in the community because I want to ensure that the system works as it should.”
“Corrective Services NSW have in place a sound supervision system, which was restructured earlier this year to avoid duplication and ensure all offenders in the community are receiving the supervision they need.”
“Two branches of Corrective Services were merged to form one Community Corrections Division. These two branches had effectively been doing the same work using different standards and in nine towns Corrective Services was actually renting two separate office premises to house the two branches.”
“Now, the system has been streamlined and all offenders will be supervised from 60 locations around the state. Offenders who are assessed as higher risk will continue to greater supervision from locations closer to where they live.”
“The Opposition is scaremongering on that issue.”
Criminal barrister appointed as a District Court Judge
Issued: Thursday, 20 June 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Stephen Hanley SC as a judge of the District Court of NSW.
“Mr Hanley has been a leading criminal defence barrister in NSW for more than a quarter of a century, representing defendants charged with a range of serious and complex offences, including murder, terrorism and money laundering,” Mr Smith said.
He appeared in some of the first people smuggling and sex slave trafficking trials in NSW and represented defendants charged over one of the largest drug importations in Australian history.
Mr Hanley represented people called to give evidence at the Wood Royal Commission into Police Corruption, the Royal Commission into Drug Trafficking and hearings conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Police Integrity Commission, the Crime Commission of NSW and the National Crime Authority.
He has also regularly appeared in court on behalf of Aboriginal clients on a pro bono basis.
Mr Hanley is the Chairman of the Bar Association’s Legal Aid Committee and is on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Commission.
He holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Masters of Laws (majoring in Public International Law) from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts (Modern History and English) from the University of New England.
Mr Hanley began his legal career as a solicitor in 1977 and established his own specialist law practice in 1979. He was admitted to the Bar in 1986 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2010.
Mr Hanley will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 15 July 2013.
Media statement regarding Hunters Hill attack [PDf, 185kb]
Issued: Thursday, 20 June 2013
Last night a young woman was attacked at a bus stop in Hunters Hill. An alleged offender has now been charged with a range of offences in connection to the incident.
“I thank members of the public for their vigilance and police for their quick response to this terrifying incident,” Attorney General and the Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC said today.
“This matter raises some serious matters, and I have already asked my department for an urgent briefing about the case.”
“I am advised he was released to parole in August last year after being refused parole on six different occasions between 2005 and 2010. His15-year non-parole period expired 13 January, 2005.”
“He had served 22 and a half years of a 24 year sentence. He had almost seven months remaining on his balance of parole.”
“The State Parole Authority originally decided to grant parole after considering submissions from the Serious Offenders Review Council and the victim’s family.”
“The State Parole Authority has immediately revoked the alleged offender’s parole this morning,” Mr Smith said.
“In light of recent events in Victoria, last week I asked Corrective Services NSW for a review of the handling of serious sex offenders on parole. This review has now been widened to include the handling of serious offenders whose offence had a sexual component.”
“Earlier this year, I also asked the Law Reform Commission to review our parole system to see how we can do better. This will be a detailed and broad review,” Mr Smith said.
“We are tough on violent offenders and to protect the community we have introduced laws that can keep repeat serious violent offenders in custody or under supervision beyond the end of their sentence. Laws allowing the detention or extended supervision of serious sex offenders have already existed for several years.”
Two new magistrates for NSW [PDF, 108kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointments of the Queensland State Coroner, Michael Barnes, and Administrative Decisions Tribunal judicial member, Carolyn Huntsman, as magistrates of the Local Court of NSW and as industrial magistrates.
“Magistrate Barnes and Ms Huntsman bring a combined total of 55 years of legal experience to the bench of the local court,” Mr Smith said.
For the past 10 years, Magistrate Barnes has served as Queensland’s inaugural State Coroner and periodically as the Acting Deputy Chief Magistrate of Queensland.
Prior to joining the Queensland judiciary, Magistrate Barnes was Head of the School of Justice Studies at the Queensland University of Technology.
Magistrate Barnes has also worked as chief officer of the Complaint Section of the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission, principal solicitor of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and as a solicitor and partner in a small legal firm.
Ms Huntsman has been a judicial member of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal since 2009 and has served on range of other tribunals including the Mental Health Review Tribunal and the Guardianship Tribunal.
She has also worked as a solicitor, specialising in criminal, immigration and administrative law. She appeared in the Local, Children’s and District Courts of NSW as well as the Federal Court of Australia and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Early in her career, Ms Huntsman worked extensively on legal issues facing Aboriginal people. She was a solicitor at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services Secretariat and a researcher for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
Ms Huntsman and Mr Barnes are both accredited mediators.
Ms Huntsman will be sworn in as a magistrate of the Local Court of NSW and as an industrial magistrate on 15 July 2013. Magistrate Barnes will be sworn in on 26 August 2013.
NSW invests in new courts and early intervention [PDF, 124kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 18 June 2013
The NSW Government will build new courthouses, harness technology to make the justice system more efficient and invest in prisoner rehabilitation services and an early intervention program for troubled youth, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
Mr Smith said the 2013-14 Budget delivered over $120 million for the construction of new courts and upgrades of existing facilities, including:
• $63 million towards the construction of the Newcastle Courthouse (to be the largest NSW courthouse outside of Sydney);
• $19.5 million towards the construction of the courthouse at the new Coffs Harbour Justice Precinct; and
• $38 million for renovations of existing courthouses, including major projects at Hornsby, Manly, Penrith, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong.
The Government is investing $3 million in the implementation of a new electronic jury management system that will speed up the jury assembly process and make it possible for jurors to serve at a time that is more convenient for them.
“For the first time, people summoned for jury service will be able to nominate dates when they are unavailable and will be able to submit applications online, rather than by mail,” Mr Smith said.
The Budget provides $5.3 million for improvements to the electronic exchange of data between police and the courts and $3.5 million for a project that will enable the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to electronically file and update indictments with courts.
In addition to a recurrent annual allocation of around $70million, victims of crime will receive a one-off, additional allowance of almost $130 million for grants expenditure to fund unresolved claims lodged under the old compensation scheme. This grants expenditure has been booked in the 2012-13 accounts. Excluding this item, funding for Crime Prevention and Community Services increased in the 2013-14 budget.
The Government also continues to invest in rehabilitation programs for prisoners with an additional $2.5 million this financial year to design and build innovative education and training centres which will run programs to reduce re-offending.
The funding has been allocated for two Intensive Learning Centres at Lithgow and Mid North Coast Correctional Centres, in a unique partnership with the Designing Out Crime Research Centre at Sydney’s University of Technology.
“Poor literacy and high levels of unemployment are known to be key factors in re-offending, and these classrooms are specifically designed learning environments to help inmates stay engaged with learning.”
“A workforce of 30 inmates, including 20 Aboriginal people, will construct the modular classroom components at St Heliers Correctional Centre at Muswellbrook which are reassembled at their destination.”
A further $1.5 million has also been allocated to upgrade the specialised secure inmate transport fleet which includes retro-fitting GPS tracking and digital video recorder (DVR) technology to activate real-time tracking and recording of all vehicles and the inmates inside.
Mr Smith said $2 million would be invested in the Youth on Track scheme which will help young people at risk of committing crime to stay out of trouble.
“Starting on July 1, Youth on Track will provide ‘at risk’ young people with services to deal with issues such as substance abuse, educational problems, anger, mental illness and family dysfunction,” Mr Smith said.
“What’s groundbreaking about this program is that it will be staging much earlier interventions, providing services to reduce offending behaviour that are usually only available to young people once they have been convicted of an offence.”
The Budget commits almost $2.6 million for the completion of upgrades to Cobham and Riverina Juvenile Justice Centres.
The Budget provides Legal Aid NSW with $755,000 to deliver legal services to homeless people at shelters, health facilities and community centres in the Hunter, Richmond Tweed, Southern East and Riverina regions.
Mr Smith said the government would also continue to support the Work Development Orders (WDO) scheme that enables disadvantaged people to clear unpaid fines by engaging in unpaid work or educational programs.
“Legal Aid NSW will again receive over a million dollars to help disadvantaged people in regional areas take part in the WDO scheme and address issues such as homelessness and mental illness,” Mr Smith said.
NSW turns the screw on number plate thieves [PDF, 112kb]
Issued: Saturday, 15 June 2013
Tamper resistant screws will be installed in thousands of NSW vehicle number plates as part of a campaign to reduce the rate of stealing from motor vehicles, Police Minister Michael Gallacher and Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“This campaign builds on the success of Operation Tabella in 2009, which saw tamper resistant number plates installed on 12,000 vehicles in the areas of Sydney with the higher rates of number plate theft,” Mr Gallacher said.
“NSW Police conducted a review of these vehicles 10 months after Operation Tabella and found that only four vehicles had fallen victim to number plate theft.”
On average, a number plate is stolen from one in 400 vehicles in Sydney each year.
Over coming months, police will conduct Operation Tabella 2, where tamper resistant screws will be installed in vehicles at a range of locations, including Bankstown, Blacktown, Brisbane Waters, Cabramatta, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Green Valley, Lake Illawarra, Lake Macquarie, Liverpool, Macquarie Fields, Mt Druitt, Newcastle, Parramatta, Quakers Hill, Tuggerah Lakes, and Wollongong.
Mr Smith said reducing number plate theft would also help reduce other crimes.
“Stolen number plates are often reattached to vehicles used in petrol theft, robberies and toll evasion, so if criminals are unable to access stolen plates they may think twice about committing these crimes,” Mr Smith said.
The NSW government’s Steal From Motor Vehicle strategy will also include:
exploring changes to car park design and other options to reduce the opportunity to steal items from vehicles;
working with stakeholders to develop guidelines for public car parks to reduce their vulnerability to criminal activity; and
a targeted awareness campaign reminding people not to leave valuables in their vehicles.
An online register for GPS and other mobile devices is being explored, and crime prevention design standards for service stations are currently being developed.
The campaign to reduce stealing from motor vehicles was developed in consultation with NSW Police, Transport for NSW, Designing Out Crime Research Centre, Insurance Council of Australia, Shopping Centre Council of Australia, Parking Association of Australia, Australian Retailers Association and the Service Stations Association.
For more information about car security, visit the NSW Government’s crime prevention website: www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au. The website contains a suite of audit tools to help owners and managers of car parks to reduce the risk of steal from motor vehicle offences occurring.
NSW leads the country in new jury management system [PDF, 107kb]
Issued: Saturday, 15 June 2013
People in NSW could be summoned to jury service by SMS and provide information about the most suitable dates when they can serve on a jury via their mobile phone or tablet computer under a $4.2 million overhaul of the jury management system, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“Next financial year we investing $3million in a new electronic jury management system, which will make the process of selecting jurors more efficient and user friendly for potential jurors and staff alike,” he said.
“The new system will speed up the jury assembly system and uses 21st century technology in the management of jury rolls,” he said.
The Jury Management System creates rolls of randomly selected jurors, issues notices and summonses, manages their selection and empanelment, and processes the payment for serving jurors.
“The system will allow jurors to interact with the court, it will process applications to be exempted or excused and provide information about jury service easily and simply via their mobile or tablet.”
Jurors who cannot attend at particular dates due to holidays or other commitments will be able to nominate dates when they are unavailable to serve, making the management of the jury process more efficient and less intrusive for potential jurors.
“Jury duty is an important civic duty, but we should do our part to make it easy for jurors to serve,” Mr Smith said.
“Laws requiring employers to pay workers on jury duty their full wage for up to two weeks have made it easier for jurors to perform this important community service.”
Last financial year 8,748 jurors were selected to serve on trials lasting from one day to several months.
Mr Smith said the innovative Jury Management System had already attracted attention from other states.
“I am proud to say NSW is leading the way in this area, and we will be investing $3million in next week’s budget in this technology.”
The system uses industry leading security with full audit trails to ensure no unauthorised access to information about jurors.
New service to get offenders' lives on track [PDF, 147kb]
Issued: Saturday, 15 June 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced a new case management service aimed at reducing adult reoffending by addressing the root causes of behaviour that leads to crime.
“Life on Track will protect the community and victims of crime by identifying adult defendants at a high risk of further contact with the criminal justice system and putting them on a law abiding path,” Mr Smith said.
“The service will tailor personalised plans for eligible defendants that address issues that contribute to criminal behaviour, such as drug and alcohol dependency, mental illness and financial problems,” Mr Smith said.
“It is not an alternative to going to court - all Life on Track participants will still have to answer the charges they are facing and the service will operate independently of the criminal proceedings.”
Defendants do not need to have entered a guilty plea to be considered for the service. However, Life on Track will not available to anyone charged with a sex offence or who has been refused bail.
Life on Track will begin in July and is expected to work with up to 600 defendants over the first 12 months.
Participants will initially be drawn from Bankstown, Sutherland and Kogarah local courts in Sydney and in Lismore, Ballina, Casino and Kyogle local courts in northern NSW. Life on Track could be extended to other locations following a review after 12 months.
The service will be funded by the NSW Government and operated by non-government organisations.
Life on Track will streamline the process of conducting risk and needs assessments for defendants and provide a single entry point to programs and services at court.
The new service follows the recent introduction of Youth on Track, an early intervention scheme designed to prevent troubled young people from becoming entrenched in criminal behaviour.
Prison dogs bring Diggers' trauma to heal [PDF, 145kb]
Issued: Thursday, 13 June 2013
An innovative Australian-first program using inmates to train assistance dogs is providing new hope for injured Australian diggers.
NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC today attended the first official graduation of the Dogs for Diggers program which has been developed at Bathurst Correctional Centre.
Mr Smith said the program utilised carefully selected minimum security inmates to transform ill and mistreated canines into highly trained assistance dogs, which were then handed over to injured diggers.
“This wonderful program rehabilitates inmates, unwanted or neglected dogs and traumatised returned servicemen and women,’’ said Mr Smith.
“By caring for and training ill and mistreated animals, inmates are gaining new skills, a strong sense of responsibility and purpose that will help them better reintegrate with society on their release.”
“These dogs – some saved from death row – are getting a second chance at life. Their inmate trainers transform them into healthy, fit and disciplined animals that perform a variety of tasks for their future owners.”
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the dogs are placed with selected current and former Australian servicemen and women who have suffered physical and psychological injuries.
“These veterans richly deserve the help of companion dogs that will help them on the road to recovery,” Mr Severin said.
“Many of the diggers receiving dogs have returned from combat service in Afghanistan and other highly dangerous locations and are suffering psychological injuries including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.”
“It’s clear that the therapy dogs are responsible for a long list of benefits to the diggers while the inmates are finding new purpose and a goal for the future in training these animals for a group of people they respect.”
Four dogs graduated at today’s ceremony with their inmate trainers handing them over to the digger recipients. Two dogs that had already graduated from the six-month course also returned for today’s ceremony with their veteran owners.
Mr Smith said the Dogs for Diggers program began in September 2012 in partnership with Young Diggers, a non-profit veteran welfare group that provides support to returned Australian service personnel and their families. Young Diggers refers suitable recipients to the Dogs for Diggers program.
“Everyone involved in the program receives significant benefits,’’ Mr Smith said. “The dogs reduce the diggers’ stress and anxiety, improve their psychological and emotional state, break down the barriers of isolation and loneliness and restore confidence.”
“The inmate handlers meet the veterans at a two-day handover where the inmates teach the diggers the appropriate commands and any special needs of their new assistance dog.”
“The high point of this program is the emotional handover. This is when the diggers finally receive their long-awaited canine companions and the inmates realise the huge positive impact they’ve made to the diggers’ lives.”
Bathurst MP Paul Toole said: “I am proud that such an innovative, Australian-first program was started in Bathurst and that it will provide a trifecta in helping veterans, inmates and unwanted dogs.”
Bathurst Correctional Centre General Manager Bill Fittler, who pioneered the Australian-first program, said many people local people also supported and benefitted from Dogs for Diggers.
“The dogs and trainers also do intensive community service work with weekly visits to other partnership organisations including disabled, aged care and mental health facilities,” Mr Fittler said.
“The program involves education, vocational, therapeutic and transitional programs which have been developed through evidence-based adult corrections research.”
“Inmates attend TAFE and undertake a Certificate II in Animal Studies, learn skills such as resume writing, interview skills and how to develop pathways to employment.”
Mr Fittler also paid special thanks to Mars Petcare Australia, a global business with a local manufacturing centre. Mars has a continuing commitment to provide free food for the dogs and has also donated $40,000 toward the program. A total of $15,000 of the donated funds was spent building kennels which were constructed by Bathurst inmates while the remaining $25,000 is going towards the program’s ongoing running costs.
New Commissioner of Victims Rights appointed [PDF, 107kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 12 june 2013
Mandy Young has been appointed the first Commissioner of Victims Rights – a role that involves advancing the rights of victims of crime and assisting them in their interactions with government and non-government organisations, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
Ms Young, formerly Director of Victims Services of the Department of Attorney General and Justice, is taking over the new role to implement reforms to the support for victims of crime, including a new Code of Practice for the Charter of Victims Rights.
“The appointment of a Commissioner of Victims Rights provides a central point of contact for issues affecting victims of crime,” Mr Smith said.
“Victims of Crime can turn to the Commissioner if they feel government departments and support agencies are not helping them in the way they should.”
“Ms Young is well qualified for the position and has extensive experience in the field of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She also has the necessary administrative experience to implement our initiatives to support victims of crime,” he said.
Ms Young said: "I have been working for and with victims of crime and abuse for over a decade, not just in administration and policy, but also on the front line. As a trained social worker I have continued to provide crisis counselling and support directly to victims of sexual assault to make sure that I stay in touch with the needs of victims and what is happening on the ground."
"I have a good understanding of the experiences of victims of crime, and the sorts of things it takes to help them get back on their feet. And I am looking forward to the new challenge as the first NSW Commissioner for Victims Rights," she said.
The statutory duties of the Victims Commissioner include overseeing support services for victims of crime and ensuring compliance of government agencies with the Charter of Victims Rights, including reporting breaches to Parliament and helping to find ways to make sure that victims are able to participate in justice processes.
The Commissioner will also manage complaints, advise government and oversee the promotion of training, public awareness and research on issues affecting victims of crime.
Ms Young will take up the position immediately for a term of one year, when the functions and responsibilities of the role will be reviewed and a Commissioner appointed for a longer term.
As the Commissioner, Ms Young will also chair the Victims Advisory Board, which brings together six community representatives and six representatives of agencies who deal with victims of crime, including the DPP and Police.
The Victims Advisory Board advises the Attorney General on policies, practices and reforms, consults victims and victims support groups and promotes legislative and administrative reform to meet their needs.
The Attorney General is now calling for community members who have experience and insight into the issues facing victims of crime to apply for positions on the board by expression of interest, outlining:
- their understanding of issues relating to victims of crime
- their experience of working with victims of crime
- their experience in policy and service delivery to victims of crime
- their ability to contribute to a high level advisory committee
QC appointed as a Supreme Court Judge of NSW [PDF, 105kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Stephen Robb QC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.
“Mr Robb has been a barrister for more than 35 years, practising in a wide spectrum of commercial litigation and appearing in many cases of significant complexity,” Mr Smith said.
His areas of expertise include appellate law, equity, corporations, banking, building and construction, insurance, insolvency and professional negligence.
Mr Robb began his legal career as a solicitor in 1976 after graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws (first class honours) and a Bachelor of Arts.
In 1978, Mr Robb was called to the Bar and began a two-year stint as a lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School.
In December 1992, he became one of the last barristers to be appointed as a Queens Counsel in NSW.
Mr Robb will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW on 20 June 2013.
New judge for the District Court of NSW [PDF, 108kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of barrister Peter Whitford SC as a judge of the District Court of NSW.
“Mr Whitford brings over twenty years of legal experience to the bench of the District Court,” Mr Smith said.
“While he has practised primarily in commercial law, he has worked across a broad range of matters in a variety of jurisdictions, both civil and criminal.”
Mr Whitford studied law at the University of Tasmania, graduating with first class honours and winning the James Backhouse Walker Prize (University Medal).
He was called to the NSW Bar in 1989 and served as the Associate to Sir William Deane (who was then a High Court judge) in 1990, before entering private practice in NSW in 1991. He has since been admitted as a barrister in the ACT, Victoria and Queensland. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 2004.
Mr Whitford has appeared in the High Court, the Federal Court and the Supreme Courts of NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland.
He advised the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in relation to the collapse of the Storm Financial Group and appeared for ASIC at the HIH Royal Commission.
Mr Whitford also represented News Limited and related companies in the C7 litigation and has appeared for the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service on multiple occasions, including at coronial inquiries into major bushfires.
He is a nationally accredited mediator and a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
Mr Whitford will be sworn in as a judge of the District Court of NSW on 24 June 2013.
More effective help for Victims of Crime [PDF, 117kb]
Issued: Thursday, 30 May 2013
The Government’s Victims Rights and Support Bill passed the Parliament, opening the way for the implementation of the new scheme which will deliver faster and more effective support for victims of crime, said Attorney General Greg Smith, SC.
The bill passed after an amendment from the Christian Democratic Party, which will allow certain claims from victims of child sexual assault to be accepted more than ten years after the victim turns 18.
“We have listened to victims of child sexual assault, who have said it often takes victims a long time to be ready to disclose the abuse they have suffered,” Mr Smith said.
“The amended scheme will now include a provision enabling the Victims Commissioner to accept claims from victims of child sexual assault for recognition payments, out of pocket expenses (up to $5000) and expenses for attending related criminal proceedings (up to $5000) beyond the ten year limit,” he said.
The new scheme is based on four pillars of support:
“No financial payment can ever make up for the trauma victims of crime suffer, and that is why this scheme is changing the focus to helping victims with counselling, and immediate financial assistance straight after the incident,” Mr Smith said.
- Immediate assistance, including relocation costs, urgent medical expenses and funeral costs
- Financial assistance, including loss of earnings and medical expenses
- Recognition payment in recognition of the violence and trauma experienced
“Victims and the groups that advocate on their behalf have told us that it is counselling that really helps victims get back on their feet. Immediate help and support are the most important things for victims of crime.”
“Under the current scheme victims have to wait more than 30 months for their claim to be finalised. That is not good enough, and our new scheme is designed to make the assessment of claim faster and easier.”
New Supreme Court judge for NSW [PDF, 139kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Mark Leeming SC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW and a judge of appeal.
“Mr Leeming is a highly regarded barrister who brings 20 years of professional legal experience to the bench of the Supreme Court,” Mr Smith said.
In private practice, Mr Leeming has specialised in the areas of commercial law and equity, constitutional and administrative law, intellectual property and trade practices.
He is also an accomplished writer, who has co-authored legal texts with the former judges Dyson Heydon and the late Roddy Meagher. He has also published dozens of legal papers.
Mr Leeming is a member of the Council of Law Reporting and is on the editorial boards of the Australian Bar Review and the Journal of Equity.
He has taught equity part-time at the University of Sydney since 1995 and has been the university’s Challis Lecturer in Equity for the past nine years.
Mr Leeming holds a Bachelor of Arts (first class honours and medal), a Bachelor of Laws (first class honours) and a PhD in Pure Mathematics from the University of Sydney.
Mr Leeming began his career as an Associate to Justice William Gummow at the Federal Court in 1993 and was appointed Associate to the then Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Anthony Mason, in 1994.
He was called to the Bar in 1995 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2006.
Mr Leeming will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge and judge of appeal on 3 June 2013.
Community heavyweights back graffiti removal day [PDF, 92kb]
Issued: Friday, 24 May 2013
Some of the largest community organisations in NSW will join forces on Sunday, October 20 for what promises to be the biggest Graffiti Removal Day yet, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
This year NSW Government and Rotary Down Under will run the State wide graffiti removal and prevention day with the support of a wide range of community organisations, including Australian Men’s Shed Association (NSW Branch), Scouts and Girl Guides.
“This is the first time such a broad cross section of community groups in NSW have volunteered their time to join the fight against graffiti,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith and representatives of the community organisations will today attend a graffiti removal demonstration at Boronia Park in Epping to launch Graffiti Removal Day 2013.
“It is inspiring to see there is already so much support for Graffiti Removal Day and we are now encouraging local councils, sporting clubs, businesses and other organisations to get involved,” Mr Smith said.
“A record turn-out would send a powerful message to graffiti vandals that the community will not tolerate their criminal and destructive behaviour.”
People can volunteer or nominate a clean-up site by completing the online registration form at www.graffitiremovalday.org.au . Rotary Down Under will ensure volunteers are provided with training, graffiti removal equipment and protective gear on the day.
Over 520 volunteers took part in last year’s Graffiti Removal Day, clearing more than 8,100 square metres of graffiti.
“The operation was a great success, with the efforts of volunteers saving the community over half a million dollars in graffiti clean-up costs,” said Rotary Down Under Executive Director, Bob Aitken.
Australian Men’s Shed Association state secretary Kevin Callinan said Graffiti Removal Day was an opportunity to be part of the solution to one of society’s problems.
“Graffiti is a source of great frustration to our members, and we don’t want to just sit on the sidelines and complain about it, we want to take action and get rid of it,” Mr Callinan said.
Scouts and Girl Guides believe involving young people in cleaning up graffiti could have a significant flow on effect in the community.
“Girl Guides can lead by example and show other young people that there is nothing artistic about spray painting tags on other people’s property,” said Peta Gillies, State Executive Officer, Girl Guides NSW and ACT.
“Graffiti Removal Day gives young people an opportunity to learn about teamwork and building civic pride,” said Scouts Chief Commissioner Doug Menzies.
Graffiti Removal Day will be held on Sunday, October 20 between 10am and 4pm.
Bail Act passes Parliament [PDF, 104kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 22 May 2013
The new Bail Act is due to commence in 12 months, after being passed by the Parliament today, Attorney General Greg Smith SC has said.
“It was an election commitment by this government to modernise the complex and inconsistent bail laws to make them easier to apply, and I am proud we delivered a better Bail Act,” Mr Smith said.
“After a review by the Law Reform Commission and extensive community consultation, we have replaced a complicated system of presumptions with a risk-management test.”
“The new Bail Act is all about putting the safety of the community, victims and witnesses first.”
When considering bail, police and the courts will need to decide if the accused poses an unacceptable risk of:
- endangering the safety of victims, witnesses or the community in general,
- interfering with witnesses or evidence,
- committing another serious offence, or
- failing to appear at court.
Strict bail conditions which mitigate any of these risks can be imposed by police bail sergeants or courts.
The last Labor government amended the bail legislation 57 times, making it more complex, confusing and inconsistent each time.
“We have now eliminated the inconsistencies and replaced it with a modern, more consistent Bail Act.”
The Bail Act will come into operation in a year’s time, to allow time to train police and judicial officers who will be applying it.
UnitingCare Burnside awarded Youth on Track contract [PDF, 195kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 15 May 2013
UnitingCare Burnside, an organisation with more than 100 years of experience in helping disadvantaged young people, will play a major role in operating the NSW Government’s new early intervention scheme, Youth on Track.
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced UnitingCare Burnside had been awarded the contract to provide case management services for the scheme which is designed to prevent juveniles as young as 10 becoming entrenched in crime.
Under Youth on Track, police and schools will refer young people considered to be at risk of committing crimes, to be assessed and provided with services that address their needs.
“UnitingCare Burnside will provide services to help young people deal with issues such as substance misuse, educational problems, anger, mental illness, and family dysfunction.”
Initially young people will be referred directly to Youth on Track after three police contacts, with the program expanding to include referrals from schools after six months.
UnitingCare Burnside, which has a long history of providing services for young people and supporting families, secured the contract after a tender process.
“It is often our most vulnerable children and young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system,” said Claerwen Little, Director of UnitingCare - Children,Young People and Families.
“Youth on Track will provide an important pathway, diverting young people away from detention and ensuring they get the help they need. This will enable better outcomes, improved life opportunities and fewer young people in detention,” Ms Little said
Youth on Track will firstly be implemented in the three regions of the state that have the largest number of young people who meet the criteria for participating in the scheme: the Mid North Coast Local Area Command, the Hunter (Newcastle LAC) and Western Sydney (Blacktown LAC).
It is estimated about 300 young people will be referred to Youth on Track in the first 12 months with the program to begin in July.
For more information: www.youthontrack.lawlink.nsw.gov.au.
Attorney General launches Law Week [PDF, 124kb]
Issued: Monday, 13 May 2013
The likelihood of having a ‘brush with the law’ will increase during National Law Week, with more than 100 free legal information events to be held in NSW alone, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
Mr Smith and Law Society of NSW Senior Vice President, Ros Everett, will today officially open Law Week 2013 at a legal expo in Church Street Mall in Parramatta. Expos will also be held in Campbelltown (16 May) and Dubbo (17 May).
“Many events are being held in busy public places to ensure people of all walks of life are involved in Law Week, not just those with a keen interest in the law,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said everyone would have to deal with a legal issue at some stage in their life and Law Week would highlight the many services available to help them.
“There are events for people of almost all ages and backgrounds, including presentations on cyber bullying for teenagers, a forum for grandparents who are the primary carers of their grandchildren and a session on immigration law.”
Other Law Week events include:
National Law Week runs from May 13 –19. The theme of Law Week 2013 is Law and Justice in Your Community.
- a Walk for Justice on national Pro Bono day (14 May) sponsored by the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) to raise awareness about the importance of free access to justice and pro bono work in the legal community;
- mock trials to show young people how the court system works;
- workshops in courts and libraries on a range of topics including domestic violence, family law, buying and selling a property, strata living, making a will and decisions about power of attorney.
For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit www.lawweek.com.au.
The Attorney General will officially open Law Week at Church Street Mall, Parramatta at 12pm.
New scheme to support victims of crime [PDF, 145kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced a new Victims Support Scheme that will result in victims of violent crime receiving faster and more effective help.
The Victims Support Scheme is part of a package of measures to support victims of crime, which also include a new Commissioner for Victims Rights, and a code of practice for the Charter of Victims’ Rights.
“We want to support victims of crime with measures that will make a difference, help them deal with the trauma and get them back on their feet quickly,” Mr Smith said.
“The new Victims Support Scheme will focus on giving victims assistance when they most need it, with comprehensive packages of care to be tailored to their individual circumstances,” he said.
The scheme will feature four pillars of support:
- Immediate assistance, including relocation costs, urgent medical expenses and funeral costs
- Financial assistance, including loss of earnings and medical expenses
- Recognition payment in recognition of the violence and trauma experienced
“The scheme will make it easier for victims to access free counselling and other services to aid them in their recovery. Financial support will be provided for urgent medical and dental treatment, home security upgrades or for crisis accommodation to keep victims safe from further violence,” Mr Smith said.
The Victims Support Scheme will replace the Victims Compensation Scheme which, according to an independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, was not meeting victims’ needs in a timely manner and was financially unsustainable.
The report says: “Our review has identified services and supports which are not currently provided by the scheme, but which would be beneficial to claimants and assist them to begin their healing process shortly following the act of violence.”
The Auditor General has also long criticised the scheme’s backlog of claims, which has resulted in claims taking about 31 months to be finalised.
“The existing scheme has become bogged down in processing claims, in many cases relating to incidents that happened more than a decade ago,” Mr Smith said.
One family sought compensation for the murder of a relative in 1957, while a 90-year-old lodged a claim for an alleged incident that occurred in the 1930s.
“The new processes are designed to drastically reduce waiting times and make sure the $72 million available to victims of crime each year goes to helping more people more quickly,” he said.
The new scheme will be simpler and offer a single point of contact, meaning victims will not need to be legally represented. In the past five years, $17m was paid from the scheme to cover legal costs.
“The scheme will allow for payments of up to $15,000 for recognition of trauma but the top priority will be to cover expenses directly related to a victim’s recovery.”
Claims made under the existing Victims Compensation Scheme will be transferred to the new scheme for consideration, but applicants may be eligible for an extra transition payment for existing claims.
Mr Smith today also announced a new code of practice for the Charter of Victims’ Rights that sets minimum standards of service and support for victims.
“The code will help ensure victims understand their rights and clarifies what is expected of the service providers and government agencies which assist them,” he said.
A Commissioner of Victims’ Rights will be appointed to oversee the code and monitor agencies for compliance.
Victims of Crime Assistance League vice president, Howard Brown welcomed the reforms.
“I support a scheme for victims that reduces red tape and results in their needs being addressed holistically,” Mr Brown said.
“Victims need to be treated with great compassion and understanding. They need someone to listen to them, and they need help to overcome the trauma. This is much more important than money. Financial compensation is often perceived as blood money and it can never compensate anyone for what they have endured.”
The executive officer of the Rape Crisis Centre, Karen Willis said: “This reform will help assist those who have experienced sexual assault to access counselling and other support to meet their immediate needs.”
“For those escaping domestic violence, counselling and other support will enable them to establish safety and to recover, which is a great outcome for them and their children,” she said.
$50,000 to redesign graffiti hotspot in Warrawong [PDF, 109kb]
Issued: Thursday, 2 May 2013
The NSW Government has awarded Wollongong City Council a $50,000 grant to transform a graffiti-covered laneway into a safe and attractive location, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“The laneway behind the Warrawong Community Centre and the Illawarra Legal Centre is in such a bad state that some residents feel unsafe walking through it,” Mr Smith said.
“Council will develop a landscape design aimed at turning the heavily vandalised thoroughfare into a clean and inviting space that the community can be proud of.”
Design options being explored include new lighting, seating and vibrant murals on walls that are currently strewn with graffiti.
“Improving the appearing of the laneway will encourage more foot traffic and increase natural surveillance of the area,” Mr Smith said.
“Vandals will think twice about spray painting walls if there are people around and they are likely to be caught.”
Council will also conduct an education campaign to encourage reporting of graffiti, with information to be provided in the languages most commonly spoken in Warrawong.
The campaign will target local residents, schools and users of the community and legal centres.
“While graffiti is a problem in the Warrawong area, it is significantly underreported,” Mr Smith said.
“The NSW Government has established a Graffiti Hotline that is making it easier for people to report incidents and is resulting in faster clean ups.”
The NSW Graffiti Hotline (free call 1800 707 125) operates from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). Callers can remain anonymous if they are concerned for their privacy or safety.
After receiving a report, hotline operators quickly send the information to the government agency or local council responsible for the clean up.
New bail bill to be introduced [PDF, 92kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 30 April 2013
New legislation modernising complex and inconsistent bail laws will be introduced into Parliament this week, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
The new Bail Act includes “unacceptable risk” as the primary decision making tool when police bail sergeants or courts determine if an alleged offender should be granted bail, or on what conditions.
“This legislation will put the safety of the community, victims and witnesses first, rather than focussing on the alleged offence according to a complex system of presumptions,” Mr Smith said.
When considering bail, police and the courts will need to decide if the accused poses an unacceptable risk of:
Police and courts can impose strict bail conditions to mitigate any of these risks, or grant unconditional bail for those deemed to pose no such risks.
- endangering the safety of victims, witnesses or the community in general,
- interfering with witnesses or evidence,
- committing another serious offence, or
- failing to appear at court.
“The legislation has the support of NSW Police who can enforce bail conditions and arrest those that fail to comply,” Mr Smith said.
The previous law was amended 85 times in 35 years, including 57 times in the 16 years of the last Labor governments.
“We promised to reform the bail laws, and we are delivering on that promise with this modern new bail model. It will eliminate anomalies and complexities and ensure consistency in decisions about bail,” he said.”
Mr Smith gave notice to Parliament today that he would be introducing the new legislation.
When passed, the new Bail Act is expected to come into operation next year, to allow time to train police and judicial officers who will be applying it.
Standard non-parole periods [PDF, 103kb]
Issued: Monday, 29 April 2013
The NSW government will reform the system of standard non-parole periods, which are designed to give judges guidance in sentencing offenders for certain offences, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
“As a practitioner with many years of experience in the criminal law, I firmly believe standard non-parole periods need to be overhauled.”
Standard non-parole periods were introduced in 2003 to provide guidance to judges and promote consistency and transparency in sentencing. Research by the Judicial Commission and Sentencing Council has shown that since their introduction, sentences have increased and become more consistent.
But Mr Smith said: “More needs to be done to bring the system of sentencing into line with community expectations.”
“The current system is inconsistent, and only applies to a small number of offences. For example, only four child sexual assault offences are currently included in the scheme.”
“I believe the community considers these offences as among the most heinous crimes and wants sentencing to reflect this.”
“We are also examining the ratio of standard non-parole periods to maximum sentences for varying offences, an inconsistency with no apparent logic,” he said.
“We need to bring some rigour into the system and this is a priority in our review of sentencing.”
The government will soon receive the final report from the Law Reform Commission into sentencing, and initial indications are that it will point the way to reform of the system of standard non-parole periods.
“We have already done extensive work in this area and are also examining guideline sentences,” he said.
“I want to make sentencing simpler to make sure judges get it right.”
Gillard wastes chance to crack down on gangs [PDF, 102kb]
Issued: Monday, 22 April 2013
The Federal Government has wasted another opportunity to work towards national anti-gang laws in the fight against organised criminal organisations, Attorney General Greg Smith SC, said today.
“After much posturing, the Commonwealth yesterday referred the issue of a possible referral of state powers regarding national criminal organisations laws back to the Standing Council on Law and Justice – the same body it withdrew these issues from earlier this month,” he said.
“The Gillard government has wasted valuable time in the fight against bikies and other criminal gangs, by playing ping pong with such an important issue.”
On April 4, Mr Smith had called on the Commonwealth to reinstate discussion of this issue to the agenda of the meeting of Attorneys General of the states, territories and the Commonwealth in Darwin.
“At that stage the Federal Government said it wanted these issues debated at COAG, but at COAG yesterday, this debate has been referred back to the Standing Council on Law and Justice, which will not meet again until October at the earliest,” Mr Smith said.
“We first called for a national approach in 2011. But the Gillard government is playing politics with this important issue because it is afraid of tackling it.”
“The people of Australia will see this for what it is: political posturing by a government which lacks the will for action.”
Bigger and better Liverpool court opens [PDF,122kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC will today officially open the new look Liverpool Courthouse, following a $7.5 million renovation that included the construction of a new courtroom.
“This is an important day for the Liverpool community and the NSW justice system,” Mr Smith said.
“Liverpool has one of the busiest suburban courts in NSW and the expansion of the building will ensure it can meet the needs of a rapidly growing area for many years to come.”
The courthouse has increased by 820 square metres to a total of 3,981 square metres. The building now has six courtrooms (including a call over court) and an enclosed glass dock has been installed in the largest courtroom.
Mr Smith said the number of interview rooms has increased from four to 10.
“Lawyers will be able to speak to prisoners in secure non-contact rooms. Previously they would have conducted their discussions in the cells complex,” Mr Smith said.
The holding cells at the courthouse have been upgraded to reduce the risk of prisoners harming themselves.
“The bars have been removed from the cells and replaced with transparent steel-framed viewing panels to provide Corrective Services NSW staff with a clear line of sight,” Mr Smith said.
Restricted areas for the judiciary have been made more secure and the Sheriff’s Office has been relocated from the first floor of the building to the more centrally located registry.
Mr Smith said the courthouse would be more comfortable for all court users including people with a disability.
“With a new lift, ramps, rails and accessible bathroom facilities, people with a disability will be able to move though the courthouse with dignity,” Mr Smith said.
“The building’s new façade will let in a large amount of natural light to create a more welcoming atmosphere.”
The renovations took 14 months to complete, with the courthouse closing while the work was undertaken.
“Not since the courthouse opened in 1972, has the building undergone such a major transformation,” Mr Smith said.
The Liverpool Courthouse finalises approximately 11,000 criminal matters and 700 civil matters each year.
Top Silk appointed Supreme Court Judge [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 11 April 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Fabian Gleeson SC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW and as a judge of appeal.
“Mr Gleeson has been a highly accomplished barrister for more than two decades, working primarily in commercial law,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Gleeson began his career at Freehill Hollingdale & Page (now known as Herbert Smith Freehills) in 1980 and was made a partner at the law firm five years later.
He became a barrister in 1991 and has maintained a private practice for the last 22 years. He was appointed a Senior Counsel in 2005.
Mr Gleeson’s main areas of practice have been corporations and insolvency, equity and commercial, insurance and re-insurance and professional liability.
He appeared at the HIH Royal Commission from 2001-2003 and has provided legal representation in a number of subsequent cases relating to the collapse of the insurance giant.
Mr Gleeson has also appeared in court matters relating to the failure of Lift Capital Partners and international derivatives trader MF Global.
In 2006, Mr Gleeson was a Senior Counsel at the Oil for Wheat Inquiry.
In the criminal sphere, Mr Gleeson recently appeared for Note Printing Australia in relation to foreign bribery charges. In 1999, he was junior counsel for merchant banker Simon Hannes in what was Australia’s largest insider trading trial.
Mr Gleeson has also appeared in relation to a number of disputes involving international arbitrations, written for a range of legal publications and worked as a part-time lecturer of law at the University of Sydney.
Mr Gleeson will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court and as a judge of appeal on 29 April 2013.
Commonwealth should prioritise fight against gangs [PDF, 105kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 9 April 2013
The Commonwealth should stop campaigning and start acting in joining states and territories in the fight against organised crime, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
“The NSW Government first raised the issue of uniform national anti-bikie legislation with Prime Minister Gillard in July 2011 and despite raising it several times, more than 18 months later she is still dragging her feet,” Mr Smith said.
“We were pleased when a month ago the Prime Minister finally announced that the Commonwealth was ready to work together in the fight against criminal organisations, including bikie gangs, but to date the only details we have are from a media release.”
Mr Smith spoke ahead of the biannual Standing Council on Law and Justice meeting at which Attorneys General of the states, territories and Commonwealth discuss issues in their portfolios.
“If the Commonwealth was really serious about tackling the issue of organised crime it would have taken today’s meeting of all the State’s Attorneys General to start detailing their plans,” he said
“Instead, the federal government has suddenly removed the issue of organised crime from the agenda at SCLJ without explanation.
“We call on Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfus QC to reinstate the item on the agenda and be prepared to discuss criminal organisations laws with the states and territories at SCLJ," Mr Smith said.
“The Gillard government has been making a lot of noise about this issue, but when it comes to outlining their plans at the appropriate forum, they are not forthcoming because they have no clear plan.
While we are waiting for details of the Federal Government’s proposal on national laws to crack down on criminal organisations, NSW has workable legislation in place.
Mr Smith said the NSW Police Force had had recent successes in taking illegal firearms off the streets, but they are fighting a difficult battle. “The greatest threat remains the shortfalls in custom controls and border protection measures which allow illegal guns into the country.”
“These are important issues that need to be discussed at a national level.”
First guide to Aboriginal wills [PDF, 109kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Australia’s first guide to help Aboriginal people make a culturally appropriate will should protect them and their kin financially, culturally and emotionally, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
The act of writing a will was confronting for many Australians but cultural barriers and a lack of expertise among the legal fraternity have resulted in indigenous Australians having the lowest rates of will-making in the country, Mr Smith said as he launched the new guide.
The Aboriginal Wills Handbook: A practical guide to making culturally appropriate wills for Aboriginal people provides clear cultural and legal advice for both legal practitioners and individuals on the issues surrounding making a legally valid will.
“This is a very significant book. We need to encourage Aboriginal people to make sure they have a legally valid will in place – one that reflects their wishes. Too often people believe they have nothing of value to include in a will, but people need to consider items of cultural and sentimental value,” he said.
The book is the result of three years’ work by Professor Prue Vines from the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales. Prof Vines researched and wrote the book after extensive consultations with Aboriginal people, and worked closely with NSW Trustee & Guardian, the State’s largest will making body.
“Dying without a will means intestacy legislation determines how assets are distributed but this is based on ‘bloodlines’ rather than the Aboriginal concept of extended kinship. This may mean for Aboriginal people that the wrong person could inherit and significant others may be excluded, adding to the cultural and emotional hurt felt at that time,” Prof Vines said.
“Importantly, a will enables clarification of the burial required by the deceased. This is useful given that 70 per cent of disputes about burial that end up in court involve an Aboriginal person,” she said.
“In addition to determining distribution of assets, a properly drafted will for an Aboriginal person can also enable protection of customary law obligations. This might include secret knowledge or information which should be passed on to a specific person when they are entitled but not before.”
“By using various devices including secret and half-secret trusts a will may be drafted to protect secret knowledge until it can be passed onto the correct person under customary Aboriginal law.”
Imelda Dodds, CEO, NSW Trustee & Guardian said that she is proud of the work undertaken by Prof Vines and the quality of the advice contained in the book.
“We know that many Australians struggle with the concept of confronting their own mortality when writing a will, along with pondering whether they have enough assets to make it worth it. This is doubly so for Aboriginal people, who often face a number of cultural issues like kinship that are not adequately covered by NSW intestacy laws.”
“This book aims to be a resource which will empower Aboriginal communities and individuals by showing that drafting a culturally appropriate will enables them to take control of their lives and assists self-determination,” she said.
The book, published by NSW Trustee & Guardian, will be available for download for free from its website www.tag.nsw.gov.au as well as from NSW Trustee & Guardian branches around NSW.
Daylight saving ends on Sunday [PDF, 256kb]
Issued: Friday, 5 April 2013
Daylight saving in NSW will end at 3am on Sunday when clocks will go back by one hour, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
“Many mobile phones and computers will automatically revert to non-daylight saving time at 3am but people who rely on older timepieces should wind them back before they go to bed on Saturday night,” Mr Smith said.
Daylight saving will begin again in NSW on Sunday, 6 October 2013, when clocks will go forward one hour at 2am.
NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT all apply the same daylight saving periods. Daylight saving is not observed in Queensland, Western Australia or the Northern Territory.
Further information about daylight saving is available at www.communityrelations.lawlink.nsw.gov.au.
Upgrade of Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre [PDF,105kb]
Issued: Thursday, 4 April 2013
Emu Plains Juvenile Justice Centre has closed following the completion of three new accommodation units at the Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre in St Marys, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC announced today.
Mr Smith said that stage one of a $40 million upgrade of Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre in St Marys has been completed.
“The work included the addition of three new accommodation units, expansion of the Education and Training Unit, refurbishment of the Justice Health clinic and a new oval.”
Mr Smith said that while the Emu Plains Centre filled a short term specific need, the upgrade to Cobham has made it redundant.
“The number of young people in custody has dropped over the past 18 months and the beds at Emu Plains will be replaced by three new accommodation units at Cobham.”
“There are some young offenders who need to come into custody for the safety of the community. When they do, I want to make sure they are in centres that provide a safe environment for staff and detainees.”
“The upgrade of Cobham provides a more secure working environment for staff and better conditions to deliver rehabilitation and education programs, and health services,” Mr Smith said.
Emu Plains Juvenile Justice Centre was opened in 2009 to accommodate the rapidly rising numbers of young people in custody, particularly on remand. The former periodic detention facility was retrofitted to accommodate young offenders, and will be handed back to Corrective Services in early April.
The second stage of the capital works at Cobham will include an expanded and refurbished centre kitchen, new storage areas, a new staff entry with refurbished Admissions area, and further refurbishment of the current school.
Tenders will shortly be issued for the remainder of the works.
Leading barrister to be a Supreme Court Judge [PDF,144kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Francois Kunc SC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.
“For many years, Mr Kunc has been one of the state’s foremost barristers in commercial law and I am sure his intelligence, skill and depth of knowledge will be well utilised on the bench of the Supreme Court,” Mr Smith said.
As a barrister, Mr Kunc maintained a wide-ranging commercial practice which included cases involving contract, equity, trusts, trade practices, insolvency, banking and insurance, government regulation, administrative law and estates.
He has been involved in cases with significant international dimensions, which have required coordinating related litigation or evidence gathering in America, Europe and New Zealand.
His clients have included the Commonwealth Government and several of Australia’s top 50 public companies, including major banks and insurers. He has also represented actor Paul Hogan in his dispute with the Australian Crime Commission.
In addition to regular appearances in the Supreme Court of NSW and Federal Court of Australia, Mr Kunc has appeared in the Supreme Courts of the ACT, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia and the High Court of Australia.
Mr Kunc has been practising law for 27 years, including 21 years as a barrister and six years as a Senior Counsel. He has served as a President of the Law and Literature Association of Australia and as the chairman of the Eleventh Floor of Wentworth Chambers.
Mr Smith said Mr Kunc’s path into the law had been far from easy and was marked by a determination to succeed.
“Raised in a migrant family of modest financial means, Mr Kunc studied hard and was awarded a scholarship to Sydney Grammar School and subsequently graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws,” Mr Smith said.
“In his spare time, he is now involved in helping girls and young women pursue their career ambitions as a Director of Layne Beachley’s Aim for the Stars Foundation.”
Mr Kunc has also had a long involvement in the arts and is currently a director of the Opera Australia Capital Fund.
Mr Kunc will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on 8 April 2013. He will sit in the Equity Division of the court.
Criminal organisations laws pass [PDF, 1116kb]
Issued: Monday, 25 March 2013
Laws to allow organisations, including outlaw motorcycle gangs, to be declared a “criminal organisation” have passed the Parliament, Attorney General Greg Smith SC, said today.
“I am pleased the Parliament passed these tough new laws this afternoon. The laws give police new powers in their fight to crack down on organised crime and bikie gangs,” he said.
“This will enable police to protect the public from criminal gangs whose sole purpose is to commit crimes and terrorise the community.”
The laws retain key elements of the NSW legislation and incorporate elements of the Queensland legislation which recently withstood a High Court challenge.
“This is the latest in a series of measures to support police in the work against organised crime, which include stronger consorting laws, and increased penalties for drive-by shootings,” Mr Smith said.
“While we are waiting for details of the Federal Government’s proposal on national laws to crack down on criminal organisations, NSW has workable legislation in place.”
The legislation requires a three-stage process before the Supreme Court:
- Application by the Police Commissioner regarding criminal intelligence
- Application by the Police Commissioner to declare a group a “criminal organisation”
- Application by the Police Commissioner for control orders against members of the criminal organisation
Inaugural NSW Information Commissioner to step down [PDF, 243kb]
Issued: Monday, 25 March 2013
After three years as the inaugural NSW Information Commissioner, Deirdre O’Donnell has announced she will be leaving her role on Friday 24 May 2013.
“My primary reason for stepping down three years into my five-year term is to fulfil family responsibilities back in Victoria, my home State,” she said.
Ms O’Donnell’s focus during her time as Information Commissioner was on raising awareness of the new right to information regime under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, and on establishing the new Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) from 2011.
“This role has been both challenging and rewarding, and important foundational work has been done,” Ms O’Donnell said.
“However, many exciting opportunities remain for the Commission in building on these foundations. While I will miss the role and my team, I believe that the appointment of a new Commissioner provides the benefit of a fresh approach and new ideas to build on the work I have started.”
She particularly thanked Dr Elizabeth Coombs, Privacy Commissioner, and the staff of the IPC for their dedicated contribution to the work of the office.
“A key focus for the IPC has been the quality and helpfulness of the services we offer, and the clarity and openness of our communications with government agencies and the public,” she said.
“I am proud of what we have achieved, and am confident that this customer focus will continue.”
The Department of Attorney General and Justice has commenced action to recruit a new Commissioner.
For more information on the NSW Information and Privacy Commission, visit: www.ipc.nsw.gov.au or call 1800 472 679.
Evidence of silence laws pass parliament [PDF, 107kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 20 March 2013
A key reform requested by police in the continuing fight against organised crime passed Parliament this evening – no thanks to the Labor Party.
The Leader of the Government in the Upper House and Minister for Police Michael Gallacher said: “This package of reforms passed despite opposition from the alliance of Labor and the Greens.”
“Labor try to talk tough, but fail when it comes to supporting tough legislation. They have turned their back on police by failing to support this legislation which frontline police believe will help them target serious criminals,” Mr Gallacher said.
“Labor should be simply ashamed that they chose to back criminals over NSW police.”
The package of reforms, designed to make trials more efficient and stop criminals from putting forward defences at the last minute, has two parts.
It includes “Evidence of Silence” legislation which allows juries to draw adverse inferences in certain circumstances – including being given a special caution in the presence of their lawyer - if a person accused of a serious indictable crime seeks to raise a fact at trial they did not disclose during a police interview.
The second part of the package makes it mandatory for both sides in criminal trials to follow a timetable setting out requirements for disclosure of material before trial, unless a court specifically waives the requirement.
Both laws were passed by the Legislative Council this evening, after passing the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. They will commence when proclaimed, after appropriate procedures have been put into place for their operation.
Attorney General Greg Smith SC said: “This victory is no thanks to Labor who have been scaremongering about these laws, despite a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, which found similar laws in the UK were consistent with the right to a fair trial.”
“Labor has lost all credibility when it comes to the fight against organised crime because of their failure to support this package of legislation, which should lead to shorter and more efficient trials and stop witnesses being called unnecessarily.”
Magistrate Townsden to be a District Court judge
Issued: Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Magistrate Antony Townsden as a judge of the District Court of NSW.
“Magistrate Townsden has served with distinction on the bench of the Local Court for seven years and his elevation to the ranks of the District Court judiciary is well deserved,” Mr Smith said.
For the past two years, Magistrate Townsden has been responsible for coordinating civil law matters at the busiest Local Court in NSW, the Downing Centre.
Magistrate Townsden has presented papers on criminal law at magistrates’ conferences and is an accredited specialist in criminal law.
Prior to joining the judiciary, Magistrate Townsden was a solicitor for Legal Aid NSW for 16 years, working almost exclusively in the criminal jurisdiction.
“As a solicitor, Magistrate Townsden spent time at the bar tables of most NSW courts, including the District Court where he appeared in sentencing and appeal matters,” Mr Smith said.
“He also appeared regularly as an advocate in the Local Court and in bail applications and appeals before the Supreme Court.”
Magistrate Townsden was the instructing solicitor for the Public Defenders Office in relation to two applications for guideline judgments regarding assaulting police and high range drink driving.
In his final years at Legal Aid, Magistrate Townsden was a senior solicitor responsible for the management and supervision of an inner city team of approximately 25 solicitors and support staff.
Magistrate Townsden will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 6 May 2013.
Making trials more efficient [PDF, 108kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 13 March 2013
The government is introducing a package of reforms designed to speed up the efficiency of serious criminal trials and stop offenders frustrating the system, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“Under our reforms, juries may be allowed to draw an unfavourable inference against an accused who raises a defence at trial which they have never before disclosed,” Mr Smith said.
“The accused is entitled to a fair trial, but these changes should stop them from putting forward defences at the last minute and ensure that trials are run on the real issue in dispute.”
“The first part of the reform will make it mandatory for both sides of a criminal trial to outline the key aspects of their case before the trial.”
“It will narrow the points in dispute early and might lead people to plead guilty sooner, rather than waiting until the first day of the trial when witnesses, lawyers and jurors are ready to go.”
“This will lead to shorter and more efficient trials, save court time, and stop witnesses being called unnecessarily,” he said.
The proposal will increase the disclosure requirements of both parties before a criminal trial and require that it takes place in all cases in a timely way.
The prosecution must give the accused a notice setting out their case no later than six weeks before the start of a Supreme Court trial and no later than four weeks before a trial in the District Court.
The accused has until four weeks before a Supreme Court trial and two weeks before a District Court trial to set out its response, outlining key legal points and defences to be relied on, and stating which parts of the prosecution case it seeks to challenge. In some cases the court may also order additional disclosure.
The prosecution and defence notices will formally address those issues that the parties already turn their mind to when preparing a criminal case for trial.
“If the accused later raises an issue that they did not raise as required in their notice before trial, then the judge may tell the jury it can draw an unfavourable inference,” Mr Smith said.
“However, an accused cannot be convicted solely on the basis of an unfavourable inference.”
The court can waive the disclosure requirement, providing it gives reasons why doing so is in the interests of the administration of justice.
“This will ensure fairness to both sides in criminal trials and increase the efficiency of trial preparation,” Mr Smith said.
“As the second part of our reforms we will introduce a special police caution for suspects being investigated for serious indictable crimes.”
“This will allow juries to draw an unfavourable inference against an accused who refuses or fails to speak to police but later seeks to rely on a fact at trial which they could have reasonably mentioned at the time of police questioning.”
This “Evidence of Silence” legislation will only apply to those given the special caution in the presence of a lawyer, and who have had reasonable opportunity to get legal advice on the meaning of the caution.
It will only apply to defendants aged 18 or above and capable of understanding the special caution.
This bill takes into account submissions received on a draft exposure bill released for consultation late last year.
“Together, these two measures will stop criminals from using silence or surprise as a weapon against a fair conviction.”
“Yet, both contain a range of safeguards to make sure that innocent people are not disadvantaged by the reforms and that courts retain autonomy to take into account what is in the interests of the administration of justice.”
New Law Reform Commission references [PDF, 119kb] LRC terms of reference [PDF, 13kb]
Issued: Friday, 8 March 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today he has asked the NSW Law Reform Commission to undertake four new investigations over the coming 12 to 18 months.
Mr Smith asked the Commission to conduct reviews and develop proposals for law reform in the following areas:
- Statutory provisions for alternative dispute resolution
- Encouraging appropriate early pleas of guilty in indictable criminal proceedings
- Processes for determining parole
- Streamlining criminal appeal processes
“I value the work of the Law Reform Commission and its chairman James Wood AO QC, and believe their views will be valuable in informing Government and shaping policy in these four important areas of law reform,” Mr Smith said.
“Alternative Dispute Resolution is an important and growing area of the law which affects many individuals and helps make the settlement of disputes easier, faster and cheaper. The Commission will also focus on developing a consistent model or models for dispute resolution including court ordered mediation or other dispute resolution processes, under various statutory provisions.”
The Commission will also be examining ways to encourage early guilty pleas, building on other government initiatives in the area of improving trial efficiency.
“Early guilty pleas do not just improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system, they also save victims and witnesses the trauma of preparing for court, only to be excused at the last minute.”
“We don’t deny an accused the right to have their day in court, but we want to encourage those who will ultimately plead guilty to do so early, reducing the emotional impact on participants, and reducing the waste of time and resources in preparing for a trial which will not take place.”
“The review of the parole system will look at ways to ensure it works effectively to protect community safety and reintegrate offenders into society towards the end of their sentence to reduce their chance of reoffending.”
The Commission will soon be calling for preliminary submissions on these references, and more information can be found on its website www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc
$50,000 to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in Nowra [PDF, 29kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 6 March 2013
The NSW Government has awarded Shoalhaven Council $50,000 for a multi-pronged campaign to reduce alcohol-related assaults in Nowra’s CBD, Attorney General Greg Smith SC and the Member for South Coast Shelley Hancock announced today.
“The campaign will promote responsible consumption of alcohol and make staff and security operators at licensed venues more aware of their duty to protect patrons from violence on the premises,” said Mr Smith.
“Council will also conduct a safety audit of the Nowra entertainment precinct and improve the design of the area to reduce the risk of alcohol-fuelled violence,” he said.
Council’s responsible consumption of alcohol campaign will include advertisements in the media and posters in licensed venues.
The advertisements will:
- warn of the penalties for alcohol-related offences, including assault;
- remind patrons that they will be refused entry to pubs and clubs if they appear to be under the influence of alcohol; and
- provide revellers with advice on finding transport to get home safely.
Staff and security from licensed venues will attend seminars that examine their legal requirements and potential liability; what the public expects of them; and the negative impact anti-social behaviour has on their business and the community.
Council has developed the education campaign in consultation with police, security professionals and the Shoalhaven Liquor Accord.
Non-domestic violence related assault has fallen by almost 16 per cent in the Shoalhaven in the 12 months to September 2012. However, police are concerned that a significant proportion of the offences occurred in Nowra, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
Mrs Hancock said: “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink with friends, but it’s important to know your limits - for your own safety and the safety of others.
“Council’s campaign will promote greater vigilance at licensed venues so that intoxicated trouble makers are not allowed to ruin anyone else’s night out,” she said.
Young people missing a loved one to meet in Parramatta [PDF, 230kb]
Issued: Thursday, 28 February 2013
Young people who have had a family member or a friend go missing will meet in Parramatta on Saturday to share their experiences.
The meeting, organised by the Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit (FFMPU), will be an opportunity for people aged 10 to 18 to meet others who feel a similar sense of loss.
The coordinator of the FFMPU, Liz Davies said the meeting would be empowering for young people, who often feel they are kept ‘out of the loop’ when a family member disappears.
“Adults in the family typically want to protect young people and don’t know what to say to them when a loved one goes missing,” said Ms Davies.
“This can leave young people feeling confused and alone but we hope that by meeting others in similar situations, they will feel less isolated.”
The FFMPU began hosting the “In the Loop” meetings for young people last year, but this will be the first meeting held in Sydney.
“The young people will be encouraged to share their stories and memories through talking and drawing,” Ms Davies said.
“The focus will be on building their individual strengths and enabling them to make connections with others who understand their situation.
“While the young people have experienced great sadness, the group will be encouraged to have fun on Saturday.”
The FFMPU began conducting the “In the Loop” sessions after discovering there were few services for young people who had had a friend or family member go missing.
The session on Saturday will be open to young people from all over NSW. Those who are unable to physically attend will be able to join the conversation via Skype.
In the Loop session details:
When: 10.30am - 2.00pm, Saturday 2 March 2013
Where: Parramatta Justice Precinct, 160 Marsden Street Parramatta
Young people wishing to attend can contact Liz or Manny on 1800 227 772.
EDITORS NOTE: To protect the privacy of the young people, the event will not be open to the media. However Liz Davies from the Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit will be available for interview prior to the event.
The Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit is part of the Department of Attorney General and Justice. It is the only agency in Australia providing free specialised counselling and information for those left behind when someone is missing. For more information about the FFMPU, visit: www.missingpersons.lawlink.nsw.gov.au
Faster ADVOs to ensure safety of victims [PDF, 103kb]
Issued: Thursday, 28 February 2013
Police will soon be able to issue provisional apprehended domestic violence orders (ADVOs) to protect victims of domestic violence, Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Police Minister Michael Gallacher announced today.
Under the proposal, provisional ADVOs can be issued by senior police officers of the rank of sergeant or above. Currently only court registrars or other authorised officers can issue ADVOs.
Provisional ADVOs are available in emergency situations, and can only be issued where there is a good reason to believe that an immediate order is needed to ensure the safety of the protected person or prevent substantial property damage.
“Four out of every five ADVO applications are made outside of court hours, causing potential delays in getting an order to protect the victim from the alleged perpetrator,” Mr Smith said.
“After a provisional ADVO is issued by authorised police, the case will be listed before a court within 28 days – much quicker in most metropolitan courts. Interim and final ADVOs will still only be issued by a court,” he said.
“In an additional safeguard, the defendant can apply to the court to challenge the police- issued ADVO before the first listing date.”
This proposal to amend existing domestic violence legislation acts on a recommendation of the Upper House inquiry into Domestic Violence Trends and Issues, and follows inquiries by the NSW and Australian law reform commissions.
Police Minister Michael Gallacher said this proposal would save police time to travel between the location where incident occurred and the police station to seek the order – while the victim and defendant had to remain in their home.
“The legislation empowers police to order the defendant of the ADVO to accompany them to the station or another designated place to keep the victim safe in their home. Police will also have powers to detain any defendant who refuses reasonable directions for up to two hours.”
“This will reduce the risk of the defendant disappearing before the order is served.”
The Minister for Women, Pru Goward said: “Faster ADVOs will mean that police are able to respond more efficiently to keep victims of domestic violence safe.”
“Enabling police to direct the defendant to accompany them to a police station means that victims and their children will be able to stay in their homes while the order is made.”
“This is a common sense approach to help protect victims of domestic violence,” she said.
“This legislation will include significant safeguards, and will be reviewed after the first 12 months of operation,” said Mr Smith.
This announcement follows the launch late last year of the government’s new Domestic Violence Justice Strategy, which provides a more coordinated and consistent multi-agency approach to domestic violence in the justice system.
Last year nearly 30,000 provisional domestic and personal AVOs were granted by authorised officers.
Making criminal pay for court [PDF, 108kb]
Issued: Thursday, 28 February 2013
People found guilty of a summary offence in the NSW Local Court will be charged a levy to help pay for the cost of their court case, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“The court costs levy will be made mandatory for most convictions before the Local Court,” Mr Smith said.
“At the moment, magistrates have a discretion to order a convicted offender to pay court costs, but currently court costs are applied inconsistently. Imposing a mandatory levy will lead to greater consistency.”
“I believe people convicted of criminal offences should make a contribution towards the cost of bringing them to justice.”
The government will today bring in legislation to make the levy mandatory, requiring offenders to pay $83 per conviction. This cost covers a proportion of the total cost of running courts and the justice system.
It will apply to most people convicted of a criminal offence in the Local Court, but exempts those convicted in the Drug Court and Children’s Court, and offenders sentenced to prison, as prisoners have little opportunity to pay off such debts.
It will also apply to some people given a section 10 order, who are found guilty, but not convicted. It will not apply to section 10 orders where the court dismisses the charge, except where the offence is punishable by imprisonment.
“Any offender who says they can’t afford this levy, can apply to pay by instalments. Some may also apply to work off their debt through a Work and Development Order,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s a sound idea for offenders to be asked to contribute towards the cost of justice, but safeguards will protect vulnerable individuals.”
The levy will be reviewed after 12 months of operation.
Early intervention to keep Youth on Track [PDF, 224kb]
The NSW government has announced a new early intervention scheme for juveniles as young as 10, designed to prevent them becoming entrenched in criminal behaviour.
Under the model, called Youth on Track, police and schools will refer young people considered to be at risk of committing crimes, to be assessed and provided with services which address their needs.
“Police and teachers who have regular contact with a young person are often best placed to identify those at risk of becoming involved in crime. This scheme will use their expertise to identify youth at risk before it is too late,” said Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC.
“Targeted services will respond to the underlying causes of crime which can be changed, and help these young people deal with issues like substance abuse, educational problems, anger issues, mental illness, and family dysfunction,” he said.
“This is not about diverting young people from the legal process – it is about improving community safety by breaking the cycle of reoffending. It is about turning them away from crime and getting them back on track,” he said.
Youth on Track provides a holistic approach and was developed by the Department of Attorney General and Justice, in consultation with NSW Police Force and the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services, the departments of Education and Communities, Family and Community Services, and Health, and with non-government agencies.
“Under the scheme, young people - aged from 10 to 14, but possibly as old as 17- can be referred to Youth on Track after three police contacts,” Police Minister Michael Gallacher said.
“Police are often frustrated because they can predict which young kids fall through the gaps and turn into criminals. Youth on Track now gives police a way of helping to prevent this and thereby preventing future crime,” he said.
After the first six months Youth on Track will take referrals from schools.
“This new program complements the work that Community Services is doing to improve outcomes for at-risk teens and keep them out of the out-of-home care system – including through our significant investment in the non-government sector ($10 million annually over four years) to provide innovative services for this group,” said Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward.
“I support this latest initiative and look forward to working closely with the Department of Attorney General and Justice into the future to help steer the state’s most vulnerable young people in the right direction.”
Youth on Track will first be implemented in three regions in the state, which have the largest number of young people who meet the criteria for participating in the scheme: the Mid North Coast Local Area Command, the Hunter (Newcastle LAC) and Western Sydney (Blacktown LAC).
It is estimated about 300 cases will be referred to Youth on Track in the first 12 months.
Youth on Track participants are likely to have had their first contact with police before the age of 14, and they are more likely to be male and of Aboriginal descent. They are likely to have anger, violence and mental health issues, problems with substance or alcohol use, and poor literacy and numeracy levels – issues which will be addressed by Youth on Track services.
“Given that poor school attendance is one of the key triggers for young Aboriginal people becoming involved in crime, Youth on Track is a critical step in supporting young people to stay on track by staying at school,” said Victor Dominello, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research will evaluate the program before a decision is made about extending the program to other parts of the state.
Currently, services to reduce offending behaviour are often only available after a young person has been convicted of a criminal offence or come into detention.
This new approach, which is based on evidence of successful programs overseas, is designed to cut the offending rate of young people considered at risk of criminal behaviour.
However, young people identified by Youth on Track who are subsequently charged with criminal behaviour will still face court and be dealt with for their crimes.
Non-government organisations will be invited to tender to provide Youth on Track services in March, and the young people will be referred to them from June.
For more information: www.youthontrack.lawlink.nsw.gov.au.
Laws to improve sentencing of young killers [PDF, 161kb]
Issued: Friday, 22 February 2013
A proposed new law will enable judges to provisionally sentence young murderers and review their jail terms once their prospects can be better assessed, Attorney General Greg Smith SC has said.
The provisional sentencing scheme, soon to be introduced into parliament, is to apply to young people convicted of a murder committed while they were aged between 10 and 16.
“This will allow judges to set a provisional sentence, which is effectively a jail term that can be adjusted when more is known about the offender's development,” Mr Smith said.
“This will enable judges to make more informed decisions about the detention of young killers, which will help ensure the protection of the community and uphold the integrity of the justice system.”
“Judges have spoken about the difficulty of sentencing young killers when no definite diagnosis or prognosis is available.”
“This way they won’t need a crystal ball, but they can make sure they get it right.”
The proposal follows a report by the Sentencing Council which endorsed the introduction of provisional sentences after extensive consultation.
Justice James Wood QC, chair of the Sentencing Council, had initiated the report after a Supreme Court case in which he described the sentencing of a murderer who was aged 13 years at the time of his offence as a “formidable challenge” because of the lack of a clear prognosis and diagnosis.
The Sentencing Council recommends a provisional sentencing scheme for cases “where the information available at the time of sentencing, does not permit a proper assessment to be made in relation to the presence or likely development in the offender of a serious personality and psychiatric disorder, and as a consequence an assessment as to their potential for future dangerousness or rehabilitation.”
“Experts often say they cannot assess a young person’s future prospects because their brains are still developing,” Mr Smith said.
During Provisional Sentencing, the judge will be able to seek enforceable undertakings that the child will receive treatment and be properly monitored in jail.
Juvenile Justice will report to the court on the offender's progress, and the judge has to set a final sentence:
- within five years of the provisional sentencing; and
- at least one year before the provisional non-parole
When making a final determination, the judge will be able to reduce but not increase the sentence.
Attorney announces Supreme Court appointments [PDF, 107kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Two Supreme Court judges have been appointed to new roles and a Federal Court judge will join the bench of the Supreme Court, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
The Chief Judge at Common Law, Justice Peter McClellan QC, AM has been appointed a Judge of Appeal, Justice Clifton Hoeben AM RFD will be the new Chief Judge at Common Law, while Federal Court Justice Arthur Emmett will become a Supreme Court judge and a Judge of Appeal.
Mr Smith said it had been an eventful start to the year for Justice McClellan, who was last month appointed as Chair of the Commonwealth Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
“In practical terms, Justice McClellan will not sit as a Judge of Appeal until he has completed his duties at the Royal Commission,” Mr Smith said.
Justice McClellan has more than a decade of experience on the bench of the Supreme Court and has been Chief Judge at Common Law since 2005.
He has also served as Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court, an Assistant Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and Chairman of the Inquiry into Sydney Water.
Justice Hoeben has been a Supreme Court judge since 2004 and became a Judge of Appeal last year. Prior to joining the judiciary, Justice Hoeben spent around 30 years working as a barrister. He has also served in the Australian Army Reserve, where he attained the position of Major General.
Justice Hoeben’s appointment as Chief Judge at Common Law will begin on 22 February 2013.
Justice Emmett has served as a judge of the Federal Court since 1997 and has been the President of the Copyright Tribunal of Australia since 2007. In a legal career spanning more than 45 years, Justice Emmett has also worked as a barrister, attaining silk in 1985, and as a partner at the law firm Dawson Waldron (now known as Ashurst Australia).
Justice Emmett will begin serving on the bench of the Supreme Court as a Judge of Appeal on 7 March 2013.
NSW to simplify disputes over Company Title units [PDF, 119kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Disputes relating to home units on Company Title will be heard in the Local Court of NSW to enable faster, simpler and more cost effective resolutions, the Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, announced today.
“Until now, Company Title disputes have been typically heard in the Supreme Court with the cost of the proceedings preventing some residents from resolving conflict over issues such as noise, the use of common property and the raising of financial levies,” Mr Smith said.
“The NSW Government will enable the Small Claims Division of the Local Court to deal with Company Title disputes so that the issues can be resolved quickly and with as little formality as possible.”
“The Local Court will also be able to refer matters to mediation, which could further reduce costs for residents of Company Title units.”
Company title is a system of communal land ownership where a person earns the right to live in a unit in a residential building by acquiring shares in a company that owns the building.
Before the introduction of Strata Title legislation in NSW in 1961, most unit blocks were held in Company Title.
“Company Title is now relatively uncommon in NSW, existing in only approximately 820 blocks of units in NSW,” Mr Smith said.
Strata Title differs from Company Title by allowing people to own a unit in a building. There are more than 71,000 strata schemes in NSW.
Disputes involving Strata Title units can be resolved in the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal. However, a tribunal, such as the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, may not be able to be given the power to resolve Company Title disputes that arise under the Corporations Act 2001, which is a Commonwealth Act.
Staus quo for technology in court [PDF, 181kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Journalists and lawyers will be able to continue to use mobile technology in courts to do their jobs, Attorney General Greg Smith SC has said.
The government has introduced legislation to ban the transmitting of information from court rooms after an incident which endangered the integrity of the court process.
Peak bodies are being consulted on the proposed regulation which will exempt lawyers, and journalists for the purposes of media reports on court proceedings from the restrictions in the legislation.
The legislation will not be enacted until after consultation on the regulation is complete, however the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has already indicated it is comfortable with the proposed exemptions.
“This proposed regulation effectively maintains the status quo,” Mr Smith said.
"Recognised journalists will continue to be able to use their mobile phone or tablet computer to transmit information unless otherwise ordered by a judge or magistrate, as is the case currently. The transmission of sound of images remains banned, unless specifically approved.”
The government is also consulting with the Law Society and Bar Association.
"The intention is not to disadvantage journalists or lawyers who are just doing their jobs. The prohibition is aimed at stopping people with malicious intentions from disrupting the work of our courts and prejudicing the orderly administration of justice."
The recording of court proceedings is already an offence and the amendment aims to cover new technology which can “transmit” proceedings without recording them.
"We are leading the way on this issue and other jurisdictions are also beginning to grapple with this issue."
Third Drug Court for NSW opens In Sydney [PDF, 117kb]
Issued: Thursday, 14 February 2013
The highly successful Drug Court will begin operating at the Downing Centre today, helping drug dependent offenders in Sydney’s CBD, inner west and eastern suburbs to overcome their addiction and stop committing crime.
Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Health Minister Jillian Skinner will today join Senior Drug Court Judge Roger Dive in opening the state’s third Drug Court, which will be known as the Sydney Drug Court.
“The NSW Government is committed to supporting diversionary programs that deliver results and the Drug Court has proven its effectiveness time and time again,” Mr Smith said.
“The Drug Court recognises the abuse of illicit substances is not just a criminal issue, it is a health issue and with intensive treatment offenders can break the vicious cycle of committing crime to feed their habit,” Mrs Skinner said.
“This is about ensuring members of the community are given the best chance to not only turn their lives around but their health and mental health too,” Mrs Skinner said.
The Sydney Drug Court will accommodate up to 40 participants at a time, receiving referrals from Newtown, Waverley, Central and Downing Centre Local Courts and the Sydney District Court.
To be eligible for the Drug Court, an offender must be drug dependent, at least 18 years old, intending to plead guilty to an offence, willing to participate in the program and likely to be sentenced to jail if convicted. People charged with violent, sexual or drug trafficking offences are excluded from the program.
“Completing the program is not easy – it takes a minimum of 12 months and requires participants to make profound changes to the way they are living their lives,” Mr Smith said.
After undergoing detoxification in custody, Drug Court participants are transferred to a rehabilitation centre or court-approved program. Participants are drug tested (initially three times a week), attend counselling sessions and develop job and life skills.
The Drug Court has been operating at Parramatta in Sydney’s west since 1999 and at Toronto in the Hunter region since 2011. Judge Dive said over 50 per cent of participants complete the program to graduation standard or achieve a sufficient level of success to render any further time in jail unnecessary.
“Graduation is not the only measure of success – for example, some participants cannot complete the demanding graduation requirements because they have found a full-time job,” Judge Dive said.
Judge Dive said participants aren’t the only ones to benefit from the Drug Court program.
“The Drug Court program has led to participants rebuilding relationships with estranged parents, children and other family members. The ripple effect of recovery is extraordinary,” Judge Dive said.
“There are also enormous benefits for the community each time a participant stops committing crime and starts living a normal and honest life.”
A study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) showed the Drug Court is more cost-effective than prison in reducing re-offending rates among people who have committed drug-related crime. Offenders who complete the Drug Court program are 37 per cent less likely to be convicted of any further offence and 58 per cent less likely to be convicted of another drug offence.
The Director of BOCSAR Dr Don Weatherburn said the Drug Court was “the benchmark against which all other offender rehabilitation programs in NSW should be assessed”.
New Cessnock maximum security prison officially opened [PDF, 280kb]
Issued: Tuesday, 12 February 2013
Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC today officially opened the new $97 million maximum security section at Cessnock with a ceremonial handing over of keys.
Mr Smith said the major new state-of-the-art section would make Cessnock Correctional Complex the largest prison facility in NSW outside of Sydney, capable of housing around 800 inmates.
“With the new 250-bed section Cessnock will have nine wings housing remand and sentenced inmates in classifications from maximum through to medium and pre-release minimum security inmates,” Mr Smith said.
“The new section, which took two years to build, is already home to about 100 inmates and a structured intake will continue for the next fortnight until the centre is at capacity.”
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the new section is a modern, secure and humane addition to the State’s correctional facilities.
“There has been a great deal of careful planning including a highly detailed testing and shake-down process for this section,” Mr Severin said.
“In addition, falling inmate numbers gave us the opportunity to conduct a state-wide operational analysis resulting in the retirement of an ageing prison section at Long Bay and re-opening of a minimum security area at Silverwater.
“Now, with the addition of Cessnock’s new section, we are extremely well positioned in terms of our operations and delivery of inmate programs to reduce re-offending.”
Mr Smith said more than 1,500 people injected 500,000 hours into its construction and a total 16 per cent of the workforce was indigenous.
“The construction phase saw real employment opportunities in the local community for indigenous and non-indigenous people including 15 new youth apprenticeships in various building and construction trades,” Mr Smith said.
The project has used:
- Construction of the original Cessnock Correctional Centre began during the late 1960s and was officially opened in 1974 by the then Chief Justice of NSW Sir John Kerr and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, John Maddison.
- The opening of the new section will provide accommodation for an additional 250 inmates. This will make Cessnock the second largest facility in NSW after the Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre at Silverwater. It will also be the State’s largest and most diverse regional correctional centre.
- With the opening of the new wing, Cessnock will have a total of nine wings and will house almost 800 remand and sentenced inmates.
- John Holland Pty Ltd began construction work in April 2010. The two year construction was completed in May 2012.
- The facility was built over the former sports oval in the existing minimum security area. It was completed within the $97 million budget allocated for its design, construction and fit-out.
- More than 10,000 cubic metres of concrete, enough to fill four Olympic-sized pools
- 6,000 square metres of asphalt and more than 1,500 fence panels
- The electrical cabling could stretch from Sydney to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast
- Enough turf to cover the equivalent of five football fields
- More than 37,000 native plants will provide some greenery to the new space
- A Health Centre with two observation cells for inmates with medical conditions
- Electronic security systems including cameras with infrared and video motion detection capacity;
- Motion detectors throughout and ability to control all areas from a central point
- Ability to manage movements by isolating different areas
- First facility to have in entirety a Positive Air Flow system, allowing for buildings to cool without the aid of air conditioning
Decision on Bowraville application [PDF, 35kb]
Issued: Saturday, 9 February 2013
The Attorney General Greg Smith SC has written to the lawyers who act for the families and supporters of three children who were murdered in Bowraville more than 20 years ago. He has informed them he cannot grant their request to refer the cases to the Court of Criminal Appeal for consideration of a retrial.
“Unfortunately, after careful analysis of this complex case and extensive consultation with police, the families and their lawyers, I am convinced that the application has no reasonable prospect of success.”
“I feel terrible for the families, and understand the impact the long and tragic cases have had on them. This has been a very difficult decision.”
Colleen Walker, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy- Duroux were killed in Bowraville in 1990 and 1991. A man has been tried and acquitted of the murders Clinton Speedy-Duroux in 1994 and of the murder of Evelyn Grenup in 2006.
Despite the introduction of double jeopardy laws in 2006, earlier applications for a retrial were declined by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the former Attorney General John Hatzistergos.
“When coming into office I undertook to review this case. I have since received legal advice from three very senior and experienced criminal lawyers, and had the case reviewed by a team of senior legal professionals. After weighing up all the issues, I believe it would be inappropriate to refer this case to the CCA or to indict the man for the murders. This has been a complex and lengthy process, but we wanted to be sure all arguments were thoroughly tested.”
Under the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act an application for a retrial of an acquitted person can be referred to the Court of Criminal Appeal in certain circumstances, if there is “fresh and compelling” new evidence.
Only one such application can be brought, and should more evidence come to light later, no further application can be made.
The body of Colleen Walker has not been found. The government has offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of a person or persons for the three deaths.
South Coast solicitor appointed as a magistrate [PDF 105kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of South Coast solicitor Mark Douglass as a magistrate of the Local Court of NSW.
Mr Douglass has been a solicitor for almost 15 years, working primarily in Nowra. He was the principal solicitor at Douglass and Ford Criminal Law and the President of the Shoalhaven Regional Law Society prior to his appointment as a magistrate.
“As is often the case with solicitors in regional areas, Mr Douglass has wide ranging legal experience, representing parties in a large number of matters involving criminal, civil, family and care law,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Douglass has frequently appeared in the Local, Children’s and District Courts and instructed counsel in matters before the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeal. He has conducted prosecutions for government bodies in matters relating to education, fisheries and human resources. He has also lectured in law at Wollongong University.
Prior to establishing his own practice in 2003, Mr Douglass worked as a criminal lawyer at the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS). While at the ALS, he established a legal component for the Serious Traffic Offender’s Program in Nowra.
Mr Douglass has performed extensive community work in the Shoalhaven area. As a coach of rugby league and rugby union teams, he has worked with disadvantaged Aboriginal young people and encouraged them to participate in sport and gain an education.
Mr Douglass has assisted the Schizophrenia Fellowship with fundraising and has appeared as a guest speaker at a number of its events.
Mr Douglass will be sworn in as a magistrate on 25 February 2013.
Dubbo barrister appointed as a magistrate [PDF, 118kb]
Issued: Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Dubbo barrister Karen Robinson as a magistrate of the Local Court of NSW.
“Ms Robinson has more than 20 years of experience in the law and is among the most highly regarded legal practitioners in western NSW,” Mr Smith said.
After growing up in Sydney and studying law at the University of Sydney, Ms Robinson moved to Dubbo in 1992, where she has been practising law ever since.
Ms Robinson was admitted to the Bar in 2008 and is one of a small number of barristers in Dubbo. Practising primarily in criminal law, Ms Robinson has appeared in a range of Local and District Court matters, including trials, sentences and appeals.
Prior to joining the Bar, Ms Robinson served as a Senior Solicitor in Crime at Legal Aid in Dubbo for five years. She also spent more than 11 years in a private general litigation practice where she was involved in criminal, civil and family law. During that time, she became a Law Society accredited specialist in advocacy. Ms Robinson was also Secretary of the Orana Law Society from 1995 to 2005.
In addition to her work in court, Ms Robinson has:
Ms Robinson will be sworn in as a magistrate on 25 February 2013.
- lectured for a driver education program;
- been involved in the education of local solicitors, including delivering conference papers;
- been a member of a community justice panel; and
- been a Young Lawyers representative for the Orana region.
Flooding impact - north region UPDATE Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Issued: Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Maclean Local Court has been isolated by floodwaters and is not expected to re-open before Monday, 4 February, 2013.
For enquiries regarding this registry please call 1300 679 272.
Flooding impact - north region
Issued: Tuesday, 29 January 2013
The following court registries have been closed by the flooding today:
Persons in custody due to appear at Tweed Heads on 29 January 2013 will instead appear at Lismore Court.
- Byron Bay
- Grafton - Local Court sittings have been cancelled for the 29 January 2013 and all cases will be adjourned to 11 February 2013.
For enquiries regarding these registries please call 1300 679 272.
Attorney welcomes appointment of Royal Commissioner [PDF, 106kb]
Issued: Friday, 11 January 2013
Attorney General Greg Smith SC, today welcomed the appointment of Justice Peter McClellan,QC, AM as the Chief Commissioner for the Commonwealth Royal Commission into institutional child abuse.
The Commonwealth Attorney General Nicola Roxon, announced his appointment as the Chair Commissioner this morning.
Mr Smith said: “Justice McClellan is an excellent choice for the role. His extensive experience appearing in and running complex inquiries, his ability for hard work and his compassion make him an ideal candidate.”
Justice McClellan is perhaps best known to people in NSW for his work on the inquiries into Sydney Water and the casino.
However, his experience with Royal Commissions started as counsel assisting to the Maralinga Royal Commission into nuclear testing. He has also been an Assistant Commissioner at the Independent Commission Against Corruption and has advised and represented a range of government agencies.
A former Chief Judge of the Land and Environment court, Justice McClellan was appointed to the NSW Supreme Court in 2001 and has been Chief Judge at Common Law at the NSW Supreme Court since 2005. He regularly sits on the Court of Appeal and Court of Criminal Appeal.
He will be on leave from his position for the duration of the Royal Commission.
“He is one of Australia’s top lawyers, known for his principled approach and commitment to fairness and justice. I am confident he will give all parties a full and fair hearing and guide the Commission well,” Mr Smith said.
“We will miss his talents in NSW, but I wish him well in this important task chairing the Royal Commission and leading a group of other senior lawyers.”