In Brief Issue #1024

Christopher Blanden QC

Yesterday saw the commencement of the September 2021 Readers’ Course. Our congratulations to all the new Readers for having the foresight to want to become barristers! Our commiserations go to them for having to start the course online, but as I indicated in my welcome to them, the Bar’s staff has become adept at dealing with the vagaries of lockdowns – the intention is for the course to revert to a face-to-face format as soon as possible.

This Readers’ Course is notable for another reason: it marks the first occasion for many years where the course has proceeded without the guiding hand of Dr Sue McNicol AM QC, who has relinquished the role of Chair of the Readers’ Course Committee. As members will be only too well aware, as well as dealing with the course itself, Sue had to contend with threats of a more existential nature. Notwithstanding those challenges, under Sue’s stewardship the course has emerged bigger and better than ever. I wish to thank Sue on behalf of the Bar for her exceptional efforts in this regard.

The Bar is particularly fortunate to have Justin Graham QC step into the role of chairing the Readers’ Course. I also thank Justin and wish him well in this demanding role.

I am delighted to announce that at last night’s Bar Council meeting Darryl Burnett was elected to the role of Junior Vice President. I congratulate Darryl and welcome him to his new role.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Wear It Purple Day – Friday 27 August

The LGBTIQ Working Group of the Equality & Diversity Committee is celebrating Wear It Purple Day at 5:30pm on Friday, 27 August 2021.

We are hosting an event and a CLE Seminar.

Wear It Purple Day is a much-loved annual event celebrated across Australia in workplaces large and small (including many law firms, government departments, and NGOs) to show rainbow young people and kids that we love and support them.

To celebrate, the LGBTIQ Working Group is proud to present a CLE seminar Legal challenges faced by the trans and gender diverse communities, which will give an insight into the key legal issues commonly facing the Trans and Gender Diverse communities and why it is important lawyers have a practical understanding of these unique issues.

Everyone is welcome!


Register now for the Bar’s online event and wear a touch of purple (or a lot, hey, it’s your party), get some purple cupcakes delivered/fix a purple-tini and/or update your zoom video border to get in on the celebrations here.

We will attempt to take a screenshot of everyone’s fab purpleness on the night (tech permitting). Please feel free to opt out and leave your camera off if you prefer.

Register here.

We are also very excited to have our own Liz Bennett and Gemma Cafarella on the panel – this is not to be missed!

2021 Re-engagement Lunch

The Victorian Bar wishes to invite you to attend the 2021 Re-engagement Lunch from 1-3:00pm on Friday, 27 August 2021.

The session will bring together members of the Bar currently on, recently returned from, or planning to take, parental leave for an informal discussion on issues such as returning to practice after an extended leave and maintaining connection while away. The discussion will be guided by insights from a barrister who has recently become a parent, with her experience acting as a springboard for discussing your own particular challenges and successes.

This event is now online only.

RSVP here by Friday, 20 August 2021.

BCL update – staying COVIDSafe

Please refer to Staying COVIDSafe at BCL for all information, communications, helpful links to COVID safe plans and restrictions as they happen and what we all need to do.

Subscriptions for the 2021-2022 Financial Year are now overdue

Thank you to those members who have already paid their subscriptions. Subscriptions for the 2021-2022 Financial Year are due for members, and to make payment of your subscription, please click here. If you have any questions about your subscription or are experiencing financial hardship, please contact membership or call 03 9225 8326.

Victorian Bar member CPD and events

The following is a highlight of upcoming CPD and events for Victorian Bar members. You must be a member of the Victorian Bar and logged into the VicBar website to view these events.

  • Section 501 Migration Act 1958 (Vic) – An overview of the law and current issues is on Thursday, 26 August, 5:30-7:00pm. This is the first of the three training sessions under the AAT Limited Assistance Scheme established by the Visa Cancellations Working Group and will be presented by leading migration law practitioners with expertise in AAT visa cancellation matters. This is an online-only event. Click here to register.

For more details about these events and other upcoming CPD and events, please visit our listings here.

Vicbar Life
Member Benefits portal for Bar members

The Victorian Bar is delighted to announce the refreshed Member Benefits online portal, where you can access a wide variety of discounts, special offers, and member-only deals as part of your Bar membership.

The exclusive benefits are available Australia-wide and are not generally open to the public.

To activate your account and access the benefits, please click here. You must log in using your login details.

The Essoign Club

Dear Essoign Members,

The Essoign Club will remain open from 7:00am and operate as a takeaway and delivery as per the current restrictions.

We will have coffee, juices, soft drinks, salads and sandwiches on offer, along with daily specials and take away beer or wine.

A daily menu will continue to be sent to our members.

As always, we would like to thank you for your support.

See you soon!

Practice & Profession News
Commonwealth and Victorian Courts' COVID updates

The Victorian Government has announced an extension plus additional restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne until 11:59pm, Thursday 2 September 2021. 

The Supreme Court of Victoria has published a cross-jurisdictional message from the Chief Justice in response to COVID-19 restrictions being strengthened and extended in metropolitan Melbourne, which outlines the arrangements and contains a message for the profession. Read the statement here.

For up-to-date information about the Courts’ responses, please visit their websites:

  • Federal Court of Australia – see here.
  • Family Court of Australia – see here.
  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia – see here.
  • Supreme Court of Victoria – see here.
  • County Court of Victoria – see here.
  • Magistrates’ Court of Victoria – see here.

County Court of Victoria

The following will apply from Wednesday, 18 August 2021, until further notice:

Melbourne - criminal jury trials

While the latest Health Directions no longer provide the Court with an exemption from density quotients for courtrooms and areas of the court building used for jury trials in Melbourne, all of the criminal trials currently running in Melbourne are in paired courtroom arrangements and comply with density quotients.

As such, those criminal jury trials underway may continue at Melbourne, subject to the views of the judge and parties. Self-evidently, there is a strong public interest in those trials proceeding to verdict, where possible. 

At this stage, criminal jury trials, which were due to be empanelled between Thursday, 19 August and Thursday, 2 September 2021 inclusive, will not proceed. Every effort will be made to relist these trials over the coming weeks. The Court will be in contact with the parties soon in relation to these re-listings. 

We will aim to resume new jury trials in Melbourne from Friday, 3 September 2021.

Melbourne - criminal judge alone trials

One trial by judge alone, which is midstream, will continue. Given its equivalence with jury trials, the interests of justice demand that it proceeds to a conclusion as efficiently as possible. By their nature, the Court considers the completion of such trials essential to the administration of justice.  Where onsite attendance is needed to complete a trial by judge alone efficiently, the Court would authorise it.

Other judge alone trials may commence where the Chief Judge has determined that the matter is urgent or of priority.

Melbourne - attendance by practitioners and other court users

The current restrictions require that only matters of urgency or priority be conducted by the Court onsite and only where there is no reasonable alternative. The restrictions explicitly limit the attendance of court users (practitioners, parties and others) to the extent necessary to support the functioning of the court.

More generally, as the head of jurisdiction, the Chief Judge is required to ensure that any onsite work of the Court is conducted responsibly within the COVID environment and having regard to the safety of judges, court staff, and all court users.

To that end, the Court will significantly strengthen the default position it has had since the beginning of the recent lockdown in relation to the remote attendance of practitioners and other court users.  

Onsite attendance at the Court by any practitioner or court user will be very much by exception and will be managed through the Chief Judge’s approval and considered on a case by case basis.

As a general guide:

  • Attendance of a practitioner or court user must be necessary as opposed to convenient or preferable.
  • There is an immediate need to conduct the matter.
  • There is a need for the matter to be conducted onsite at the Court with attendance by others, and there must be no reasonable alternative to conducting the matter with other court users onsite.
  • Only the attendance of those persons required to facilitate the remote hearing will be permitted. The approval for any onsite attendance will be confined to the minimum attendance necessary.

Onsite attendance at Court by the presiding judge (and court staff) may be required to utilise in-court technology, access IT support, or in circumstances where the Court environment is required to appropriately reflect the gravity or solemnity of a particular matter.  

Parties with matters listed during the lockdown period should contact the presiding judge's chambers in the event of any uncertainty.   

Circuit - criminal jury trials

The latest Health Directions provide the Court with an exemption from density quotients for courtrooms and areas of the court building used for jury trials in regional Victoria.

As such, the Court will continue with criminal jury trials on circuit under the existing physical arrangements and empanelment process.

The latest Health Directions carry across the same workplace permissions when a person travels between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. To that end, the Chief Judge must approve the onsite attendance at circuit courts of parties and court users (who cannot otherwise attend remotely).

The Chief Judge has determined that criminal jury trials listed on circuit are urgent and of priority given the COVID-related backlog.

Circuit - non-jury matters

Permission of the Chief Judge for the attendance of practitioners or other court users for all other non-jury matters will be managed through the presiding judge’s chambers in accordance with the approach outlined for Melbourne above.

As a general guide only, the following types of matters may be given permission for the onsite attendance of practitioners and other court users (who cannot otherwise attend remotely).

  • Pleas (including Koori Court, subject to the views of the Elders and Respected Persons)
  • Sentences
  • Conviction appeals involving contested evidence, and
  • Any matter involving liberty.

Parties with matters listed during the lockdown period should contact the presiding judge's chambers in the event of any uncertainty.   

Melbourne and circuit - mask-wearing

Mask wearing is at Setting 2 for cases conducted onsite, namely those in a speaking role, including counsel, are not required to wear a mask, but all other participants and other court users (including jurors) must wear a mask.  Mask setting 2 extends to all circuit matters.

Melbourne and Circuit - Letters of authority

The profession should obtain any letter of authority or work permit to attend onsite at court from their respective organisations, should this be required. This includes those practitioners who may need to travel from Melbourne to a regional court location for a circuit matter.

An accused’s bail papers will suffice to attend onsite at Court.

Update to the profession No.3: commencement of the new Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

In the lead up to the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) on  Wednesday, 1 September 2021, the Family Court of Australia (FCoA) and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) have previously released two updates for the legal profession and the public to advise them of changes to court operations.

This third update provides information on:

  • the objects and purpose of the FCFCOA Act;
  • in the family law jurisdiction:
    • the overarching purpose of family law practice and procedure;
    • pre-action procedures;
    • dispute resolution in the new case management pathway;
    • property matters;
    • the Lighthouse project;
  • the Court’s migration and general federal law (GFL) jurisdictions;
  • and the Commonwealth Courts Portal. 

Click here for more information.

Launch of a new National Contravention List to tackle issues of non-compliance with court orders in family law cases

To address a long-standing issue of non-compliance with court orders made in family law proceedings in the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Courts have created a dedicated national electronic court list that will deal with consistently and responsively with contravention applications. Applications will be given a first return court date within 14 days of filing.

Click here for more information.

Digital Bar Library

Reinforce your argument with authoritative legal resources available to you 24/7 at the Richard Griffith Library and the Digital Bar Library.

The collections are curated by law librarians who can also assist you with case research, database selection, and research strategies.

Find out more at

Profession CPD & Events
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law: Australia’s Legal Obligation to Protect Afghan Interpreters

Join this webinar on the treatment of Afghan interpreters and Australia's legal obligation to protect those who have helped Australia. The Australian government’s treatment of Afghan interpreters and other Afghan nationals who have assisted Australia has been a topic of controversy in past months. This panel will examine Australia’s moral and legal obligation to protect workers who have helped Australian troops.

In this online seminar on Tuesday, 31 August 2021, speakers will discuss historical examples of Australia’s past troop withdrawals (e.g. from Vietnam and Iraq) and how other countries have dealt with the issue (particularly the United States and the United Kingdom). It will also place the debate within the broader context of granting humanitarian visas and Australia’s approach to refugee applications from Afghanistan. In particular, what does the grant of special visas to interpreters and other workers mean for how we treat other refugees fleeing Afghanistan?

Speakers include:

  • Emeritus Professor William Maley, Australian National University
  • Sitarah Mohammadi, Deputy Chair of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network.

Register here.

Upcoming Melbourne Law School events

Melbourne Law School invites you to attend the following upcoming free public events:

  • 2021 Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture: Climate-conscious lawyering presented by The Hon. Justice Brian J Preston FRSN SC, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, on Wednesday, 25 August 2021, 6–7:00pm, online via Zoom. Visit the event's webpage for more information. Register here to receive the Zoom link to watch online.
  • Reimagining the relationship and reshaping our institutions presented by Tim Goodwin, Barrister, Victorian Bar, on Wednesday, 8 September 2021, 6–7:00pm, in-person at the G08 theatre, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham St, Carlton, or online via Zoom. Visit the event's webpage for more information. Register here to attend in person. Register here to receive the Zoom link to watch online.
  • Gridlock: reforming Australia’s institutions to unblock policy reform presented by Professor John Daley, Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School, Wednesday, 15 September 2021, 6–7:00pm, in-person at G08 theatre, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham St, Carlton. Visit the event's webpage for more information. Register here to attend in person.
2021 NELA National Conference (online) 3, 10, 17 and 24 September

Are our environmental laws fit for purpose?

The National Environmental Law Association is holding its annual conference online this year over four afternoons in September.

Session 1 - National environmental law accountability and the need for a national Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)

Friday 3 September 2021 from 4:00-5:30pm AEST (via zoom)


  • The Hon Justice Nicola Pain (NSWLEC) will speak to ‘Conceptualising a Commonwealth EPA.’  
  • A/Prof Robert Niven (UNSW, Canberra) will speak to ‘Environmental Contaminants in Australia” the Need for a Commonwealth EPA.’
  • Mr Peter Cochrane, IUCN Regional Councillor (Oceania), will provide an IUCN Update to coincide with the IUCN’s global Congress opening in Marseille, France.


  • Individual sessions - $50 non-members, $30 members. 
  • All four sessions - $190 non-members, $110 members.

We encourage you to join or renew your membership - $80 per annum for individuals.

More information, including registration, is available here

Become a NELA member here

Mental wellness of lawyers webinar

Join the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of Singapore for a special webinar discussion on the mental health challenges facing legal practitioners on Tuesday, 7 September 2021 at 3:00pm.

While solicitors and barristers carry out vitally important work daily, the pressures and stresses associated with that work can negatively affect a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

Opened by Presidents Dr Jacoba Brasch QC and Gregory Vijayendran SC, the webinar will consider the structural issues contributing to mental health challenges in the legal profession and options to ameliorate these.

This is a free event for Australian lawyers; however, registration is essential.

Register here.

ACLM 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting

Legal aspects of child & adolescent health

Saturday, 11 and Sunday, 12 September 2021 |  Hybrid events | Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart and online

Guest speakers

  • Her Excellency The Honourable Barbara Baker AC - Governor of Tasmania - Opening Address
  • His Honour Coroner Simon McGregor - Victorian Coroner - Recent Trends and Coronial Insights into Child & Adolescent Health (Maurice Wallin Address)
  • The Honourable Elise Archer MP - Attorney-General, Minister for Justice, Corrections, Workplace Safety & Consumer Affairs, & the Arts, Liberal Member for Clark - Dinner Speech
  • Senior Sergeant Marcus Cryer - QLD Police Officer  - Youth in Custody
  • Mr Bill Madden - Lawyer, Carroll & O'Dea Lawyers - Financial Compensation for Child Sex Abuse Victims
  • Dr John Kasinathan - Consultant Forensic, Child, Adolescent and Generalist Psychiatrist - Treatment of Sexual Deviant Disorders in Adolescents and Young People: Opportunities to Reduce Harm
  • Dr George Williams - Paediatrician - Autism in Children

Plus many more ACLM speakers!

Click here for the program.

Register to attend:

  • Live: Open $700 / ACLM: $600 (incl. GST)
  • Virtual: Open $600 / ACLM: $500 (incl. GST)

Flexible attendance options!

  • Live attendees can instantly switch to virtual attendance if unable to attend Hobart.
  • Virtual attendees can switch to live attendance up until 14 days before the event.

Register here & read full inclusions.

About ACLM

The Australasian College of Legal Medicine provides a network for doctors and dentists who have completed dual qualifications in law, and medicine or dentistry, or whose areas of practice are impacted by the law. ACLM holds Annual Scientific Meetings to discuss a variety of legal medicine themes.


ACLM is working with our venue, Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, to ensure a COVID Safe event in line with government requirements. We have the ability to switch the entire event online in case of a worst-case scenario.

Careers & Opportunities
Expressions of interest: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory

The Attorney-General of the Australian Capital Territory, Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA, invites expressions of interest from eligible and suitably qualified people for appointment as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.

The Chief Justice is responsible for ensuring the orderly and expeditious discharge of the business of the Supreme Court.

Expressions of interest are sought from all areas of the legal community, including the private, government and community sectors. Women, people with disabilities, people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, people from culturally diverse backgrounds and those who identify as LGBTIQ are encouraged to apply.

Click here for more information and to apply. Expressions of interest close Sunday, 29 August 2021. 

Expressions of Interest: Magistrates' Courts of Victoria

The Attorney-General, Jaclyn Symes, seek expressions of interest from suitably qualified persons for appointment as magistrates of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

Magistrates are appointed by the Governor in Council, on the advice of the Attorney General. Further information is accessible by clicking the hyperlink:

Magistrate |

Magistrate |

Potential applicants are encouraged to consider the Framework of Judicial Abilities and Qualities for Victorian Judicial Officers, available here.

Expressions of interest close at midnight on Wednesday, 1 September 2021.

Executive Contract Officer – Senior Crown Prosecutor (Darwin)

The Northern Territory DPP has a vacancy for an Executive Contract Officer – Senior Crown Prosecutor based in Darwin.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Applications close Tuesday, 7 September 2021.

Commonwealth Lawyers Association nomination period now open for candidates for 2021-2024

The Bar received an invitation from the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) to provide a nomination for appointment to the CLA Council. The current composition of the Council is available here. For further information about the nomination, please click here.

One of the prerequisites to be able to nominate is CLA membership. The Bar is currently not a CLA member organisation, and members who have individual CLA membership are encouraged to submit a nomination. You can access the form by clicking here.

The CLA is a membership organisation for professional lawyers, academics and students practising within the Commonwealth. It also welcomes international lawyers and academics with an interest in its works. The Council is the governing body of the CLA, with a membership of the Council a highly prestigious appointment, bringing credit and Commonwealth-wide recognition to the individual concerned and to his/her parent institution and country.

Please note that nomination does not guarantee election, as the full CLA membership will participate in an e-vote in December 2021 to select the final composition of the Council.

2022 John Koowarta Scholarship

The Law Council would like to inform the constituent bodies that applications for the 2022 John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship (Koowarta Scholarship) are now open.

Applications close COB Friday, 3 September 2021.

The Eligibility Criteria for the Koowarta Scholarship is attached with this memo and is also available online. Scholarships will be awarded on the recommendation of an Advisory Committee appointed by the Law Council of Australia. The successful applicant will receive a scholarship to the value of up to $5,500 for the 2022 academic year or, on a pro-rata basis, an offer for periods of part-time study.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Council by email at

Click here for the application form.

Australian Academy of Law Annual Essay Prize 2021

The Australian Academy of Law is pleased to announce the offering of its Annual Essay Prize for 2021.

This year, eligibility to submit an essay is broadened by reverting to the original entry rules below.

The Prize is open to anyone, wherever resident, who is studying or has studied legal subjects at a tertiary level or working or has worked in a law-based occupation. There is no limit by reference to the age, seniority, experience of, or position held by, a person who may submit an entry. Accordingly, judicial officers, legal practitioners, legal academics and law students are all eligible to submit an essay.

The amount of the Prize is $10,000.

The essay topic for the Prize in 2021 is as follows:

"Outstanding fundamental issues for First Nations Peoples in Australia: what can lawyers contribute to the current debates and their resolution?

Note: ‘Outstanding fundamental issues’ may include, but are not limited to, constitutional recognition, treaty or bijuralism.”

The deadline for submitting an essay is Tuesday, 31 August 2021, and this time limit is strictly observed, as the Rules Governing the Annual Essay Award make clear.

Those Rules can be accessed on the Academy’s website:

Refer to the Academy’s website for further information about the actual submission of an entry and information on previous winners.

In Brief submissions

If you would like to contribute relevant news, events, and updates for barristers and the legal profession to In Brief, please send an email with your content to or complete this submission form.

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 26th August 2021