Child minding restrictions
I hardly need to remind members of the unwelcome news last Friday that access to in-home child minding for preschool children was restricted. As I indicated on Monday evening, talks were ongoing in an effort to remove that restriction. On Tuesday, I met with senior representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice and Community Safety via Zoom to further discuss this unannounced and unwarranted alteration to child minding arrangements. DJCS, which assisted in setting up the meeting, understand and support the Bar’s position. Unfortunately, the meeting did not achieve much. We are yet to see the latest restrictions in print, but the Victorian Premier’s update suggests that the effective ban on in-home child minding for school-age children will only be lifted for families where both parents are, or the single parent is, an authorised worker. Clearly, this change (assuming it occurs) will only assist a minority.
Moreover, the logic of requiring one parent to be an authorised worker to access in-home child minding for a pre-schooler, but both for a school-age child, is elusive. We will report any changes to the restrictions as soon as they come to hand and continue with representations on your behalf. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the administration of justice suffers.
Health and wellbeing resources for members
I appreciate the hardship faced by many members during this extended lockdown. As well as the financial and mental strain, difficulties with child minding and home schooling, the lack of social interaction, and the inability to play sport interfere with the whole balance of life. May I take the opportunity to remind members to please avail themselves of the range of assistance the Bar provides to members, particularly the Bar’s excellent Health and Wellbeing Portal.
Financial assistance for members
The Victorian Government’s Small Business Covid Hardship Fund is accepting applications until Friday, 10 September. Grants are available if you have suffered a 70% drop in turnover.
The Barristers Benevolent Fund can provide loans and/or grants in necessitous circumstances.
BCL will consider deferment/waiver of some portion of your Chambers rental. Click here to view the COVID-19 BCL Rent Relief Scheme with details on eligibility, criteria, and application form.
Last but by no means least, reach out to your colleagues and talk to them. R U OK? DAY is Thursday, 9 September – your conversation could change a life.
Finally, if you have any suggestions on how the Bar can help further, please contact either the Bar office or any individual Bar Councillor to discuss.
Christopher Blanden QC