I had the great pleasure on Wednesday morning of introducing the Honourable Chief Justice Anne Ferguson to open the Legal Professionals Mental Health Symposium. This inaugural event was co-hosted by the Bar and the Mental Health Foundation of Australia and was the first of its type targeted at the mental health of those in the legal profession. It was one of a range of activities taking place during Mental Health Month in October. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Daryl Williams QC, a Director of the Foundation, for giving the Bar the opportunity of co-hosting this important event.
The Women Barristers Association recently held a session for junior members to discuss their experiences of remote appearances and working from home. I am grateful to them for sharing its summary. The general view seemed to be that, despite some remote advantages, attendance at chambers and in-person court appearances were preferable. This was perhaps best reflected by a general feeling of needing to get “back on the floor”.
I’m sure most of you share that sentiment, in particular those who have coped with the added burden of child minding and home schooling. The support of colleagues and friends in the chamber’s environment, eases the burden of what is already a stressful profession and adds some perspective to our daily challenges. It has been sorely missed.
As we have stressed for many months, decisions in relation to the ‘Authorised Worker’ provisions and the Victorian government health guidelines, are for individual barristers to determine according to their own circumstances. What I would like to reiterate, is that in determining whether it is appropriate to come into chambers, you consider the welfare of those with whom you may come into contact. Don’t come if there is any doubt about your health status, or that of your close contacts. If you do come, ensure you use the QR code when entering chambers buildings. Make sure you wear a mask in common or shared areas, unless you have an exemption. In short, make sure you show consideration for other barristers and staff.
The new mandatory vaccination directions have just been published this morning and we will update members shortly by way of separate bulletin.
Christopher Blanden QC