World premiere – Anthem
At this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival in October, the Barristers Consortium – a group of members of the Victorian Bar who believe that the arts can transform public discourse and society – will be proud to present the world premiere of Anthem, a new theatrical work billed as “a funny and ferocious portrait of a country unable to reconcile its past, uncertain of its future and political vision”.
Anthem weaves together four stories by four writers – Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves and Christos Tsiolkas, reunited with composer Irine Vela, who worked together on the landmark Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? in 1998, 21 years ago.
The work is all but certain to enter the canon of great Australian plays, and would not have been possible without the generous support of members of our Bar.
The play runs from Tuesday 1 October to Sunday 6 October, with a post-show Q&A on Friday 4 October. Tickets will sell fast, and this is not to be missed. Information and tickets are available on the Festival website here.
PNG and Solomon Islands training
Another good news story. Thank you to the International Advocacy Training Committee and both the PNG Teaching and Solomon Islands Teaching Teams, led by Guy Gilbert SC and Trevor Wallwork, and assisted by Julie Buxton, for voluntarily taking time out from their busy practices to continue the Bar’s long tradition of partnering with our Pacific Rim neighbours for advocacy training. Their work is valuable and, as you can see, very much appreciated. This year marks the 19th consecutive PNG advocacy course! I understand that two students from Papua New Guinea will be participating in our next Readers’ Course, so I look forward to welcoming them to the Victorian Bar in a month or so.
In June we invited members to complete a survey about the operations and services of the Essoign Club to help ensure that the Club is meeting the needs of its members. The survey was conducted with the assistance of Adept Research and was completed by 417 barristers, of whom 312 were Essoign Club members and 105 were non-members. The high participation rate shows that members are passionate about their Club.
The survey results have been shared with the Essoign Club Committee and Bar Council. They indicate both strengths and weaknesses and, most importantly, areas in which changes can be made to make the Club more attractive to all members of the Victorian Bar. Both the Bar Council and the Essoign Club Committee are committed to the Club’s ongoing success, and I look forward to reporting on the implementation of changes arising out of the survey findings in the weeks and months ahead.
Reporting Update on the Law Council’s Equitable Briefing Policy
For members who have adopted the Law Council of Australia’s Equitable Briefing Policy, I remind you to submit your annual report for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 to the Law Council of Australia. Reports are due by 30 September. Victorian barristers account for 61.4% of all practising counsel Australia-wide to have adopted the policy – a tangible sign of our members’ commitment to equality of opportunity at the Bar. Data from adoptees of the policy is extremely valuable in understanding the progress that has been made, how much further work remains to be done, and the causes of continuing inequality based on gender.
I urge all members, of all levels of seniority, who are yet to adopt the policy to do so now. The policy, which has been endorsed by the Bar Council, aims to achieve a nationally consistent approach towards bringing about cultural and attitudinal change within the legal profession with respect to gender briefing practices. The policy is available for adoption by individual barristers by completing the form available on the Law Council of Australia’s website. Once the policy has been adopted, the Bar has developed a simple worksheet to facilitate the collection and reporting of data required by the policy.
John Emerson Oration – Wed 7 August
A reminder that the Law Council of Australia’s Not for Profit Legal Practice and Charities Committee is hosting the inaugural John Emerson AM Oration, which will be given by Robert Fitzgerald AM and chaired by Jennifer Batrouney QC on the subject “Will Royal Commissions and community expectations change legal practice?”, next Wednesday 7 August, 5-6pm in Court 1 of the Federal Court. More details in the notice below.
Jesting Pilate And Other Papers and Addresses by The Rt Hon Sir Owen Dixon
While I was away over the winter break, I was sorry to miss the launch of the third edition of Jesting Pilate And Other Papers and Addresses by The Rt Hon Sir Owen Dixon. Edited by the Hon Susan Crennan AC QC and Professor The Hon William Gummow AC, this new and expanded edition includes fresh material and context, as well as papers by the editors, in this seminal work concerning one of Australia’s greatest ever jurists and member and former Chairman of our Bar. Click here for more information and to read the foreword by the Hon Susan Kiefel AC, Chief Justice of Australia.
Congratulations to Michael Whitten QC, who has been appointed Lord Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga, commencing 2 September, and to the Honourable Anthony North QC who will be the new Chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission.