Reducing the spread of COVID-19
I have had a number of emails from members expressing their concerns about the spread of COVID-19. We are facing an uncertain time, and I wanted to reassure members that we are closely following developments and the most-recent government guidelines. We are also in communication with the courts about their protocols, which reflect our own.
We are working closely with Barristers’ Chambers Limited (BCL) to assist our members to take steps to prevent transmission and prepare for any potential disruption to business. The best way to prevent the spread of any virus is handwashing. BCL has provided freestanding hand sanitiser units in all ground floor lobbies together with individual sanitising hand pump bottles in all bathrooms in all buildings. We urge you to use these. BCL is reviewing additional hygiene measures that they can take. If you need assistance with working remotely, please contact the BCL service desk on 9225 8888.
The latest advice for Victorians is to go about your business and continue healthy habits. While there is no reason to limit your movement in the community, you should isolate yourself at home if you feel sick. Travellers returning from Iran, South Korea, Italy and China, or those close contact with a proven case of COVID-19, must isolate themselves at home for 14 days. If you develop any symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath) you should see a doctor for urgent assessment.
Vale Peter O’Callaghan QC
With familiarity, we can become numb to some of the greatness that surrounds us – the magnificence of the Supreme Court dome, the modernism of the County Court, the talent at the Bar and on the Bench, and the tenacity and humbleness of the community that we serve.
One of the great attributes of the Bar is our collegiality, and that is built in no small measure on the environment in which we work – the close nestle of buildings that are our chambers; chambers which are available to us on terms that provide the lowest barriers to entry of any Bar. This week we lost one of the architects of that environment, and a truly great son of our Bar.
Many of us walk between Owen Dixon East and West with only a passing thought for the inspiration that made these two buildings part of our home. Peter O’Callaghan QC had that inspiration and – as a director of Barristers’ Chambers Limited and Chairman of the Building Committee – was instrumental in bringing that vision to reality. That’s why the Gallery holds his name. That’s why we honour him as epitomising the values of collegiality, compassion and decency, which we like to think of as the hallmarks of our Bar.
Peter passed away early this week. He will be mourned among his family at home and here at the Bar. If you would like to read his obituary, it is here. You can also remember his contribution to the Bar at the unveiling of his own portrait by the Honourable Sue Crennan AC QC here.
Many of you may have seen the funeral notice published in The Age this morning. The family have now decided to hold a private funeral. There will be a future opportunity for members to celebrate the life of Peter and his great contribution.
Congratulations to the 2020 Indigenous Clerks
One of the areas on which the Bar is particularly focused is ensuring that the path to the Bar is open for all – an endeavour close to the heart of Peter O’Callaghan. Part of the Bar’s commitment to that pathway is demonstrated in the Indigenous Clerkship program, now in its 13th year. This year, the Indigenous Justice Committee of the Bar and the Justices of the Supreme Court and Federal Court welcomed four Indigenous law students to the program: Tyson Holloway-Clarke and Art Pitchford (both from Melbourne University), Emma Simpson (Deakin University) and James Kerr (Monash University). Each clerk is paired with a barrister-buddy to help them navigate the Bar and the Courts, and give them an in-depth glimpse of the real life of barrister. Thank you to everyone involved, especially Justice Kaye of the Supreme Court and Justice Bromberg of the Federal Court, for making this a rewarding experience.
Ethical Governance – where the Bar can take a leadership position
Tying the threads between governance, the law and ethical behaviour can be tricky for many of our clients and, indeed, for many lawyers. In celebration of International Women’s Day, I spoke to Melbourne University Law School Alumni about how, as barristers and legal professionals, we can help clients navigate to safe, ethical practices. I met a number of bright and inspiring law students at the event, which was reported by the Law Institute of Victoria here.
Farewell to the Hon Justice Kevin Bell
Yesterday, Senior Vice-President Simon Marks QC represented the Bar at the ceremonial farewell for the Honourable Justice Kevin Bell. You can read the speech here.