Message from the President
It’s been a difficult week for all of us as we adjust to the new environment the coronavirus has foisted upon us, and as we look with uncertainty to the weeks and months ahead. Every day, there have been new challenges to try to take in our stride.
I know that many of you will be reading this from your home office – and for some of you, this is your dining table or kitchen bench. I hope that in whatever working environment you find yourself, you continue to enjoy the company of your colleagues – whether it be via phone, email, zoom, skype, house party or carrier pigeon.
I’m really delighted to have received many emails of support from members over the past week. These are trying times, and I’ve been impressed with the stories I’m hearing of how well members are adapting, and tales of how technology is already being successfully harnessed to allow us work remotely and to help the wheels of justice keep turning. Of course, some of us adapt more quickly than others. While it’s hard to appreciate the ‘opportunity’ now, this crisis has the potential to change the way we do things – for the better – forever.
As a community – local, national, global – we are currently experiencing something that is unique in most of our lifetimes: the wartime sensation of universal adversity. Every person we encounter, every stranger we pass in the street, is labouring under same strain and uncertainty that we are. Please do remain patient with each other, the judiciary, VicBar and BCL staff (even the panicked hoarder in the supermarket). Our Bar, and our community, will survive this if we can be patient and kind to one another.
In the similar vein of collegiality, I’d also like to reiterate my message to members earlier in the week about the offer of BCL for rent relief for April. I’d like to thank those of you who have committed to continue to pay rent for your chambers and ask those of you would like to access relief to follow the instructions in this letter.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve been hearing many different experts – and some non-experts – speak about why the federal and state governments are taking the decisions they are in the battle against the continued spread of COVID-19. Last week, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity – a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital – hosted an online panel discussion about COVID-19. The Doherty Institute is at the forefront of the global response to the virus. Its researchers were the first outside of China to grow and share the virus.
I thought that you may find the panel discussion helpful in answering some of your questions about the virus, its transmission, and the workplace and community impacts. You can watch the session here.
Continued updates about operations and practices in courts, tribunals and across the profession; future planning
The courts continue to provide us with directions about their operations in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The CEO will continue to share regular updates with members as news is announced. All of these updates, current government advice, and the actions that the courts, the Victorian Bar and BCL are taking are on the member health and wellbeing page.
We are currently at Stage 2 restrictions in Victoria, and the prospect for further restrictions is very much alive. Rest assured that, alongside the courts and the other key stakeholders in the justice system, we are actively working on our contingency planning so that the wheels will keep turning as and when more onerous restrictions are imposed.
Stay in touch
On this Friday afternoon, when you may otherwise have been with colleagues sipping a pinot or a pint, think about ways to stay in touch with each other virtually – a Hendrick’s on house party, a Sambuca over skype, even a Frangelico over the phone (if that’s your thing). Stay close, and stay in touch.
Have the best weekend you can in these difficult times.