AIJA Matters - September 2022

The office of the AIJA is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to the Gadigal elders past and present, to all the Gadigal people and to all First Nations peoples

Message from the President

Welcome to AIJA Matters, our bi-monthly update for AIJA members. We have recently promoted these two AIJA initiatives – the resources on coercive control and the 2022 AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference– to all heads of jurisdictions, law societies and bar associations. We received excellent feedback from the National Judicial College on the Domestic & Family Violence Bench Book, with the CEO Kate Latimer kindly saying judicial officers had “discover[ed] for themselves how invaluable a judicial tool it is” during the College’s one-day program on family and domestic violence. There has also been strong interest from two bar associations and a law society.

Coercive control in some ways is the invisible part of domestic violence but it can be the most dangerous in terms of emotional harm. It can escalate into very dangerous situations and create difficult problems to overcome in court. Following the AIJA’s publication of the National Domestic & Family Violence Bench Book (Bench Book), the AIJA received funding from the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department to undertake consultation and promotion of the Bench Book, including regarding content on coercive control. Professor Heather Douglas conducted this project and the report and resources designed to facilitate judicial education about coercive control are now available on the AIJA website here.

In collaboration with the Law Society of New South Wales, we are pleased to present the 2022 AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference to be hosted live in Sydney, on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 October 2022. Indigenous justice is one of the AIJA’s strategic priority areas, and since 2002 the many complex issues involved in Indigenous justice and youth justice have been examined in the AIJA’s conferences. Improving this situation is something I feel strongly about. I’m confident that the AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference – the first conference we have been able to hold in-person since 2019 – will inform meaningful conversations about potential ways to help reduce over-representation of Indigenous youth in detention and improve Indigenous youth justice outcomes. You can register to attend the conference here.

In other news, I would like to congratulate AIJA Council Member, Dr Brenda McGivern, on her recent appointment as Principal Registrar, District Court of Western Australia and Ms Una Doyle on her appointment as the Chief Executive of the Judicial Commission of New South Wales.

I would also like to congratulate AIJA Council Member Annmarie Lumsden for winning the Terry Keaney Award this year.

I also remind you that membership renewals are now open and close on 30 September 2022. The AIJA relies on your membership to continue its work in providing the highest quality research, conferences and other thought leadership promoting excellence in the administration of justice in Australia, New Zealand and the region. You can renew your membership here.

I hope you enjoy this issue of AIJA Matters.

The Honourable Justice Jenny Blokland
The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration

Excellence in focus

Coercive control
The National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book (NDFVBB) is a publicly available online resource for judicial officers considering legal issues relevant to domestic and family violence-related cases. The NDFVBB will contribute to harmonising the treatment of these cases across jurisdictions along broad principles and may assist judicial officers with decision-making and judgment writing. It provides background information and knowledge supported by research, links to a range of legal and related resources, and practical guidelines for courtroom management that judicial officers may consult when considering the breadth of issues and the appropriate course of action in any individual case.

The NDFVBB has been in operation since 2016 and is updated annually. In 2020, Professor Douglas and her team at University of Queensland conducted a review of the NDFVBB and suggested adding a section specifically addressing the concept of coercive control in greater detail.

In 2021, the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department provided funding to the AIJA for an additional project on coercive control. The AIJA engaged NDFVBB author Professor Douglas and researcher, Ms Hannah Ehler, to undertake the project, with the support of a specialist advisory committee comprised of members of the judiciary experienced in the area of domestic and family violence.

They conducted interviews with 28 judicial officers and five research experts to identify the areas of information needed by judicial officers to better understand coercive control. Following that consultation, Professor Douglas and Ms Hannah Ehler produced a report: Coercive Control and Judicial Education: A Consultation Report. Based on that report, and with input from the AIJA’s specialist advisory committee, Professor Douglas and Ms Greta Robenstone produced the following resources to facilitate judicial education about coercive control:

  • slides for education sessions: ‘Recognising and Responding to Coercive Control’
  • speaker’s notes for the slides: ‘Recognising and Responding to Coercive Control’, and
  • a video ’Coercive Control: Recognition and Response’, featuring members of the judiciary discussing coercive control

The report and supporting educational resources are available on the AIJA website here. 
The consultation has informed the most recent edition of the National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book, in particular section 3.2 ‘Coercive control’

In Profile

Dr Brenda McGivern
Principal Registrar
District Court of Western Australia

Congratulations to AIJA Council Member, Dr Brenda McGivern, on her recent appointment as Principal Registrar, District Court of Western Australia.

Brenda has a PhD in Law and is a nationally accredited mediator and a Vincent Fairfax Fellow, having graduated with a Fellowship in Ethical Leadership in 2021. Before commencing with the District Court on 6 July 2022, Dr McGivern was a Member with the State Administrative Tribunal, working principally in the Civil and Commercial and Human Rights steams of the Tribunal.

Brenda has made many significant contributions to the AIJA since she joined in 2018, including serving on the Council for most of that time and participating in our 2020 conference “Providing Justice in a Viral World – Where to from here?”.

In talking about why the AIJA’s work is so important, Brenda said: “The promotion of fair, transparent and efficient Court processes is an essential component of facilitating access to justice”.

In addition to her work with the AIJA, she has chaired the Paediatric Clinical Ethics Service for the WA Child and Adolescent Health Service since 2020.

Professional updates

Advocating for access to justice in remote communities
The work of the Chief Judge of the Northern Territory Local Court, Elizabeth Morris, recently made the news in a feature article by the ABC.  Chief Judge Morris, who is also an AIJA Council Member, used the opportunity to highlight the need for well-resourced interpreter services, prosecution services and at least two legal aid agencies for the bush court to ensure people in remote communities have access to justice. One of the issues highlighted was that the NT Legal Aid Commission, which has previously defended clients when the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency identifies a conflict of interest, had stopped accepting new remote clients due to funding arrangements. At the end of the article, the NT Attorney-General Chansey Paech said he was “currently seeking urgent funding to ensure the NT Legal Aid Commission can resume bush court services as soon as possible”. The NT Attorney-General is also a speaker at the 2022 AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference.

Webinar on Without Fear or Favour: Responses to the ALRC Report on Judicial Impartiality
The Australian Law Reform Commission is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 September 2022 (12:00pm – 1.30pm AEST) that will share responses from the Government, the bench, the profession and academia to the ALRC’s Final Report. The keynote speaker is the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP and the session Chair is the Hon Justice SC Derrington AM (President, ALRC and Judge, Federal Court of Australia). The panel comprises the Hon. Robert French AC (former Chief Justice of Australia, High Court of Australia Professor), Gabrielle Appleby (Director, The Judiciary Project, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, University of New South Wales), Mr Anthony McAvoy SC (Barrister, Frederick Jordan Chambers) and moderator Sarah Fulton, Principal Legal Officer (A/g).

Tony McAvoy SC, AIJA Board and Council Member, was a member of the Advisory Committee for the ALRC report.

You can register to attend and submit questions to the panel here.

Terry Keaney Award winner
Congratulations to AIJA Council Member Annmarie Lumsden for winning the Terry Keaney Award this year. Annmarie is the Director of the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission and a former Director of Criminal Law at Legal Aid NSW. The award is for dedication to the profession, excellence as a criminal defence lawyer, commitment to clients and concern for social justice. The award is named in memory of a barrister who embodied these qualities.

New Chief Executive appointed to the Judicial Commission
Congratulations to Ms Una Doyle who was appointed as the Chief Executive of the Judicial Commission on 4 July. Ms Doyle, who was previously the Director of Education within the Commission, replaces Ernie Schmatt AM PSM who retired earlier this year.

AIJA resources

National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the Legal Systems Bench Book
Work has started on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the Legal System Bench Book (the bench book), a joint project between AIJA and Melbourne Law School that has been funded by the Commonwealth.

A key element of this project is stakeholder engagement. As a readily available online resource, the bench book will include useful and up-to-date information for stakeholders, especially lawyers and judicial officers, to help develop greater cultural competency throughout the system. It will include extracts of important cases, summaries and links to relevant research, and information to challenge any myths, stereotypes and biases that may be held by practitioners and members of the judiciary.

The project team is currently preparing a workplan for government and progressing toward establishing an Advisory Group for the project that will include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the legal profession and members of the judiciary.

We will continue to provide updates on this important project as we progress it.


AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference 

The AIJA, in collaboration with the Law Society of New South Wales, is proud to present the 2022 AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference. It will be hosted in a hybrid format from Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 October 2022 at Dockside Darling Harbour, Cockle Bay Wharf.

In Australia, half of the children (aged 10–17) in detention are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are grossly over-represented.

Acknowledgement of this serious issue is not a new thing. The AIJA has been attempting to address the issue in its Indigenous justice and youth justice conferences since 2002.

This conference will examine many of the complex issues associated with Indigenous youth justice and promote meaningful discussions about ways to improve the situation. We will be guided by the conference’s 42 expert presenters, including elders, community leaders, medical specialists, academics, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the judiciary and legal profession. Speakers include The Hon. Justice Lincoln Crowley, Supreme Court of Queensland, His Honour Judge Heemi Taumaunu, Chief Judge , New Zealand District Court;  Sheryl Batchelor, Founder and CEO, Yiliyapinya Indigenous Corporation; Dr Hayley Passmore, Senior Research Officer, Telethon Kids Institute; Jonathan Ruddin, Program Director, Aboriginal Legal Services Canada, Tony McAvoy SC, The Hon. Chansey Paech MLA, Attorney-General and Minister  to name just a few.

AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference 

When  Saturday 29 October 2022   
Conference  8.30am - 4.00pm
Gala Dinner  6.00pm - 10.00pm

Sunday 30 October 2022 
Conference  9.00am - 4.30pm

Where  Dockside, Darling Harbour
Cockle Bay Wharf
2 Wheat Road, SYDNEY NSW 2000

Day One 

7.30am - Registration and Refreshments
8.15am - Conference Commences
4.00pm - Conference Concludes
6.30pm - Conference Gala Dinner

Day Two 
8.30am - Registration and Refreshments
9.00am - Conference Commences
4.30pm - Conference Concludes

With an impressive line-up of esteemed panellists and speakers, the conference promises to be illuminating.

More information about the conference can be found on our website here.


AIJA Annual General Meeting
The AIJA Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday 28 October 2022. At this stage the meeting should be in-person and online. You will receive a formal notice of the meeting, which will provide all details.

Australian Academy of Law, Australian Law Journal and the AIJA – Joint Conference 
As a reminder for your diary, on 8 – 10 September 2023 we are holding a 2½ day joint event with the Australian Law Journal (ALJ) and the Australian Academy of Law. The conference marks some important national legal bicentenaries, including the Third Charter of Justice promulgated on 13 October 1823, establishing the Supreme Court for New South Wales, and, for Tasmania, the first sitting of the Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land on 10 May 1824. We thank Justice François Kunc for this initiative and acknowledge the work of the committee, which includes AIJA representative, Justice Steven Rares.

On topic

In this section of AIJA Matters, we curate highlights of recent judicial administration news and insights from local and global sources.

Without Fear or Favour: Judicial Impartiality and the Law on Bias (ALRC Report 138) 
On 2 August, the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, tabled in Parliament the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) recent report on judicial impartiality on 2 August 2022.

In the report, the ALRC made 14 recommendations to promote and protect judicial impartiality and public confidence in the Commonwealth judiciary. These included procedural reform, published guidance for litigants, establishing a Federal Judicial Commission as an additional and accessible oversight mechanism and strengthening institutional structures.

You can download a copy of the summary and final reports here.

Indigenous People and the Criminal Justice System
The second edition of Jonathan Rudin’s book Indigenous People and the Criminal Justice System has just been published.  Jonathan is Program Director of Aboriginal Legal Services Canada and an award- winning author on Indigenous litigation. Jonathan is one of the speakers at the upcoming AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference. For more information on the publication, click here.

Sentencing for domestic violence in the Local Court, Sentencing Trends & Issues
The Judicial Commission of NSW has recently published Sentencing for domestic violence in the Local Court, Sentencing Trends & Issues No 48. This publication on domestic violence is aimed at informing judicial officers, legal practitioners and the community about developments in sentencing law and providing a picture of sentencing for such offences in the Local Court and on appeal to the District Court. You can access a copy of the publication here.

Stay connected

You can follow the AIJA on Twitter at @AIJAJudicial and on LinkedIn. We also regularly update our resources on our website

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