A landmark High Court decision has set a significant legal precedent. Victims of rape and of other traumatic events who suffer psychological illness may be able to sue for compensation many years later.
Rights, Responsibilities and Respect.
The report by the Human Rights Consultation Committee, Victoria, chaired by Professor George Williams with committee members Rhonda Galbally AO, Andrew Gaze and The Hon Professor Haddon Storey QC, was presented to the Victorian Government in November 2005. The report recommends that the Victorian Parliament should enact a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. It should be an ordinary Act of Parliament like human rights laws operating in the Australian Capital Territory, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This would ensure the continuing sovereignty of the Victorian Parliament.
Accountability of Governments and Public Servants
The Melbourne Conversations and Future Leaders Forum on Accountability issues was held at the BMW Edge. Dr Helen Szoke, CEO Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission described the impact this Victorian legislation is having. Mr Lex Lasry Q.C. emphasised the role the legal profession needs to play in developing accountability. Dr Zoe Wainer, President of the AMA, drew on her professional experiences, to illustrate the consequences of accountability confusions and David Marr reviewed some recent examples of ‘systemic failures’. While speakers did not address the questions of “What’s to be done now?” the questions from the audience, and the talk after the meeting, showed there is support for action now. The Hamer Family fund supported the accountability initiative with a flyer advising members of the public to contact their electorate’s candidates on the accountability issue.
Book to read
Women and the Law in Australia, edited by Professor Patricia Easteal, AM, PhD and ACT Australian of the Year 2010.
This book is an important milestone in the pursuit of justice and equity. It was launched in August 2010 by the Governor-General at the Australian Women Lawyers Conference. Her Excellency also wrote the Foreword.
The text is a compilation of contributions from 30 esteemed experts with a wealth of experience and expertise, drawn from legal practice, academia and government. Each author contributes a thorough and rigorous review of gender issues in their own diverse specialist areas of practice such as criminal, family, discrimination, employment, and commercial law. They identify specific examples of biases, which might lead to existing legal categories and processes being impractical, inappropriate or disadvantageous for women, especially for those with disabilities, indigenous women, lesbians, and migrants. What follows is thoughtful and pragmatic guidance for responding to the variable and complex needs of women as defendants, complainants, prisoners, victims, and practitioners. This includes an appreciation of the other legislative, bureaucratic and societal changes that are required to raise awareness and to bring about more change.