The National Brief #12

April 2023

New Executive and Council

The ABA held its annual general meeting on Tuesday 22 November 2022. The members of the Executive for 2023 are:

  • President: Peter Dunning KC
  • Vice-Presidents: Roisin Annesley KC and Dominic Toomey SC
  • Treasurer: Andrew Muller
  • Chair of the Advocacy Training Council: Ian Robertson SC

The non-executive members of the Council for 2022 are:

  • Marcus Hassall (President, ACT Bar Association)
  • Gabrielle Bashir SC (President, NSW Bar Association)
  • Duncan McConnel SC (President, NT Bar Association)
  • Damien O’Brien KC (President, Bar Association of Queensland)
  • Mark Hoffmann KC (Immediate Past President, SA Bar Association)
  • Phillip Zeeman (President, Tasmanian Bar Association)
  • Sam Hay KC (President, Victorian Bar)
  • Brahma Dharmananda SC (President, WA Bar Association)

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President's Message

With Easter behind us and autumn closing in quickly, the legal year is well underway, as is my term as President of the ABA.

Preparations are afoot for Cornerstone 2023, the ABA’s National Conference. As I write, the program is being finalised and the registration portal is being completed. I am very excited about the theme — the Rule of Law — and the speakers we are lining up for the event.

The venue, the Langham Hotel on the Gold Coast, is a brand new facility overlooking the iconic beaches of Surfer’s Paradise. I hope to see many of you in person in September.

In 2023, I intend to maintain and expand the ABA’s CPD program. The ABA Constitution calls for us to arrange and promote continuous professional development. We are newly accredited in Western Australia as a CPD provider, which speaks to the quality of our library of webinars.

In terms of expansion, I am promoting the creation of ABA best practice guidelines on matters of general application to Australian barristers.

Within Australia, I have had the privilege of consulting with the Attorney-General’s Department on the development of a Commonwealth Judicial Commission. I have also had the privilege of speaking at the swearing-in of a number of judges to the Federal Court and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. I also spoke recently at the valedictory for Chief Justice Allsop of the Federal Court. I am at the moment organising for those addresses to be circulated, and going forward will circulate them as soon as they are available after I speak.

Beyond our borders, I am developing connections with legal professional bodies throughout Asia. In the coming months, I shall be meeting with the President of Academy for the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice of Taiwan, and attending the International Malaysia Law Conference.

I am very eager to consolidate the achievements of past Presidents of the ABA, and build on them for the future.

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Save the Date: Cornerstone 2023, the ABA National Conference


A photo of the pool at the Gold Coast Langham - clear water looking out over the ocean, blue skies and palm trees: a tropical paradise


Following the success of Re-Emerge 2022, we are excited to share that the 2023 ABA National Conference will take place from 21 – 23 September 2023, at the Gold Coast Langham. The theme will be The Rule of Law.

Stay tuned for more information, including early bird registration.

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New on ABA On Demand: Caring for the Carers and the Legal Assistance Referral Scheme


Image bearing the ABAOnDemand logo and the title of the CPD


It is now commonplace for barristers to be working with seniors or juniors who have significant parental responsibilities, or to have those responsibilities themselves. There are also far more barristers experiencing the joys and tribulations of pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood while juggling a practice. In this webinar, Kavita Balendra (chair), Kate Juhasz, Haroon Hassan and Megan Caristo discuss how we, as a legal community, can support those with parental responsibilities to best achieve their professional goals.

Stream the webinar here.


Image bearing the ABAOnDemand logo and the title of the CPD


The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and the ABA Taxation Committee have recently established a Legal Assistance Referral Scheme to provide pro bono legal assistance to unrepresented taxpayers who have lodged applications for merits review in the AAT’s Taxation and Commercial Division or Small Business Taxation Division.

Please join us for a discussion of the circumstances in which legal assistance may be appropriate under the Scheme, the criteria for eligibility and the process associated with applying for assistance under the Scheme. Our panel includes Deputy President McCabe of the AAT (Division Head of the Taxation & Commercial Division and the Small Business Taxation Division) and Michael Abood of the AAT (National Practice Registrar); Kristen Deards SC (Banco Chambers and Chair of the Australian Bar Association Taxation Committee); and Ermelinda Kovacs (Ground Floor Wentworth Chambers and Member of the ABA Taxation Committee).

Stream the webinar here.

Access to CPD material requires a National Barrister Database account – sign up here. The ABA is now a registered CPD provider in Western Australia.

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The International Malaysia Law Conference 2023 — 10 to 13 July 2023

Navigating the Present, Exploring the Future

Innovation. Technology. Digitalisation. Specialisation. Where are our lawyers at? Are they ideally positioned to fully leverage the opportunities created by the challenges of a demanding present and future? Are they ably equipped to tap into and harness the positive potential of the expanding domestic and global markets?

IMLC 2023 is poised to address the concerns and hurdles legal practitioners face, with the determination to equip them for a rewarding future and to provide a vision for robust growth. We want our lawyers to be inspired and empowered, steadfast yet versatile, resolute and unafraid, and at the ready to embrace the transformations in the evolving legal landscape

Click here for more information


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Asia Pacific Coroners Society Conference 2023 — Truth Telling — 13 to 15 November 2023

The Asia Pacific Coroners Society was established to promote the advancement, best practice and education of coronial law and practice.  

Membership is open to all coroners and to anyone involved in, or associated with, the coronial jurisdiction, such as pathologists, forensic scientists, police investigators, lawyers, and grief counsellors.

This year's conference will run from the 13th-15th November, and will include keynote addresses and sessions providing the opportunity to listen, particularly to the voices of First Nations speakers.

Click here for more information

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High Court Amendment (Forms and Other Matters) Rules 2022

The High Court Amendment (Forms and Other Matters) Rules 2022 were registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments on 21 November 2022.

The Amendment Rules update references to the Sovereign in the court forms to reflect the ascension of King Charles III and make provision for the Court to remove the court forms from the High Court Rules 2004 and to prescribe the forms instead by Practice Direction.

The Amendment Rules also implement the 4% increase to the scale of costs recommended by the Joint Costs Advisory Committee in its Fifteenth Report.  The amendments to the scale of costs in Schedule 2 will apply in relation to all work done and services performed by solicitors after 1 January 2023.

High Court Amendment (Forms and Other Matters) Rules 2022 (PDF) | Explanatory Statement

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Lighthouse Model: Update to the Profession February 2023

New court process focuses on the safety of children and their families by identifying and addressing issues of family violence and other risks.

Lighthouse risk screening and the Evatt List commenced nationally on 28 November 2022. In the first two months since its expansion the Courts have already:

  • Sent over 1700 confidential risk screens;
  • Completed over 600 confidential case file reviews and triage interviews; and
  • Placed over 130 matters on the Evatt List.

This is an encouraging response by parties and the profession as screening at the start of the case will ensure that the Courts can quickly identify, assess and help families impacted by family violence and other family safety risks. The Courts thank the profession for the early support of this important initiative. With the expansion now well underway, the Courts call upon the profession, and those working in the family law sector, to familiarise themselves with this important family safety initiative and to communicate the process and benefits with their clients.

The purpose of this update is to focus on the key benefits of screening, provide frequently asked questions and answers the Courts have received, and advise where to go for further information, resources and training. The Lighthouse (and importantly, its objectives) received widespread support at a launch held in Sydney late last year. A recording of the launch, and a video compilation of the television media coverage, is available from the Courts’ website.

Benefits of risk screening

By encouraging your client to undertake the confidential Family DOORS Triage questionnaire, practitioners and members of the profession are strengthening their client’s support in navigating the family law system.

By completing the Family DOORS Triage questionnaire, clients are provided:

  • An opportunity to self-identify risk;
  • Responsiveness to serious risk issues;
  • Online safety planning;
  • Referrals to legal and social support (where appropriate); and
  • Placement on the most suitable case management pathway based on the identified needs and circumstances of their family.

The Family DOORS Triage questionnaire not only assists the Courts but also helps practitioners and members of the profession to enhance their response and understanding of risk factors present. By completing Family DOORS Triage, clients will receive targeted support for their concerns. Importantly for your client, they can be confident that their responses to the risk screen are confidential and inadmissible.


Part IIA of the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act) prevents the disclosure and admission into evidence, of information that is disclosed through the Courts’ family safety risk screening process, relating to a party to proceedings under the Act. Part 11A of the Act provides that:

  • a party cannot be asked to disclose whether or not they undertook risk screening;
  • the risk screen responses, classification and referrals arising  from the screening process, cannot be used as evidence in a proceeding; and
  • information shared or provided by a party to a triage counsellor in the course of conducting risk screening cannot be disclosed, or used as evidence.

More information on how the risk screen is protected under Part IIA can be found here.

This update is also available online:

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In Other News

A 10-year-old can’t make adult decisions, so why do we hold them criminally responsible? — Peter Dunning KC, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, 22 December 2022

Law Council of Australia and Australian Bar Association extremely concerned over police informants legislation — ABA/LCA press release, 10 February 2023

International Women’s Day - “Cracking the Code: Innovation for a Gender Equal Future” — ABA press release, 8 March 2023

The Australian Bar Association Welcomes the Appointment of the Next Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia — ABA press release, 31 March 2023

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Around the country


An array of bewigged barristers face the Full Court of the High Court


The Silks Bows took place at the High Court of Australia on Monday 6 February 2023, followed by the annual gala dinner, which was held at the National Gallery of Australia.

In her final year as Chief Justice of the High Court, and in honour of her long years of service to the legal profession, Chief Justice Susan Kiefel was given a life membership of the ABA.

In nominating her Honour, Mr Dunning said, “I have known the nominee throughout the entire time of her career as an Australian jurist.

“In fact, I have appeared before her Honour in the Supreme Court of Queensland, the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court of Australia.

“Kiefel CJ places considerable emphasis on the collegiality of the profession at every level, from junior barristers to judges at the highest level.

“Her Honour’s leadership in terms of courtesy in the courtroom and exposing the rationale for decision-making of the implied freedom of political communication merit particular attention.

“It would seem appropriate that the ABA mark the pending retirement of a Chief Justice of the High Court at an appropriate occasion.”

Mark Costello SC gave the traditional toast to the judiciary, and did so with considerable wit and style.

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Dates for the diary

The International Malaysia Law Conference 2023 — 11-13 July 2023

2023 ABA National Conference — 21-23 September 2023

Asia Pacific Coroners Society Conference 2023 - Truth Telling 2023 — 13-15 November 2023

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