Opinion

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  • Does the pandemic have us working longer hours?

    24th Sep 2020

    The new normal of remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it the luxury of plasticity in how and when work is done. However, there are also downsides to working from home.

    Travis Schultz explores the difficulties that have accompanied the loss of demarcation between our work and personal lives, with employees working longer hours than ever before.

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  • Should employers go to gaol for underpayment of wages?

    17th Sep 2020

    Many instances of systemic underpayment of wages originate from the reckless indifference of employers towards correct pay practices.

    While supporters of tougher laws believe that criminal penalties would act as a better deterrent to employers than the issuing of fines, Geoff Baldwin reminds us that there is insufficient evidence of the correlation between harsh penalties and reduced offending. He suggests that putting additional resources into compliance auditing may be more successful in reducing wage underpayment.

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  • Happiness is an inside job

    10th Sep 2020

    Clarissa Rayward reflects on the significance of R U OK?Day and explores the foundational ingredients of any happy and successful legal career.

    She interviews ALA member Dean Spanner in her podcast Happy Lawyer Happy Life on prioritising the things that matter: health and relationships. They discuss mindset, perspective and spirituality, and how with hard work and clarity around what brings joy you can live a successful life in and outside of the law.

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  • ASIC’s loss to Westpac is terrible for everyone

    3rd Sep 2020

    Despite its Federal Court loss in Australian Securities and Investments Commission v Westpac Banking Corporation [2020] FCAFC 111, ASIC was right to appeal the dismissal of its responsible lending case, says Andy Schmulow. He discusses how this case has exposed the deficiencies of the purported remedy for reckless lending and advocates for urgent legislative reform.

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  • Developments in institutional liability for sexual assault: SMA v John XXIII College (No.2) [2020] ACTSC 211

    27th Aug 2020

    Angela Sdrinis discusses the recent case of SMA v John XXIII College (No.2) [2020] ACTSC 211, which explored the liability of a university residential college for a sexual assault. The case shows that in some circumstances the common law is evolving to recognise that institutions should be held liable for the intentional torts of another person (even if they are not an employee) against vulnerable adults.

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  • COVID-19 shows the cracks in our aged care system

    20th Aug 2020

    Catherine Henry questions why we are seeing so many COVID-19 deaths in aged care, and suggests that it's not just that older Australians are more vulnerable to the infectious disease. She believes that COVID-19 is, in many ways, just the next thing to expose the systemic problems in an aged care system that demands a major overhaul.

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  • Call for NSW workers’ compensation scheme to be scrapped

    13th Aug 2020

    In light of concerns raised in the recent media investigation of the NSW workers' compensation scheme, Jeremy Roche compares NSW’s scheme with that of Queensland. He claims that NSW should copy the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme as it is more profitable, fair, efficient and sustainable and injured claimants, along with insurers and employers, are far better off.

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  • Sentencing, over-policing, STMP and crime reduction in NSW

    6th Aug 2020

    Mark Warren analyses statistics to determine the effectiveness of NSW sentencing reforms on prison population, police and crime reduction, and STMP technology.

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  • Character test in s501 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) DOES apply to Temporary Protection Visas

    30th Jul 2020

    George Newhouse provides an update on the overruling of BAL19, a decision that constrained the Minister for Home Affairs’ power to refuse a visa for refugees and asylum seekers under the s501 character test of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

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  • Do defamation laws need to be updated in the digital age? (part 2)

    23rd Jul 2020

    In the second part of this two-part series, Richard Bradshaw and Caitlin Walkington cover the common distinct features of online publications and what changes should be made to defamation laws.

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  • Do defamation laws need to be updated in the digital age? (part 1)

    16th Jul 2020

    Social media and the use of the internet have evolved in a manner that neither the legislators nor the courts could have foreseen, allowing defamatory material to be published and accessed in unprecedented ways.

    In the first part of this two-part series, Richard Bradshaw and Caitlin Walkington cover who is a 'publisher' in the digital age and the differences between primary and secondary publishers.

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  • New workplace manslaughter laws in Victoria

    2nd Jul 2020

    Sam Vasaiwalla explains the new Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Act 2019 (Vic), effective from 1 July 2020. This new law makes workplace manslaughter a criminal offence in Victoria, with penalties of up to $16.5 million and 20 years’ jail.

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  • How to avoid becoming #youtoo: Minimising sexual harassment at work

    25th Jun 2020

    Employers are liable for the conduct of their employees if they sexually harass other workplace participants. However, liability can be absolved if an employer proves that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the inappropriate conduct from occurring. 

    Larissa Andelman explores what ‘taking all reasonable steps’ really entails under the law, and what measures law firms can put in place to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment.

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  • Did the employer’s negligence cause the sales assistant’s psychiatric injury? Which case won?

    18th Jun 2020

    Phil Griffin explores the facts and outcomes of a recent psychiatric injury case decided in Queensland. This case highlights that the risks inherent in an employee’s role are an important consideration in determining the reasonable precautions that an employer must take to meet its duty of care to its employees.

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  • Don Dale ruling a strong message against use of force on children

    11th Jun 2020

    Greg Barns discusses the High Court’s decision, on 3 June, that the use of tear gas on four youths at the NT’s Don Dale detention centre was unlawful. He explores the implications of this decision, suggesting that it illustrates the need for discussion about changing the culture of dealing with young people who intersect with the criminal justice system.

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  • How NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) facilitates financial abuse

    4th Jun 2020

    In this article, Anna Kerr and Andrea Verteouris explore how the NSW policy of denying the registration of a motor vehicle in joint names can be detrimental to the safety of women and children affected by domestic violence. They call on the NSW government to reinstate the option of registering motor vehicles in joint names or at least enable a second interest in a vehicle to be noted.  

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  • Death sentence for poverty? Why the over-representation of First Nations women prisoners matters during the pandemic

    27th May 2020

    ALA member and a leading advocate for the protection of criminalised women's human rights, Debbie Kilroy OAM, has had her own frightening encounter with the COVID-19 virus. Debbie is desperately worried about the threat to lives if there is an outbreak of the virus in an Australian women’s prison, particularly for over-represented First Nations women, many of whom have chronic health conditions. In this article, Debbie explains the key issues and provides a compelling list of immediate action priorities. 

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  • Gender issues for lawyers during and after the pandemic

    21st May 2020

    In this article, Emma Dawson explores the disproportionate impact on women's careers, remuneration and superannuation both during the COVID-19 shutdown, and in its economic aftermath. Although working remotely during the shutdown period has no doubt been somewhat of an ‘eye-opener’ for some of the domestic partners of female lawyers about the unpaid work so many do, it may be too early to hope for a permanent shift in the division of unpaid domestic work. Nevertheless, the building blocks have been laid. Post-COVID will offer many challenges, but also many opportuntities to do things differently.

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  • A spotlight on the Newmarch House tragedy: Where to next?

    14th May 2020

    In this article, Catherine Henry argues that the rampant, nationwide failures in governance, accountability, policy and the regulatory framework of aged care have been laid bare in the tragedy that has unfolded at Newmarch House. Catherine attributes these failures to the flawed Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth), whose provisions prefer the interests of providers over those of residents and their families. She calls for a dedicated inquiry into the Newmarch House tragedy and for the enactment of a new Aged Care Act which addresses the shortcomings of the current aged care system. 

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  • Swapping silks for trackies

    7th May 2020

    While there may be some of you who won't agree, for many lawyers running their own practices, working from home may well be better than planning and taking a holiday. In this engaging article, it is clear that Tom Percy QC is relishing working from home during the COVID-19 shutdown and has enthusiastically embraced the new ways of engaging with courts and clients. 

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