DUAO - 2013 - Vol 38(2)

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Developments around the country

DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.

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No right to an independent investigation of police complaints

Gudrun Dewey and Stephanie Cauchi
Victoria

In Bare v Small [2013] VSC 129 (25 March 2013) the Supreme Court ruled that the right to protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in section 10(b) of Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (‘Charter’) does not include a right to an independent investigation of a complaint of such treatment. In a restrictive reading of the Charter’s obligations, Justice Williams also held that a decision of a public authority made in breach of the Charter’s obligation to act compatibly with and properly consider human rights, does not make the decision invalid or amount to jurisdictional error.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 133

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Legal Aid funding in crisis

The Victorian Committee
Victoria

Earlier this year, Victoria Legal Aid implemented a series of sweeping funding changes. Its decision to reduce funding of instructing solicitors in trials to preparing the case and two half-day appearances was received with a sounding backlash from the legal community. Several Supreme Court justices and a County Court judge stayed trials after the defence lost their instructing solicitors. This has resulted in significant delays in criminal proceedings.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 133

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Serious injury and gross violence in Victoria

Stephen Gray
Victoria

The Baillieu/Napthine Liberal government has followed through on its promise to introduce statutory minimum (that is, mandatory) sentences for offences of ‘gross violence’. According to Attorney-General Robert Clark’s Second Reading Speech of December 2012, the legislation is designed to send a clear message that ‘adult offenders who inflict gross violence will go to jail and stay in jail for at least four years, unless the court decides that a genuinely special reason applies’.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 132

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Voluntary Assisted Dying

Tasmanian Editorial Committee
Tasmania

Voluntary assisted dying is once again on the law reform agenda in Tasmania with the release of a consultation paper co-sponsored by Premier Lara Giddings and Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim. The paper entitled Voluntary Assisted Dying — A Proposal for Tasmania puts forward a model that, in the author’s opinion, will provide safeguards against abuse and meet the expectations of the community. Under the proposed model, voluntary assisted dying will only be available to Tasmanian residents who have given verbal and written consent and have been assessed by two doctors. Controversially, the proposed model is restricted to those suffering from a ‘terminal illness’. Some respondents to the paper have argued that the reform does not go far enough with Community Legal Centres Tasmania arguing that all patients with a debilitating or progressive illness should also be eligible for voluntary assisted dying. Responses to the consultation process have closed and will assist in the formation of a draft Bill likely to be tabled later this year.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 132

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Another brick in the wall? Or about time? Regulation of body piercing

Catherine Irving
South Australia

Body piercing and body modification of minors is now regulated in South Australia under Part 4 Summary Offences Act1953 (SA). While tattooing of people under 18 has been illegal in South Australia for many years, body piercing and other body modifications have not been specifically addressed by legislation. Various Bills regarding body piercing have been before Parliament since 2001, but none were successful until the Summary Offences (Tattooing, Body Piercing and Body Modification) Amendment Act 2011 became law in December 2012.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 132

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