DownUnderAllOver

DownUnderAllOver

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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Hakea Detention Of Juveniles

Stephen Gray
Western Australia

After nearly a year where over 100 mostly Indigenous teenage prisoners had been housed controversially in WA’s high security Hakea Prison, prisoners have finally been returned to WA’s only juvenile prison, Banskia Hill. Banksia Hill was severely damaged in a riot in January which resulted in the prison being made uninhabitable whilst awaiting repairs. WA Supreme Court Chief Justice Wayne Martin had acknowledged that conditions in the adult prison including
23-hour lockdowns, use of physical restraints and staff shortages were ‘less than optimal’. The remarks were made in a failed
legal challenge in the Supreme Court by the family of a young inmate to the transfer of teens to Hakea which was backed by Amnesty International. WA’s Inspector of Custodial Services, Neil Morgan in his report about the riot concluded that the riot was inevitable and largely sparked by staff shortage-related lockdowns. He concluded that Banksia Hill had been at a ‘crisis point’ and risk of major incident and that it was essential Banksia Hill return to providing a full and active regime ‘including rehabilitative programs and recreation’. Amnesty International had also raised concerns as to the shocking state of youth detention provision in the state, which has the highest rate of youth Indigenous detention in Australia. Hopefully these concerns will be heeded and the state government will put in place sufficient staffing and programs to alleviate the crises in juvenile detention.

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 279

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Mental health laws

Steven Castan
Western Australia

The Mental Health Bill 2013, introduced into the Western Australian parliament on 23rd October 2013, replaces the Mental Health Act 1996.

It is considered by the state government an important stage in the mental health law reform agenda in WA. A controversial aspect of the new legislation is that children will be able to consent to Electro-convulsive therapy, known as ECT from the age of 14 if they are a voluntary patient.

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 280

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News From Victoria

Stephen Gray
Victoria

How the criminal law should respond to family and sexual violence has been a hot political topic in Victoria for the past ten years. This has been reflected in recent changes to the law of rape, as well as that governing the related defences of self defence, provocation and defensive homicide. Both these areas are currently subject to Victorian Department of Justice reviews. Both are likely to see further changes soon.

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 280

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News From Tasmania

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

Recent amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) mean that Tasmania has some of the toughest
anti-discrimination legislation in Australia. The amendments extend the existing protection from humiliating, intimidating, ridiculing, offending or insulting conduct to the grounds of race, age, disability, sexual orientation and lawful sexual conduct.
The amendments were welcomed by the Tasmanian

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 279

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Admission Of ‘Bad Character’ Evidence

Kellie Toole
South Australia

When the South Australian parliament passed the Evidence (Discreditable Conduct) Amendment Act 2011 (SA), it skilfully negotiated a legal and political minefield. However, its handling of the latest change in this area of law has been far less adept.

The admission of evidence of the ‘bad character’ of a criminal defendant has long been subject to strict conditions, on the basis that a defendant’s criminal history should not be used to persuade a jury of that person’s guilt in the present.

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 279

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