Opinion

In each issue of the Alternative Law Journal, we run an Opinion. Although not necessarily the Opinion of the issue editors, sometimes it will be an editorial which attempts to unify the issue theme, and will point to issues raised in the edition. Other times, the Opinion will be a controversial piece designed to publicise or encourage discussion on a particular topic. But, no matter what, our Opinions are always worth reading. Here are the Opinions that we have published recently.

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A new chapter for the Alternative Law Journal

Melissa Castan, Bronwyn Naylor and Deb Candy

We are pleased to inform you that, after more than 40 years of independent publishing, the Alternative Law Journal is turning over a fresh page with a new publishing arrangement. 

From 2017, we will be joining Sage Publications which will coordinate the production and delivery of the Journal to you, our readers.

As many of you know, the traditional models of academic publishing face increasing pressures on all fronts: financial, technological and in production.

In evaluating our future in the evolving publishing world, we believe that the Journal required the financial and production support available from a larger organisation.

We have been fortunate in coming to an arrangement with one of the world’s largest academic publishers which will ensure the on-going sustainability of our journal.

(2016) 41(4) AltLJ 224

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Guarding against 
law and order excess

Hugh de Kretser

Last year Kumanjayi Langdon, a proud and respected 59-year-old Warlpiri man, died in police custody in Darwin.

His crime? Police suspected he was drinking in a park. He wasn’t causing any disruption, and was polite and cooperative at all times.

Despite the offence carrying a maximum penalty of a $74 fine, he was handcuffed in public and put in the cage on the back of the police van. Police issued him with an infringement notice but still detained him, searching him and placing him in a concrete cell in the watch house with strangers. He died around three hours later of heart failure.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 150

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In  terms of gender equality, we really must do better

Kate Jenkins

I began my new role as Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner knowing there are three areas that require immediate attention.

We have to address the prevalence of violence against women and girls in this country. It's a disgrace.

We also have to address the lack of diversity at decision-making 
levels. Women are significantly under-represented in management and at board level in the public, private and community sectors and in government.

And without equal pay and better lifetime economic security for women and girls, we will never achieve an equal society. In Australia today, the average, full-time, weekly earnings for women is 17.3 per cent less than for men. This really needs to change.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 80

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Community legal centres face funding crisis

Amanda Alford and James Farrell

Legal need is difficult to measure, fluctuates over time and is influenced by a range of factors, however it is  clear that there is significant legal need in Australia. This has been highlighted by a number of key inquiries and reviews,1 including the key (but conservative and now outdated) Legal Australia–Wide (‘LAW’) Survey, which found that 50 per cent of respondents experienced one or more legal problems in the previous 12 months.2 While unmet legal need is more difficult to measure, the Productivity Commission estimates that ‘around 17% of the population or just over a third of those with any legal problem experienced some form of unmet legal need’.3

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 2

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Fair’s fair, inside and out

Deborah Glass
Column

The annual reports of Victoria’s first Ombudsman, Sir John Dillon, appointed in 1973, listed with some pride the reforms his office had pushed through during its inaugural years of operation. Dillon was particularly pleased that he had secured beds for prisoners held in Pentridge Prison’s notorious H Division and had stopped the practice of prisoners breaking rocks.

Dillon also expressed surprise at the number of complaints he received from prisoners: in his first year of office, 391 out of the total of 1334 complaints.

While conditions in Victoria’s prisons have improved markedly over the decades, prisons are still the highest single source of complaints to my office.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 224

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