Your voice at work A summary of recent media statements and Society initiatives Law Society supports action of the State Attorney General to address legal assistance funding to community legal centres The Law Society of Western Australia welcomed the announcement by the State Attorney General, John Quigley to provide community legal centres with almost $1.2 million to compensate for the loss of funding from the Legal Contribution Trust. The announcement followed an earlier announcement by the Federal Attorney General that the Federal Government would not proceed with previously proposed cuts to the legal assistance sector. “The Law Society of Western Australia welcomes today’s announcement by the State Attorney General too, and will continue its work with the Law Council of Australia and other law societies across the country in campaigning for a longer term, sustainable funding model to overcome the escalating crisis in the legal assistance sector” Law Society President Alain Musikanth said.
Law Society welcomes cancellation of proposed cuts to legal assistance funding The Law Society of Western Australia welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that it will restore funding to community legal centres in the upcoming Budget and not proceed with previously proposed cuts of approximately $35 million. “I am delighted that the Federal Government will not be proceeding with previously proposed cuts to the legal assistance sector. A reduction in funding of around 30 percent would have been extremely damaging to community legal centres generally, and to legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in particular,” said Law Society President Alain Musikanth. “Practitioners in our legal assistance sector do terrific work in ensuring access to justice for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, making it vital that their organisations receive adequate funding. This announcement will be a great boost to these practitioners and, most importantly, to their clients who desperately seek legal help, and the Federal Government is to be congratulated on its decision not to proceed with the cuts,” Mr Musikanth said.
“The Law Society of Western Australia had joined with the Law Council of Australia and other law societies across the country in campaigning for the proposed cuts to be reversed and I am pleased that the Federal Government has responded appropriately. As Law Council President Fiona McLeod SC has noted, it is important that the work to maintain acceptable levels of legal assistance continues, especially in light of the Productivity Commission’s 2014 recommendation of an additional $200 million. “Prior to the State election, the Law Society had encouraged local politicians to confirm their commitment to an additional $8 million, plus long-term funding to overcome the rapidly escalating crisis in the legal assistance sector. The Law Society will continue to work at State level to ensure the Western Australian community is properly served,” Mr Musikanth said.
Law Society congratulates Amanda Forrester SC on appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions The Society warmly congratulates Amanda Forrester SC on her appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Western Australia. Society President Alain Musikanth said, “Amanda Forrester SC is an experienced and highly respected member of the Western Australian legal profession and an outstanding choice as DPP. The fact that Ms Forrester is also the first female to occupy that office in Western Australia reflects a significant milestone in the history of the profession.” Ms Forrester studied at The University of Western Australia, completing her law degree in 1994. Ms Forrester is a former member of the Law Society, having first joined in May 1996. Ms Forrester has been Acting Director of Public Prosecutions since November 2016, filling the vacancy left by Joseph McGrath SC (as His Honour then was) upon his appointment as a justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Before her appointment as Acting DPP, Ms Forrester held the positions of Consultant State Prosecutor and Senior State Prosecutor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Western Australia.
Law Society celebrates Anniversaries of the Old Court House and Francis Burt Law Education Programme On Friday, 24 March 2017, the Society celebrated a significant milestone for the City of Perth’s oldest public building; it was 180 years to the day since the first church service and unofficial opening of the Old Court House was held on Good Friday 1837. “Situated in Stirling Gardens, next to the Supreme Court building, the Old Court House has been used for a number of purposes during its rich history, including as the Supreme Court, the Arbitration Court, the Law Society’s premises and currently the Law Society’s Old Court House Law Museum,” said Society President Alain Musikanth. The Museum recently unveiled a new exhibition, entitled From Past to Present: The changing face of the law in Western Australia, which examines how the law has evolved in our State. The Museum is one of only a handful of law museums in the world and promotes understanding of the law within the community. Entry is free for the public. 2017 is a year of anniversaries for the Law Society; besides marking 90 years since the association was founded, it is also the 30th anniversary of the Francis Burt Law Education Programme and Mock Trial Competition for school students. “The Francis Burt Law Education Programme, or the Centre as it was originally known, was launched by Sir Francis Burt, then Chief Justice, during Law Week 1987. It has been an integral part of the Law Society’s community engagement focus ever since, providing programmes for more than 150,000 people over the last 30 years, the majority of whom were students,” said Mr Musikanth. The Mock Trial Competition was also introduced in 1987, with the goal of raising awareness of the law and legal institutions among young people. It is a fun, dynamic way for students to become familiar with the law and helps them build useful research and advocacy skills. “To say the Competition remains popular is an understatement. There has been a significant increase in student participation numbers in recent years, with 1,295 students in 127 teams from 55 schools now taking part in 2017,” Mr Musikanth said.
Brief May 2017