SafeWork NSW releases new service standard

The process and procedure for investigations undertaken by SafeWork NSW (SafeWork) is now clearly outlined in a new service standard released this month.

SafeWork commonly undertake investigations in response to workplace incidents that result in the serious or fatal injury of workers, but may also investigate dangerous occurrences, serious safety risks or work-related illnesses. 

The new service standards set out the process of the investigation, timing and general information regarding considerations that SafeWork take into account in deciding whether any enforcement action should be taken.

The new service standard provides useful guidance to risk managers and legal teams, including those in government, in terms of what to expect after a notification to SafeWork of a serious incident.

A copy of the new standard can be found here.

Author:  Michael Selinger

In the media

Why coercive control is still legal despite it being a major factor in most domestic violence deaths
A NSW parliamentary committee is currently weighing up the pros and cons of criminalising coercive control but only one thing is clear so far, any changes to the law will be difficult (26 February 2021).  More...

News media bargaining code - register of news businesses
The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code was passed by parliament on 25 February 2021. Applications to news businesses to participate in the code will soon open. They'll also have a role in appointing mediators and arbitrators in some circumstances (25 February 2021).  More...

Three silks: District Court Judge material
Three highly experienced NSW barristers have been appointed to the District Court of NSW, including an Acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, a former Deputy Senior Public Defender and a senior member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (24 February 2021).  More...

Dangerous new surveillance law must be scaled back
The Human Rights Law Centre has expressed alarm about an expansive new law proposed by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton that would give federal police invasive powers to takeover people's online accounts and monitor online activity (24 February 2021).  More...

New standard for SafeWork investigations
The NSW government has launched a new service standard for handling workplace incidents in order to improve transparency and communication with impacted parties (23 February 2021).  More...

Guidance released for vaccine rollout in Australian workplaces
The Fair Work Ombudsman and Safe Work Australia have released updated guidance for employers and employees about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the workplace (19 February 2021).  More...

Government moving in the right direction on Federal Judicial Commission
The Law Council of Australia has long advocated for the establishment of a standalone Federal Judicial Commission and considers the government is moving in the right direction by seeking independent legal advice on its establishment, but needs to be at arm's length from the executive government (19 February 2021).  More...

Passage of flawed merger bill tasks family law judges with an impossible task
The government's Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019 passed both Houses on 18 February 2021, after gaining support from independent Senator Rex Patrick and One Nation (19 February 2021).  More...

ABA supports the establishment of a Federal Judicial Commission
The Australian Bar Association (ABA) joins the Law Council of Australia in supporting the establishment of a Federal Judicial Commission to promote confidence in the administration of justice. The President of the ABA said the establishment of a Federal Judicial Commission would be an important step to enhance the public's confidence in the administration of justice (17 February 2021).  More...

Vaccinations to make point of CALD communities
The Department of Health has published a plan to ensure the COVID-19 vaccination program includes members of Australia's culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities (15 February 2021).  More...

DTA shows way on digital identity laws
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has released a report on the feedback it received during consultation on Digital Identity legislation. DTA's Digital Identity Legislation Synthesis Report can be accessed here (15 February 2021).  More...

In practice and courts

ABA The National Brief #1 - 17 February 2021
In the first of the ABA's national communications, President Matthew Howard SC writes about the ABA's priorities in 2021 and the important issues affecting the profession it will be addressing. Read more here.

Sentencing of federal offenders in Australia - a guide for practitioners - fourth edition
The fourth edition of this comprehensive sentencing Guide reflects the law as at 1 December 2020, and has been updated by Des Lane of the Victorian bar. It is an essential resource not only for CDPP lawyers, but for other legal practitioners, judicial officers, and others who deal with sentencing of Federal Offenders (23 February 2021). Read the guide here.

ACMA consultations

Credit betting prohibitions in the Interactive Gambling Act - consultation 4/2021
We are looking into whether interactive gambling credit betting prohibitions are operating effectively. Closes 31 March 2021.  More...

Compliance priorities 2021-22 - consultation 02/2021
We're developing our compliance priorities for our 2021-22 work program. Submissions close on 05 March 2021.  More...

OAIC: Our FOI disclosure log
The information described in our disclosure log has been released by the OAIC under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and is available for public access. 08 February 2021 - FOI request - a copy of NobleOak's Notifiable Data Breach Form. Read more here.

Family Court of Australia - Lighthouse Project update
With the Lighthouse Project Pilot now well underway, the Court calls upon the profession to familiarise themselves with this important project and communicate the process and benefits with their clients. Please refer to the update and FAQs released by the Court here.

LCA Submissions
19 February 2021 - Law Council
Migration and Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020
18 February 2021 - Law Council
Commonwealth Integrity Commission Consultation Draft

Current Consultations

Environment and Communications References Committee
Press Freedom on 9 February 2021, the reporting date was extended from 17 February 2021 to 4 March 2021.

Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020 [Provisions] and Data Availability and Transparency (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020 [Provisions]
The closing date for submissions is 12 March 2021.
Operation and management of the Department of Parliamentary Services
On 13 November 2020, the reporting date was extended to 11 March 2021.
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Banning Dirty Donations) Bill 2020
Senate referred the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Banning Dirty Donations) Bill 2020 for inquiry and report by 16 March 2021.

Finance and Public Administration References Committee
The current capability of the Australian Public Service (APS)
On 1 December 2020, the following matter was referred to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by 31 October 2021.

AAT Bulletin
The AAT Bulletin is a weekly publication containing a list of recent AAT decisions and information relating to appeals against AAT decisions, including immigration and citizenship.
Issue No. 4/2021, 22 February 2021

Commonwealth Integrity Commission: Consultation draft
The Australian government has released an exposure draft of legislation to establish the new Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) and make other consequences legislative amendments. A fact sheet about the key features of the CIC has also been released. The consultation page includes links to the draft legislation and further information about other issues under consideration.

ACMA reminder, NBN consumer experience rules
ACMA has enhanced NBN consumer experience rules to protect Australians during the final phase of the NBN migration. The enhancements have been made to the following rules: Service Continuity StandardService Migration DeterminationConsumer Information StandardComplaints Handling Standard. The enhancements to the Service Continuity Standard and Service Migration Determination will start on 14 December 2020, while most enhancements to the Complaints Handling Standard and Consumer Information Standard will start on 1 April 2021. Read more here.

LSC: Regulation of litigation funding schemes
The Legal Services Council has amended the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 with effect from 22 August 2020 so the prohibitions in s 258(1) and (3) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law do not apply in relation to litigation funding schemes now regulated as managed investment schemes. The new rule will operate for 12 months to allow for consultation. See the Legal Services Council website.

Combatting modern slavery in the financial services industry
The Australian Human Rights Commission and KPMG Australia have launched a new, practical guide to support the financial services sector to respond effectively to these risks, using a human rights-based approach. Financial Services and Modern Slavery: Practical responses to managing risks to people  is a guide to help the sector respond effectively to the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth)  and other global human rights reporting obligations (24 February 2021).

JUDCOM: Sentencing bench book
Recent Updates No 47, February 2021
Intensive correction orders - setting terms of imprisonment has been revised and updated - parity has been revised and updated to include a summary of relevant considerations - guilty plea to be taken into account has been updated - power to reduce penalties for assistance to authorities has been updated - court to take other matters into account (including pre-sentence custody). Read more here.

The IPC is seeking feedback on its resources
The IPC of NSW is seeking feedback from people who have used the resources on its website. Please note the survey is for feedback on publications only and any formal enquiry/complaint should be directed to the IPC using their contact details. See the IPC Privacy Statement here.

NSW Law Society: Applications open for the Access to Justice Innovation Fund
The $1 million fund from the state government supports innovative ideas to improve or enhance access to justice in NSW. Grants of between $50,000 and $250,000 are available for low cost, high impact projects that make a difference for those who need it most. Find out more here.

The New South Wales Bar Association's consolidated guide to COVID-19-related court arrangements has been updated in terms of recent developments, and includes a new practice direction.

Strata statutory review: Consultation now open
The government has commenced a wide-ranging review of the laws affecting strata schemes under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015. Public consultation is now open and will close on  7 March 2021.  Please visit the Have your say - strata statutory review website to access the Strata Discussion Paper and for surveys on management and development issues.

Extension of strata and community lands COVID-19 regulations
Regulations were published on 12 November 2020 which extend the COVID-19 measures as previously provided for strata and community lands to 13 May 2021. The measures include alternative means of holding meetings and execution of documents by an owners corporation or community association. See Community Land Management Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation (No 2) 2020 and Strata Schemes Management Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation (No 2) 2020.

DCJ NSW: Review of the Advocate for Children and Young People Act
The review will determine whether the policy objectives of the Act remain valid and whether the terms of the Act remain appropriate for securing these objectives. The discussion paper is available here. Submissions close on 12 March 2021. Read the review here.

Published - articles, papers, reports

Commonwealth Ombudsman publications

Better practice Complaint Handling guide
This Better Practice Guide is a resource to help your agency ensure it has an effective and customer focused complaint handling system. It will tell you what your agency stands to gain from a good complaint handling system, what a good system looks like and practical steps for handling complaints well. Read the guide here.

Experiences of domestic violence among women with restrictive long-term health conditions: Report for the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability
Statistical Report no. 32. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
Latest Update: 23 February 2021
The risk of domestic violence was even higher among women with intersecting risk factors for domestic violence: Indigenous women, women from non-English-speaking backgrounds, and women under financial stress. Read more here.

Production and distribution of child sexual abuse material by parental figures
Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 616. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
Latest Update: 19 February 2021
Child sexual abuse material is widely available online. Existing research indicates that the parents and parental figures of victims are notably represented in offender populations. Read more here.

Justice James Henry, "effective advocacy by telephone and video-link" (2021)
Presented at the Cairns Judiciary 2020-21 CPD Series, Cairns, 3 February 2021. Read more here.

BOSCAR: An evaluation of the Suspect Target Management Plan (revised)
Steve Yeong; Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 233: 15 February 2021
Recidivism, incarceration, policing, focused deterrence, deterrence, incapacitation, domestic violence. Read more here.


Ruyters v Commissioner of Police  [2021] NSWCATAD 41
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW - administrative review - government Information - information obtained through lawful telecommunications intercepts - identification of decision under review - secrecy provision - whether exception to secrecy provision applies - inconsistency between state and Commonwealth legislation - Tribunal's power to consider a constitutional question - necessity principle - matter can be decided without needing to consider constitutional issue - whether overriding public interest against disclosure - significant weight to be given to secrecy provision.

EPF v Secretary, Department of Communities and Justice  [2021] NSWCATAD 38
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW - reviewability - jurisdiction - whether the decision the subject of review is an administratively reviewable decision by the Tribunal.

Stewart v Mid Coast Council [2021] NSWCATAD 33
GIPA Act - government information - access - the applications relate to decisions made by the Respondent which concern Council staff incorrectly laying down a number of headstones at the Bight Cemetery, Wingham, in July 2019. 

Zonnevylle v Department of Customer Service; Zonnevylle v Secretary, Department of Education [2021] NSWCATAD 35
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW - access to government information - access application - when applications are "actually received" under s 41(3) Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 - ADMINISTRATIVE LAW - access to government information - access application - whether applicant supplied all information reasonably necessary to enable identification of government information applied for under s 41(1)(e) Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.




Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2021
Passed both Houses 25/02/2021. Amends the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to establish a mandatory code of conduct that applies to news media businesses and digital platform corporations when bargaining in relation to news content made available by digital platform services.

Higher Education Support Amendment (Freedom of Speech) Bill 2020
Senate 25/02/2021. Amends the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to insert a new definition of 'academic freedom' and replace references to 'free intellectual inquiry' with the allied concepts of 'freedom of speech' and 'academic freedom'.

Family Law Amendment (A Step Towards a Safer Family Law System) Bill 2020
House of Representatives 22/02/2021. Implements certain recommendations of the 2009 Family Law Council report Improving responses to family violence in the family law system: An advice on the intersection of family violence and family law issues, the 2017 House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs report A better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence, and the 2019 Australian Law Reform Commission report Family Law for the Future - An Inquiry into the Family Law System by amending the Family Law Act 1975 to remove provisions relating to the: presumption of equal shared parental responsibility when making parenting orders; and requirement that the courts consider, in certain circumstances, the child spending equal time, or substantial and significant time with each parent.

Online Safety (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021
House of Representatives 24/02/2021 - Schedule 1 to the Bill repeals the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 because, when passed, the Online Safety Bill will provide for much of the framework currently under the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015, as well as provide additional powers to the Commissioner to keep Australians safe online. Schedule 2 contains consequential amendments to other Acts arising from the enactment of the Online Safety Bill. Schedule 3 contains transitional provisions for matters relating to the Commissioner.

Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments
Electronic Transactions (ECM Courts) Amendment (Personal Injury Commission) Order 2021 (2021-74) - published LW 26 February 2021
Personal Injury Commission Act 2020 - Guidelines for approval as an IRO Approved Lawyer - 26 February 2021 (2021-75) - published LW 26 February 2021
Liquor Amendment (Kings Cross Special Licence Conditions) Regulation 2021 (2021-77) - published LW 26 February 2021
Liquor Amendment (Miscellaneous) Regulation 2021 (2021-61) - published LW 19 February 2021

Bills introduced - non-government - 19 February 2021
Government Sector Finance Amendment (Government Grants) Bill 2021
Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment (Ministerial Code of Conduct - Property Developers) Bill 2021
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Aquatic Animal Recognition) Bill 2021
Public Health Amendment (Vaccination Compensation) Bill 2021

Bills assented to
Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Drink and Drug Driving Offence) Act 2021 No 3 - assented to 24 February 2021
Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Drink and Drug Driving Offence) Bill 2021

Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021 (Vic)
Act Number: 3/2021 Date of assent: 16 February 2021
Includes: (d) to amend the definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010; and (e) to include sex characteristics as a protected attribute under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
Victorian legislation can be accessed here.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.