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High Court Appointments I was honoured to represent the Law Society on Monday, 30 January 2017 at the High Court of Australia in Canberra for the swearing-in ceremonies for the Hon Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC and the Hon Justice James Edelman. A strong Western Australian contingent was in attendance at both ceremonies.
Welcome to the first edition of Brief for 2017. In this my first President's report, I would like to identify a few of the matters which the Society will be focused on this year. Before doing so, I wish to pay tribute to my predecessor Elizabeth Needham and express the Society's gratitude for her dedication, hard work and tireless commitment throughout her term. I also wish to thank Jason McLaurin – both for remaining at the helm of Brief for a second year and also for keeping us all engaged in 2016 with his informative (and highly entertaining) editorials.
LAW SOCIETY SUPPORTS INQUIRY INTO INCARCERATION RATE OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS The Law Society welcomed a recent announcement by the Commonwealth Government that it will initiate an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) into the incarceration rate of Indigenous Australians. Members will be aware that the Law Society has consistently advocated for governments to do more to address the appalling over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in our prison system. The announcement of the ALRC inquiry is a welcome development and a crucial step in confronting an issue that frankly shames our nation.
COUNCIL ELECTIONS Voting will soon open to elect the Law Society's Council for 2017. Ballot papers will be transmitted electronically by CorpVote Pty Ltd; an independent company which specialises in the planning, management and delivery of secure, independent ballots and elections for all types of organisations. Eligible members will receive ballot papers, together with instructions on how to vote, on Tuesday, 8 November 2016. Voting closes on Tuesday, 22 November 2016.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING Mental Health Week falls between 8 and 15 October, with 'Act-Belong-Commit' and a focus on suicide prevention as the official theme, so it is appropriate that this issue of Brief focuses on health and wellbeing. Members of the legal profession are more likely than many other professional groups to be affected by the pressures that arise in the workplace or in family life. A significant body of research evidences that legal practitioners and law students are at significant risk of depression, with competitive work cultures and a focus on perfectionism being just some of the contributing factors. Whether our profession attracts people who have a predilection for depression or whether our professional culture is causative is not clear, and I would suggest not important. Either way there are elements of our professional culture that can exacerbate or act as a trigger for depression and our focus needs to be on these concerns.
COUNCIL ELECTIONS Nominations for the Law Society's 2017 Council elections will open on 4 October 2016. The Council elections give members the opportunity to become more deeply involved in the work of the Law Society. The Council sets the strategic direction for the Law Society, ensures good governance and, with the assistance of the Law Society's committees, acts as the voice of the legal profession through submissions and regular dialogue with government and the courts. Nomination forms will be sent electronically with nominations closing on 20 October. I encourage all members to consider nominating for a position on the Council. Further information on the 2017 Council elections will be available in the coming weeks.