As members were advised via In Brief this morning, the NSW Government has extended the current lockdown in Greater Sydney until the end of September and introduced new rules targeting local government areas of concern, which take effect from 12.01am Monday, 23 August.
Additional measures have also been introduced for regional NSW until 28 August. The Government’s media statement from this morning is available here.
It is clear that lockdown arrangements will be with us for some period of time. As we have over the last year and a half, I am confident that the NSW Bar will continue to successfully respond to the challenges posed by remote appearances with flexibility and resilience.
As advised previously, the Association is in regular contact with Heads of Jurisdiction and Government in order to ensure that court and tribunal arrangements during this challenging time take into account the needs and health and safety of our members.
The Association is committed to ensuring that its members can continue to practise in a safe and effective manner. We recognise the challenges posed by remote practice, and the additional pressures that are placed upon those practitioners who have young children at home, particularly by home schooling obligations.
In this regard I note that various courts have indicated to the Association that consideration will be given to these personal needs in the context of scheduling remote appearances. If members are experiencing difficulties in this regard, they are encouraged to bring those difficulties to our attention so that the Association may raise them with the courts on their behalf. The Association’s Protocol for Remote Hearings, which has been developed for the benefit of members and the courts and has been endorsed by the Chief Justice, states that flexibility is required to accommodate the interest of justice and the needs of those involved, and notes that court participants (including counsel), may be grappling with competing priorities as a result of social distancing restrictions (eg home schooling).
The Bar Association is here to assist members with personal or professional difficulties that they may be experiencing in this challenging period and I note the first 'Safe Place' event, organised by our Wellbeing committee, was very well received and more are planned now fortnightly on Fridays.
As always, barristers who are in need of confidential assistance and support are encouraged to contact BarCare and the Barristers Benevolent Fund is also available for those who may be experiencing financial difficulty.
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