As the State Government has been announcing plans to move from lockdown, it is timely to consider the issue of access to premises and services as vaccination rates increase.
The New South Wales Bar Association’s primary concern throughout the pandemic has been the health and welfare of its members.
Members would be aware that the Courts are already putting plans in place for a more general return to in person hearings as vaccination rates increase and restrictions ease. The District Court, for example, has today issued an announcement regarding the resumption of jury trials in certain metropolitan and regional courts across the State.
We are all keen to get back into courts and to do so safely. As we move towards re-entering courtrooms in person, many locations may have rules and guidelines around vaccination. The Association encourages members who have not already done so to get vaccinated to ensure a smooth return to the courtroom and hearings in person as soon as possible.
Requiring COVID-19 vaccination for floor members, staff and visitors is a matter for each chambers, who should take their own advice and explore options for dealing with this issue. We understand that many chambers are considering options in relation to unvaccinated attendees such as remote attendance at conferences. These kinds of measures can assist in making our workplaces as safe as possible, particularly in light of the approaching relaxation of restrictions on movement that the Government has foreshadowed.
As I have indicated previously, the Association is in ongoing discussions with Heads of Jurisdictions regarding the return to in person hearings to ensure that this can be done in as safe a manner as possible and while ensuring access to justice for all.
We will continue to keep members informed of developments in this regard.
As the long weekend approaches, I encourage members to take some time to refresh and recharge away from the pressures of practice. As always members experiencing personal difficulties are encouraged to contact BarCare for confidential assistance, and the Benevolent Fund is available for those that may be experiencing financial hardship.
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