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Thursday November 29, 2018

Police powers: hearing today on excessive ‘bail compliance checks’

 PIAC Senior Solicitor, Anna Dawson, Nicolas Kirby, Gabrielle Bashir SC, Arizona Hart.We are in court today challenging police powers to conduct bail compliance checks without a court order.
The case, Dargin & Green v State of NSW, arises from concerns that police have been conducting excessive and invasive bail compliance checks, including late at night and multiple times in a night, without any reason to believe that a person is not complying with their bail conditions.
‘We hope today’s hearing will clarify the powers of NSW Police officers to monitor compliance with bail conditions in NSW, particularly curfews. It will also clarify the powers of police to enter private property,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.
PIAC is representing two Aboriginal clients who were subjected to repeated bail compliance checks at their property by the police in 2014. In a three-month period, the police came to their house on at least 50 occasions between 9pm and 2:15am. One of our clients who lived at the property (and not subject to bail conditions) was heavily pregnant and her two-year-old child was living at the property. On at least six occasions the police visited twice in one night.
‘Our clients have told us that these checks were intrusive, excessive, distressing and very disruptive to family life,’ said Jonathon Hunyor. More…
L-R: PIAC Senior Solicitor, Anna Dawson, Nicolas Kirby, Gabrielle Bashir SC, Arizona Hart.

Report: Utility disconnections hitting struggling families hardest

Electrical plug‘People are choosing between bills and rent, going without heating, cooling and showers to use less energy, and live in fear of their next bill.’ - Craig Memery, Energy + Water Consumers’ Advocacy Program
Our new report on utility disconnections, ‘Close to the Edge’, released last week, has found that cutting people off from electricity, water and gas when they are unable to pay their bills hurts struggling families the most, makes life even tougher for households facing multiple forms of disadvantage and is not an effective way to make people pay their bills in future.
It also found that pay on time ‘discounts’ and hefty re-connection fees just make hardship worse, effectively kicking people when they are down.
In response to these findings, PIAC has published a number of recommendations, including calling for retailers to do more to proactively identify consumers who are struggling and work more closely with them to get them the support they need (eg via hardship programs) to stay connected to essential services when times are tough.
Senate Inquiry Recommends Protection for LGBT Students
Rainbow flag‘It’s time for Parliament to step up and urgently pass legislation to end discrimination by religious schools.’ - PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.
PIAC has welcomed the findings of the Senate Inquiry into Anti-Discrimination Exceptions for Religious Schools, handed down this week.
‘The Committee’s report is another step forward in making schools free from discrimination’, said Jonathon Hunyor. ‘In particular, we welcome the Committee’s recommendation that the Sex Discrimination Act be changed to protect students in religious schools against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.’
Importantly, the Committee adopted PIAC’s recommendation that the changes to the Sex Discrimination Act be kept simple. The Committee did not support changes to the test for indirect discrimination, which formed part of proposed Government amendments that were leaked to the media in October, and were opposed by PIAC, the Human Rights Law Centre and a wide range of anti-discrimination academics and practitioners.
‘However, it is disappointing that the Committee stopped short of recommending changes to ensure LGBTI teachers and other staff are protected from discrimination, calling only for “further consideration” of this issue’. ‘As PIAC argued before the Inquiry, there should be a consistent approach to students and staff that demonstrates a genuine commitment to equality, rather than endorsing discrimination in some areas,’ said Jonathon Hunyor. More…
Photo: Flickr/Torbackhopper
Child protection reforms pass NSW Parliament
‘These changes risk repeating past mistakes with devastating consequences for the children and families involved,’ – Solicitor Brooke Greenwood.
PIAC has been working closely with the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, Aboriginal Child Family and Community Care State Secretariat (AbSec), Jumbunna Institute, CLC NSW and others to raise concerns about NSW child protection and adoption law reforms that will extend the circumstances in which adoption can occur without the consent of parents.
These measures, ultimately passed by NSW Parliament last week, will disproportionately impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are being removed from their families at over ten times the rate of non-Indigenous children.
Highlighting a range of legal concerns, PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor, addressed a rally outside Parliament House, and Solicitor Brooke Greenwood was active in the media. Read Brooke's opinion piece and listen to her interview on 2SER.
We will continue to call for greater consultation and engagement with Aboriginal communities and organisations as the reforms are out into practice.
Thanks Macquarie Bank!
Jonathon Hunyor, Ros Cook and Macquarie Bank staff standing in a groupWe are very grateful to Michael Herring, Lucille Hughes, Michael Woodward and the Macquarie Bank Legal and Governance Team for organising a Wellness Walk and breakfast event that raised about $5000 for PIAC’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS).
Over the past few years, lawyers from Macquarie have been providing pro bono legal advice at regular clinics at the Wayside Chapel Mob Lunch to help to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing homelessness in our community.
‘Macquarie have been a wonderful partner to PIAC and HPLS. Staff-led events like this are an opportunity to celebrate the many volunteers whose work underpins our efforts to end homelessness,’ said HPLS Managing Solicitor Roslyn Cook. 
2019 Social Justice Dinner – save the date
Next year’s Social Justice Dinner will be held on Thursday 7 March 2019 at Doltone House Hyde Park.
We’re delighted to announce that author, broadcaster and journalist Julia Baird will be the keynote speaker and writer/comedian, Craig Reucassel, best known for his work with The Chaser, will be our MC.
For more information contact Ann Sloan at (02) 8898 6500 or asloan@piac.asn.au.
Public Interest Advocacy Centre Ltd
www.piac.asn.au - ABN 77 002 773 524

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