[Law Week Hypothetical 2011 - You be the judge #5]
[Continues from part 5]
>> Meshel: … your responsibility in the court, I mean you're protecting the community from perpetrators, potential perpetrators, from the court, because they don't know what's going on, I mean, we all know you've got a massive responsibility, but are you over it? I mean do you get over it?
>> Judge Brendan Butler: Well I think we as judges, magistrates ... we care about the people ...before the court, and I think everyone here would with feel for parents in the situation where they've got a young person who's finding themselves before the court. And... I'd agree with what other speakers have said that we ...we need to be looking at better processes, both ...for how the court can deal, particularly with offenders who are regularly coming back on minor offences,... how the court can deal with those matters because we don't have a process now that ... can bring together the information about the person. The court's considering each matter separately.
>> Meshel: Hmmm... that's my computer idea in his car.
>> Judge Butler: The other thing is that we have to ... assist these people outside the court, so that the community doesn't have a continuing issue and ... you know if, if the stealing goes on or the dangerous driving goes on, well that is an issue for the community. Now the person may not be criminally responsible but there needs to be support for the person that ... that avoids ... that ongoing ... conduct. And we need to look at how that support can be brought about.
And you know if there was better information, the police have a discretion whether or not to charge people. They've got no obligation to automatically put people before the courts, and so if police were ... had available to them better information... for example, information that the person had already been found unfit for trial by the Mental Health Court on a previous occasion, there’s no reason why that person should be before the court at all. If everyone was confident that there are good support processes so that, you know, the newsagent wouldn't be troubled again or other drivers wouldn't be unsafe.
>> Meshel: So, you know, you could get there, you could know what's happened. You could get him 'round to you, and you've got a great service that's tackling the problem, that’s spending the money at the beginning and not at the end, and trying to tackle the understanding that the aeroplane magazine needs to be paid for and that's that simple. Come on guys, get it together, seriously. It's that simple.
Does anyone else have any ideas? Any ideas? After hearing all of that information is anyone sitting on just going oh, God, I know exactly what to do about this. I wish they'd ask.
You do ... you do, John? Go for it John. We’ve only got a very short time, John.
>> John: I'd like just to start here on support, so I'm going to chop around what I had here.
Without support the preparation of meals in the home is a problem. Tasks have to be completed very quickly by our daughter. The weekly shopping causes heartache, nine kilograms of sugar in one month. She’s type two diabetic. One litre of cooking oil in a couple meals was used, makes you feel good. Medication has to be supervised. Occurrences similar to these, medication was... she used to take it with Coca-Cola. She’s diabetic. She changed that to condensed milk.
Okay, so 24-7 support is now approved and we can assume the level of support is adequate. However the quality of training of the daily support worker leaves a lot to be desired. Like all industries they vary greatly in their expertise from excellent to unacceptable. They are generally well-meaning people from the community and they run through a probity check and then allocated to a person with a disability. They receive some form of training from their employer but this does not extend to reshaping their values and expectations they've developed by raising their own children to deal with the level of reasoning and understanding of the person they are employed to support and play such an important role in our daughter's life. Some have yelled at her, others have chased her through town, someone said the practising psychologist is talking rubbish and they did it their way.
She was once excluded from watching evening television in the lounge room with other residents of the group home. No other reason than she had her own television. The result was anger and that TV ended up on the floor. She has suffered physical and verbal abuse from some support workers she will now only accept support from those who demonstrate respect, compassion and dignity.
I think I can leave it there. Thank you.
>> Meshel: Well said John. Excellent work John. You better give him a round (of applause) as well or there'll be dramas in the car. Well done. Thank you so much to you two, as I say.
Thanks to everyone. It’s been a very, it’s been an eye opener as it always is, this event, but you two in particular with your ongoing situation and ...very lucky she is, your daughter, to have the two of you fighting her corner for her. So congratulations to both of you on your excellent parenting. Thank you everybody.
Please welcome Anthony Reilly from Legal Aid ... Where's Ant? There you are, hello sir. Oh no, I'll let you climb out first. Out you come. You’ve got such long legs, you could have jumped that thing. There you go.
>> Mr Anthony Reilly: Thanks Meshel. Meshel runs ... a very vigorous hypothetical, very forensic, and so thanks to all the panel members for answering all the questions and ... taking us all on a really interesting journey. I certainly learnt a lot. And ... as CEO of Legal Aid ...we need to take responsibility in our organisation too for some of the issues that were raised today, but ... we need to do so as part of a bigger system. So I'm looking forward to those discussions with government in the future.
So I'd like to thank the Chief Justice for kicking things off today and for allowing us to use his courtroom. It's the beautiful Banco Court. And Meshel Laurie for running the show ... did a great job this year, just like last year. And to our panel members, the Honourable Dean Wells MP, His Honour Judge Brendan Butler, Kevin Cocks, Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, Dan Toombs, Doctor Jeffrey Chan,... Peter Delibaltas and Professor Susan Hayes.
I'd also like to thank the audience members ... and our 'placed' audience members as they're called: Acting Inspector Michael Mitchell. Thanks for coming today Michael.... Alena Annabelle ... and Joe Briggs from Counsel, thanks Joe. Joe's emerging as ... I think, an intellectual leader in the profession on these issues and it's ...I've really enjoyed learning from Joe in the past few months on these issues. And I'd like to particularly thank John and Colleen for coming today. I learnt a lot from listening to your story and ...so thank you very much. It must have taken a lot.
So I'm, going to close proceedings now. Thanks to every one for coming and ...hope to see you again next year. Legal Aid's going on YouTube, very exciting development and... and this is going to be our first show. So keep an eye out for that one.
Now before I close, I've just got to thank the guys, the whole thing is organised by people who work for Legal Aid. Takes a lot, we have to write a script, get everyone organised, get everything done. So I'd like to thank Mary Burgess, Marnie Stitz and Katherine Gorter in particular. They've done an amazing job. So thank you, thank you again.