Sunshine Coast Bar Conference 2023
“Bullying – What is it? Where does it happen? What effects does it have? How to deal with it,” This was the theme of this year’s Sunshine Coast Bar Conference. The local Bar, esteemed members of the Judiciary, and distinguished visitors from across the state came together to make it a truly remarkable event.
This year’s theme cast a spotlight on the often-overlooked shadows of the legal profession. Judge Cash explored whether judicial bullying was ‘the last of the legal bloodsports?’. His since published paper, (link here – Judicial bullying: the last of the legal bloodsports? (sclqld.org.au), offered a remarkable insight into the world of courtroom behaviour, and is an indispensable read for anyone in the field.
The keynote speaker, Stephen Whybrow SC, a leader of the ACT Bar, stirred the audience with his impactful presentation. He eloquently navigated through the complexities of his recent work, including representing Bruce Lehrmann amid allegations by Brittany Higgins. Who is the bullied, and who was the perpetrator? It depends who you ask. Mr Whybrow also courageously shared his own experiences of online attacks, dispelling myths and highlighting the importance of the presumption of innocence, a critical cornerstone of justice.
Judge Michael Byrne KC, Deputy Chief Magistrate Stephen Courtney and Simon Lewis grappled with ethical dilemmas that left attendees pondering. Their presentation led to discussion around the amendment to the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) regarding sexual offending, a crucial and timely topic.
Workplace bullying was explored by the dynamic duo of Melissa Cullen and Angela Tondelstrand. Their captivating insights set the tone for the day.
Colonel Jens-Straight took the stage with a riveting talk, shedding light on the fascinating world of the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force. His narrative added a touch of military precision to the event.
The event took a turn towards the arts as Kate Hanley Corley, a Melbourne comedian who faced a public backlash, shared her heart-rending experience of online bullying. Her story brought an emotional and relatable element to the conference.
In a heart-warming conclusion, John Lee, a dedicated supporter of the Sunshine Coast Bar Association, was recognised for his unwavering commitment by being awarded a well-deserved life membership. His tireless efforts in organising the conference for many years were greatly appreciated.
The Sunshine Coast Bar Conference of 2023 was a riveting, thought-provoking, and heartfelt gathering of minds.