COAT NSW Newsletter
March 2023

In this edition:


Convenor’s message

Welcome to the first COAT NSW newsletter for 2023. My warm thanks to our editors Jason Cabarrús, Marie Johns and Chris Matthies for all their work in putting this newsletter together.

The annual Whitmore Lecture is one of COAT’s signature events. Each year a distinguished member of the legal profession speaks upon a subject touching upon the nature of administrative law. This year we are most fortunate to have Justice Beech-Jones of the Supreme Court of New South Wales speaking on the Constitution and state tribunals. More details about this lecture are below, but this is a topic which affects all tribunals and I commend his Honour’s lecture to all COAT members.

Being a COAT NSW member means that you automatically receive an invitation to this event. If you have not renewed your COAT NSW membership, it can be renewed online through the COAT website. We also set out below details of the 2023 COAT National Conference which will be held in Sydney. That conference will be highlighted by the Federal Attorney General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, another terrific event for your diaries.

We look forward to seeing you at the various COAT events during the course of this year.


Judge Gerard Phillips
COAT Convenor

COAT NSW Membership Renewal

If you haven’t yet renewed your COAT membership for 2023, there is still time to do so and access great benefits like free admission to the Whitmore Lecture, discounted rates on conference registration, and access to training opportunities facilitated by COAT.

You can renew your membership online (or check your membership status if you’ve previously renewed online) here:

Alternatively, if you haven’t renewed online before, you can check your membership status by emailing:

2023 Whitmore lecture – 17 May

The 2023 Whitmore Lecture will be delivered by the Honourable Justice Beech-Jones and titled The Constitution and State Tribunals. The lecture will be held on Wednesday 17 May 2023, at Court 1, Queens Square Law Courts Building, 184 Phillip Street, Sydney NSW 2000. Please join us at 5.00pm for 5.30pm start. Light refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the lecture. The lecture will also be available online. Keep your eye on your inbox for the official invite with RSVP details which will be sent soon.

Justice Beech-Jones was admitted as a barrister in 1992 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2006. As a barrister he practised in the areas of Administrative Law, Commercial Law and regulatory enforcement. He was often briefed for and against Commonwealth government agencies. He regularly appeared in Federal and State tribunals and in judicial review proceedings. His Honour was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 2012 and sat in the Common Law Division.  From 2016 to 2018 he was President of the Judicial Conference of Australia.  On 31 August 2021 he was appointed Chief Judge of the Common Law Division and a Judge of Appeal. He sits at first instance and on appeal and regularly presides in the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal.


2022 COAT NSW Conference report

The 2022 COAT NSW Conference took place on 16 September 2022. We welcomed the opportunity to be able to come together again in person for a full-day of sessions for the first time in 3 years. Taking advantage of all we learnt from offering webinars in the last 2 years, we were pleased to be able to offer colleagues who couldn’t make it to Sydney the option of attending online. Around 145 people participated in the conference with delegates across Australia and New Zealand.


The theme for the 2022 conference was ‘Tribunals: Providing justice for all’. The keynote speaker was Robert Fitzgerald AM (NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner) on the topic of elder abuse and protecting the rights of older people. This was followed by a panel tackling the subject of making tribunals more accessible for older people from the perspective of tribunal members, users of tribunals and an expert psychogeriatrician.


The conference offered delegates a number of sessions focused on tribunal law and practice. Justice Anna Mitchelmore (Supreme Court of NSW and NSW Court of Appeal) provided an overview of issues arising on appeals from tribunal decisions, while a panel offered perspectives on the art of effective questioning, a key skill for tribunal members and registrars. Senior Member Garth Blake AM SC from NCAT spoke on the ethical issues that can arise for decision-makers in tribunals.


Other sessions looked at the changing ways in which we’re undertaking work in tribunals and how to manage the effects of the work on our wellbeing. We heard from workplace experts and tribunal leaders on the impacts for tribunals of more people working more regularly from home and also had a session from Rachel Clements (Director of Psychological Services, Centre for Corporate Health) on vicarious trauma, its symptoms and effects, and how to manage it. For the final session of the day, a panel of tribunal leaders and user representatives talked about experiences during the pandemic of remote hearings and the likely future landscape for how tribunals will conduct their business in a COVID-normal world.


The program was well-received by the attendees and there was a palpable delight on the day at being able to engage with colleagues again in a face-to-face environment.

We’re currently working on the 2023 COAT NSW Conference which is likely to be in late November. Keep an eye out for the date and more details shortly.




Recent changes in tribunal leadership

There have recently been leadership changes in a number of tribunals operating in NSW.


NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal – Presidential appointments

The following Presidential appointments have occurred at the MHRT since last August:
• Magistrate Carolyn Huntsman – President
• Magistrate Michael Antrum – Deputy President (Forensic)
• The Honorable Judge Ann Ainslie-Wallace – Deputy President
• Acting Judge Joanne Keogh – Deputy President
• Acting Judge Garry Still – Deputy President
• Mr Jonathan Hyde – Deputy President


Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal – President

The Hon Justice Fiona Meagher resigned as AAT president in November 2022, and Justice Susan Kenny has been appointed as Acting President. A recruitment process is currently under way to select a President for the AAT who will become the inaugural President of the new review body which the Australian Government has announced will replace the AAT.

If you have announcements from other Tribunals that you’d like to share in a future newsletter, please write to us at:

2023 COAT National Conference – registrations open

This year’s COAT National Conference will be held on Thursday 8 – Friday 9 June 2023 at the Wesley Conference Centre Sydney and online. The theme for the conference is ‘Independence, Integrity and Impartiality in a Changing World’.


While details of the program are still being finalised, speakers already announced include:
• The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC, MP, Australian Attorney General – delivering the opening address about independence in tribunals
• The Hon Anthony Whealy KC, former judge of the NSW Court of Appeal, and Chair of The Centre for Public Integrity – talking about measures to ensure independence and public confidence in tribunals and other public institutions
• Megan Hunter, co-founder of the American High Conflict Institute – presenting an in-person masterclass, Working Effectively with High Conflict People
• The Hon Justice Kerri Mellifont, President of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal – speaking about human rights.


Early registration has already opened, and is set to close on 21 April:




Council of Australasian Tribunals NSW Chapter Inc (COAT NSW)
ABN 85 266 469 622
Ph: 0418 281 116
PO Box 268, Darlinghurst NSW 1300

Copyright © COAT, All rights reserved.

You are receiving this email because you have opted in by contacting, joining COAT NSW (or COAT National) as a member
or registering your interest in our events.
If you wish to continue receiving updates and invitations via email no action is required.
To unsubscribe please click the following link: unsubscribe.