COAT NSW Newsletter
September 2023

In this edition:

    • 2023 COAT NSW AGM

Convenor’s message

Welcome to COAT NSW’s September Newsletter. A lot has been happening and the NSW Conference will soon be upon us on 24 November 2023. The organisers have once again curated a wonderful programme of speakers and topics which will be of direct relevance to members’ tribunal work.  


The annual Whitmore lecture is described below. This year’s Whitmore was very well attended to hear Justice Robert Beech-Jones, shortly to become a Justice of the High Court, present on the federal diversity jurisdiction. The paper is available and it is recommended reading for all.


In June was the COAT NSW AGM, with the office holders recorded below. I do have a special note of thanks from the Committee to outgoing member Theresa Simon from NCAT. Theresa has been a force of nature in COAT and we will miss her infectious enthusiasm and contributions .


Otherwise I commend the newsletter for your attention.

See you all at the NSW Conference in November.


Judge Gerard Phillips
COAT NSW Convenor

2023 COAT NSW Conference – Registrations now open

This year’s COAT NSW Conference will be held on Friday, 24 November 2023 at the Pullman Hotel on Hyde Park in Sydney as well as online. The theme for the conference is ‘Tribunals in Challenging Times: Justice, Equity and Quality’ with high-quality speakers addressing a range of topics relevant to work in tribunals.

Keynote addresses will be delivered by the Hon Michael Daley MP (NSW Attorney General) and the Hon Justice Emilios Kyrou (President, Administrative Appeals Tribunal) on tribunal developments in NSW and at the federal level.

With our society under increasing stress from diverse pressures, including cost of living and housing affordability and security, an area of focus will be how tribunals deal with people experiencing disadvantage. Dr Cassandra Goldie (CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service) is one of our invited speakers. The conference will also feature:
• a panel session involving tribunal and user representatives exploring how tribunals can promote access to justice in this area
• a session presented by experts on communicating effectively with parties with an awareness of the effects of trauma. 

Other practical topics to be explored include:
• cybersecurity: managing information securely in the workplace and at home
• developments and innovations in how tribunals deliver our services, and
• maintaining cognitive health as busy professionals.

We have aimed to keep registration fees as reasonably priced as possible. Discounted fees are available for attendees who register by Friday, 6 October with a further discount for members of the COAT NSW Chapter.

The program is designed to contribute to meeting the compulsory CPD requirements of NSW legal practitioners who work in tribunals, as well as mediators for the National Mediator Accreditation System. Attendees may be eligible to claim a tax deduction for the cost of attending the conference.

More details about the program and invited speakers as well as how to register are available on the conference website:


The COAT NSW AGM was held on 22 June 2023 at 4:30pm via Microsoft Teams.


The committee elected for 2023/2024 is as follows:

Convenor Judge Gerard Phillips, President, NSW Personal Injury Commission
Vice Convenor Christine Fougere, Principal Member, NCAT
Secretary Marie Johns, Division Head, Motor Accidents Division, Personal Injury Commission
Treasurer Katrina Harry PSM, National Registrar, Veterans’ Review Board
Committee Alisa Kelly, Registrar, Mental Health Review Tribunal
Geri Ettinger, Mediator, Personal Injury Commission
Meena Sripathy, Member, Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Christopher Matthies, Chief Legal Officer, Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Jason Cabarrús, Conference Registrar, Administrative Appeals Tribunal

 Secretariat: Kathryn McKenzie, COAT NSW


The Committee wishes to thank outgoing vice convenor Theresa Simon for her contributions to the Committee.

2023 Whitmore Lecture

The Honourable Justice Beech-Jones (Chief Judge at Common Law and Judge of Appeal, Supreme Court of NSW) delivered the 2023 Whitmore lecture, titled The Constitution and State Tribunals, on Wednesday 17 May 2023 in Federal Court Courtroom 18C in the Law Courts Building. We were also joined online by COAT members viewing from across the nation. His Honour brought the topic to life with intellectual clarity and humour. A copy of the lecture is now available on the COAT website here: Whitmore Lectures - Council of Australian Tribunals Inc (

After the event, COAT NSW was delighted to be able to host His Honour for drinks and face to face conversation. 

More recently, we were delighted to hear of His Honour’s appointment to the High Court, and we extend our warmest congratulations to His Honour.

COAT NSW thanks the Federal Court for allowing us to host the event at the Court and facilitating the livestream.

Whitmore Lecture Collage 2023

2023 COAT National Conference report

This year’s 2023 COAT National Conference was held on 8-9 June 2023 at the Wesley Conference Centre in Sydney, in a hybrid format with both in person and online speakers and participants. The theme was Independence, Integrity and Impartiality in a Changing World. The Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, gave the opening address highlighting upcoming reforms to the administrative reform system. This was followed by an engaging session with the Hon Anthony Whealy KC, Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity, in conversation with Professor Monica Attard OAM about independence and public confidence in tribunals and other public institutions.

The afternoon offered up concurrent sessions on a range of diverse topics including:

  • managing procedural issues, where Linda Pearson facilitated a panel with the Hon Justice Janine Pritchard (President, WA State Administrative Tribunal), Bernard McCabe (Deputy President, AAT) and Kay Ransome (Senior Member, NCAT)
  • a presentation from the Hon Justice Kerri Mellifont (President, QCAT) on human rights in the tribunal context, and
  • a session on family accommodation agreements and issues that may arise in tribunal proceedings from Teresa Somes (Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Technology)
  • a thought-provoking presentation by Dr Celia McEwen on Promoting Diversity and Inclusion, and
  • a session featuring Kim Rosser (Principal Member, NCAT) and Janet Robertshawe (Principal Disputes Referee, NZ Disputes Tribunal) sharing their tips for dealing with matters in high-volume jurisdictions.

The second day opened with a highly entertaining and fascinating presentation on Generative AI in Law with Dr Sandra Peter and Professor Kai Reimer from the University of Sydney Business School which provided explanations and insights on artificial intelligence and the potential impacts it will have on the law and tribunals into the future. There were many references to cats and codes and a fun rapport between the speakers! This was followed by a Member Wellbeing session led by Angela Martinovich, providing a timely reminder of the importance of self care in the context of the critical work we all do.

The afternoon offered more concurrent sessions, including:

  • Justice Dina Yehia (Supreme Court of NSW), Lauren Stefanou (Managing Solicitor, NSW Justice Projects, Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT), Christine Fougere (Principal Member, NCAT) and Jennifer Newman (Member, NCAT) took us through the Bugmy Bar Book project from its origins and explored its potential uses in the tribunal context
  • daughter/mother duo Dr Catherine Boland (Clinical Psychologist) and the Hon Jennifer Boland AM presented on trauma information practice in tribunals, providing an overview of complex trauma, its impact for those who experience it, how tribunals can be alive to it, provide appropriate support and endeavour to prevent further traumatisation
  • an excellent, succinct explanation of The Voice referendum proposal by Associate Professor Sean Brennan (Director, Indigenous Legal Issues Project, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW), and
  • a practical session on witness credibility with a presentation by Professor Mark Nolan (Director, Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University) and commentary from Sean Baker (Member, AAT) and Judge Martin Treadwell (Chair, NZ Immigration and Protection Tribunal).

In the final set of concurrent sessions, there was a choice of topics ranging from a comparison of Australian and New Zealand approaches towards bias and predetermination featuring Justice Sarah Derrington AM (Federal Court and former President of the ALRC) and NZ barrister Andrew Butler; a presentation by Padma Raman from ANROWS on the topical issue of coercive control and practical tips from Justice John Griffiths (NSW Court of Appeal) on decision writing.

The conference ended with closing remarks by COAT Chair, Anne Britton (Principal Member, NCAT).

The National Conference was another great success. The hybrid format worked without too many hitches and enabled broader participation, including attendees from interstate and over the Tasman. For those who attended in person, it was a great opportunity to meet face to face and network with new and old colleagues. We look forward to next year’s conference!

Recent changes in tribunal leadership

This section of the Newsletter highlights recent leadership changes in tribunals operating in NSW.


Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal – President

The Hon Justice Emilios Kyrou AO was appointed as President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from 9 June 2023, for a 5 year term that will see His Honour become the inaugural  president of the new administrative review body that the Government has announced will replace the AAT. For more information, see the Attorney-General’s media release:


NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal – Deputy Presidents

The following Presidential appointments have occurred at the MHRT since March this year:

  • Mr Bruce Williams – Deputy President (part-time)
  • Ms Jan Redfern PSM – Deputy President (part-time)

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


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

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