COAT NSW Newsletter
September 2022

In this edition:

    • 2022 COAT NSW AGM

Convenor’s message

Since our last newsletter, the COAT NSW AGM was held and below you can see the new office holders. Long time convenor Anina Johnson has now stood down and on behalf of COAT and all of its members, I offer a huge vote of thanks to Anina for all of her hard work, drive and passion for COAT over the years. The organisation is in good shape in no small way due to her efforts and we wish her all the best in her new role as Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

In this edition, we discuss the 2022 Whitmore Lecture delivered by Professor Megan Davis. It was great to once again meet in person and to hear Professor Davis talk about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the proposed Voice to Parliament. Professor Davis’s lecture was both insightful and stimulating and maintains the tradition of the Whitmore Lecture as one of COAT’s major annual functions.

This leads me to COAT NSW other major function, the conference. The conference will take place at the Pullman Hotel in College Street Sydney on Friday 16 September 2022. Not only are we pleased to be holding this conference in person, but we have an exciting conference program which caters for virtually all aspects of tribunal practice. If you haven’t registered, there are still spots available. As our community begins to open up from the worst of the pandemic times, it would be great to re-establish in-person contacts with each other at the conference.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Pullman Hotel on 16 September next.

Judge Gerard Phillips
COAT Convenor

2022 COAT NSW Conference  
2022 COAT NSW Conference

This year’s COAT NSW Conference will be held on Friday, 16 September 2022, with the theme Tribunals: providing justice for all.

We are delighted to be holding the conference face-to-face at the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park. We are also offering an online attendance option for those who are unable to make it in person, following our successful online conferences in 2020 and 2021.

The conference will involve a range of topics designed to enhance knowledge and skills relevant to work in tribunals. With our ageing population, an area of focus will be the accessibility of tribunals for older people. The NSW Commissioner for Ageing and Disability Robert Fitzgerald will be our guest together with a panel of experts to discuss issues affecting this group. The program also includes the Hon Justice Anna Mitchelmore of the NSW Court of Appeal as well as a number of other eminent speakers exploring topics such as:
• the art of effective questioning
• tribunals in a COVID-normal world: future direction for in-person and remote hearings and ADR
• the changing workplace: hybrid working practices and their impacts for tribunals.

The program has been designed taking into account the continuing legal education requirements in NSW and remember that you may be eligible to claim a tax deduction for the cost of attending the conference.

For more information and to register, visit the conference website: We look forward to seeing you at the conference!


The COAT NSW AGM was held on 2 June 2022 at 4:30pm via Microsoft Teams.

The committee elected for 2022/2023 is as follows:
Convenor: Judge Gerard Phillips, President, NSW Personal Injury Commission
Vice Convenor: Theresa Simon, Principal Member, NCAT
Secretary: Marie Johns, Division Head, Motor Accidents Division, Personal Injury Commission
Treasurer: Katrina Harry PSM, National Registrar, Veterans’ Review Board

Alisa Kelly, Registrar, Mental Health Review Tribunal
Geri Ettinger, Mediator, Workers Compensation 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 acknowledge the amazing contributions made by Anina Johnson in her time as Convenor of the COAT NSW Chapter. We wish her well in her new role outside the Tribunals space. We also wish to acknowledge the wonderful contributions of our outgoing Secretary, Elizabeth Connolly, and wish her well in her retirement.

2022 Whitmore Lecture

Professor Megan Davis delivered the 2022 Whitmore Lecture, titled The Uluru Statement from the Heart – the next step for Australian Democracy, on Wednesday 18 May 2022. Professor Davis delivered the lecture in Court Room 1 of the Federal Court building and we were also joined online by COAT members viewing from across the nation.  

Professor Davis discussed the way in which the Uluru Statement from the Heart offers another opportunity to transform Australian ideas of law and democracy. The lecture took us through the history behind the Uluru Statement and explained fundamental aspects including the law reform agenda, deliberative dialogue process, and the concept of a ‘voice to parliament’ which has become increasingly topical in recent months.

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

Whitmore Lecture Collage

2022 COAT National Conference

This year’s 2022 COAT National Conference ran across two days from 9am to 1.30pm.  The Conference was hosted online with a theme of Reset and reinvigorate, and it featured an impressive array of national and international speakers.

On the first day of the conference, Dr Norman Swan led a discussion on lessons from the pandemic with a panel featuring the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s President Justice Michelle Quigley, Jade Madden of the Queensland Mental Health Review Tribunal, Dr Andrew Dallas of the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority and Carl Crafar of the New Zealand Ministry of Justice. Professor Gabrielle Appleby of UNSW, in discussion with Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal President Malcolm Schyvens, took us through some of her recent research and findings around institutional misconduct and how it applied in a tribunal setting, including design principles around complaints handling functions.

Franca Petrone of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ran a workshop on questioning skills,  Professor Tom Tyler of Yale University spoke on the topic of procedural justice and why process matters, and the Hon Duncan Kerr (formerly of the AAT and Federal Court) delivered a paper on choice and constraints in reading statutes. The Presidents of the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Victorian Mental Health Tribunal, Judge Judy Hughes and Matthew Carroll, shared their experiences with using surveys to engage with tribunal users and assess and evaluate their perceptions of tribunals. 

Day two opened with a plenary session on building a practice of culturally safe an accessible justice, opened by Chief Judge Heemi Taumaunu of the New Zealand District Court and featuring a panel discussion led by Damien Carrick of ABC’s Law Report, with Jennifer Newman of New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Janet Robertshawe of the New Zealand Disputes Tribunal and Michelle Gardner of NCAT, VCAT and the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal. This was followed by a number of concurrent sessions, including a presentation by Justice Applegarth of the Queensland Supreme Court; a session with Noula Diamantopoulos on the benefits of creativity for well-being, inviting attendees to get into their own creative flow; and a colloquy on truth in witness evidence featuring NCAT Deputy President the Hon Jennifer Boland, Dr Adam Martin, Franca Petrone and Damien Carrick.

After lunch, in further concurrent sessions, barrister Rob Bhalla spoke on balancing justice and efficiency in ensuring procedural fairness, Mark Doepel of Sparke Helmore Lawyers stimulated our thinking with a series of anecdotes exploring whether ethics are constant or dependent on context, and Megan Hunter shared her insights on working effectively with high conflict people.

The conference finished up with another plenary session in which COAT Chair Anne Britton interviewed Graeme Neate, President of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, about his reflections on changing tribunal life, with Graeme sharing his wealth of knowledge and some key lessons learned from his many years leading tribunals.

The National Conference was a great success and we look forward to next year’s!

Recent changes in tribunal leadership

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

Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal – President and Registrar

The Hon Justice Fiona Meagher was appointed as President of the AAT for a 7-year term, commencing in April 2022. Michael Hawkins AM was appointed as the Registrar of the AAT for a 5-year term which also commenced in April 2022.

These roles were formerly filled by the Hon Justice David Thomas (from 2017 to 2022) and Sian Leathem (from 2015 to 2022) respectively, both of whom resigned from the AAT earlier in 2022.

NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal – President and Deputy President

His Honour Judge Paul Lakatos SC, President of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal from 2019 to 2022, has been appointed as a Commissioner of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. Anina Johnson full-time Deputy President of the MHRT from 2012 to 2022, was appointed as Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission. Magistrate Michael Antrum has been appointed as the new full time Deputy President, Forensic, and Her Honour Judge Ann Ainslie-Wallace has also been appointed as a part time Deputy President.

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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