Current News

State Government liability for failure to prevent child abuse

In this case, the High Court granted special leave to appeal from the decision in DC v State of New South Wales [2016] NSWCA 198 (summarised in the November 2016 edition of the Case Law Update), in which the State of New South Wales (the State) was held liable for the failure of the Department of Youth and Community Services (the Department) to prevent the continuing sexual abuse of two children who were the subject of child protection proceedings in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Williams Group Australia Pty Ltd v Crocker [2016] NSWCA 265

Electronic signature technologies are increasingly used to execute documents used in commercial transactions. In this case, the New South Wales Court of Appeal held that a genuine electronic signature affixed to a personal guarantee by an unauthorised (and unknown) individual was ineffective to bind the apparent signatory. The implications of this case may appear concerning because it could be difficult for clients to determine whether a genuine electronic signature was affixed properly (binding) or improperly (non-binding). However, it should be noted that the case concerned a personal guarantee, not a document executed by an individual in their capacity as an officer of a company. Nevertheless, the case stands as a salient reminder to ensure that clients are aware of the nature of the parties with whom they are dealing. More specifically, to ensure that personal guarantees are properly executed by, or with the full knowledge of, the putative signatory.

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Hinton v Alpha Westmead Private Hospital [2016] FCAFC 107

This case concerned an appeal heard by the Full Court of the Federal Court of a decision by the primary judge in the Federal Circuit Court to dismiss an application for associated discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) as an abuse of process on the basis that the Appellant had no reasonable prospect of success.

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Managing Contested Bequests

It is not uncommon for patients and community members to leave bequests to health services, community health organisations and research institutes. In many cases, the family of the deceased will be supportive of their relative’s wishes to leave money to the service. However, in some instances, family members will object to the bequest being made and will make a claim against the executor, or even against the beneficiary health service.

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Health Privacy in a Big Data World

The consultation draft of the ‘Guide to Big Data and the Australian Privacy Principles’ was released by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in May. The consultation period closed in July and we can expect a finalised Guide in the coming months. It is therefore timely to consider some of the key concepts in the big data and privacy conversation and how they apply to health services.

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Associations Incorporation Amendment Bill 2016 (Tas)

The Associations Incorporation Amendment Act 2016 (Tas) passed its third reading in the Upper House on 2 June 2016. The Act amends the Associations Incorporation Act 1964 (Tas) and commences on 1 October 2016. The main objective of the Act is to reduce the regulatory burden on Tasmanian incorporated associations who are also registered under the Commonwealth’s Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission.

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Hospital and Health Boards (Safe Nurse-to-Patient and Midwife-to-Patient Ratios) Amendment Bill 2015 (QLD)

The Hospital and Health Boards (Safe Nurse-to-Patient and Midwife-to-Patient Ratios) Amendment Act 2016 (Qld) and the Hospital and Health Boards Amendment Regulation (No.2) 2016 (Qld) both commenced on 1 July 2016. The main objective of the amending Act and Regulations is to provide for safer patient care in hospitals by guaranteeing minimum nurse-to-patient ratios and midwife-to-patient ratios for public sector health services. Along with the improved patient safety and quality of care, minimum ratios also ensure safer workloads for the nursing and midwifery staff, providing greater workforce sustainability and staff satisfaction.

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Rooming House Operators Bill 2015 (Vic)

The Rooming House Operators Act 2016 (Vic) commenced on 1 July 2016. With a view to improving the operation of rooming houses, and to protect the rights of rooming house residents, the Act establishes a new licensing scheme for rooming house operators, whereby only ‘fit and proper persons’ are permitted to operate rooming houses. Prior to the commencement of the Act, there was no legislation in Victoria regulating who could and could not operate a rooming house. The Act changes this by requiring individuals or eligible corporate entities to apply for and be granted a licence in order to operate a rooming house (as well as to meet existing legal requirements).

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