Monday, 18 May 2015

Catholic Church Continuing To Utilise the Ellis Defence

Catholic Church lawyers have apparently decided that the Church should still use the Ellis defence. The Ellis defence is based on a 2007 NSW Court of Appeal decision.  This decision found that the Church could not be sued for compensation as it does not constitute a legal entity.This was always a scurrilous argument intended to save the Catholic Church money regardless of the damage to its reputation.

Sunday, 10 May 2015


Uber is basically an unregulated system of cheap transport that is  dangerous for women.  The drivers, whilst having Police Checks, are untrained and it appears unsupervised.  A young woman was sexually assaulted in Sydney a couple of weeks ago by an Uber driver and it was difficult for her to find anyone at Uber who would take any action.

With reputably taxi companies you know that the taxi drivers are trained and licenced.  They have their picture in the cab and there are cameras.  Whilst assaults may occur occasionally you are able to take the number and not only report to the Police but report to the taxi company and the Taxi Directorate.  Hailing cabs in the street is not a good idea if you are alone and have been drinking as there is no record of the trip.  If you ring a taxi company there is a record of the trip and they will know who the driver is.  The driver does not have your telephone number although they will have your home address if they drive you home.  With Uber the driver will have your telephone number as well as your address.

An interesting twist to this occurred when I caught a taxi last week and was told by the taxi driver that he thought he had missed his previous fare as an unmarked car, which he thought was an Uber car, pulled up alongside the women hailing the taxi. She talked to the driver of the car for a few minutes and then walked back to the taxi. The taxi driver asked her if it was an Uber car and she said that it was just a man who stopped and asked her if she wanted a lift into town for $10.  She said she stopped and spoke to him because she thought it was an Uber car.

This is a particularly dangerous development if anyone can pull over and offer a lift and women are stopping to talk because they are becoming used to unmarked cars.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Archbishop Philip Wilson

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has become the world's most senior Catholic clergyman to be charged with concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest.  Whether he turns out to be guilty or innocent it will be heartening for victims to see senior people in the Catholic bureaucracy being called to account for what clearly, in many cases, has been a failure of their duty of care.  The general lack of accountability of the Catholic Church over a number of years has been extremely difficult for victims leaving them feeling that they do not have a chance against a large, powerful institution.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sexism Amongst Surgeons

Dr Gabrielle McMullin is to be commended to bringing the debate about sexism in the surgical profession into the open.  I do not agree with her advice to young surgical trainees that reporting sexual harassment or sexual assault should be avoided as it may ruin their career  but have found the discussion over the past two days to be a good start at breaking the silence.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Rabbi Yosef Feldman

Rabbi Feldman was a witness at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse this week.  During his testimony he suggested that paedophiles who had repented and not committed a crime for many years should not be punished.  He also said that he had been making this view public for many years.  "There should be a lot more leniency on people who have shown they haven't offended, in the last decades.  Especially if they have these tendencies and don't act on them."

It is extraordinary that sexually assaulting a child, which can for some children have lifelong effects, is regarded as a crime you can repent from and thus be forgiven.  It is hard to imagine Rabbi Feldman feeling the same compassion for Nazis who were involved in the Holocaust and now believe what they did was wrong. Would he think they should not be punished when found in their old age?  Some crimes should not have a time limit on when you can be prosecuted.  It is a statement about how society views them.