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ANALYSIS OF PERFORMANCE

Number of reports

The core output of the ALRC comprises consultation papers and reports to government with recommendations for law reform.

The ALRC produced four reports in 2018–19:

  • Annual Report 2017/2018 (September 2018)
  • Review of the Family Law System (Discussion Paper No 86, October 2018)
  • Integrity, Fairness and Efficiency—An Inquiry into Class Action Proceedings and Third-Party Litigation Funders (ALRC Report 134, December 2018)
  • Family Law for the Future—An Inquiry into the Family Law System (ALRC Report 135, March 2019)

Timeliness of reports

The timeliness of reports is an indicator of the effectiveness of the ALRC in meeting the terms of reference for inquiries established by the Attorney-General, which include a reporting date.

During 2018–19 the ALRC delivered the final reports for the Review of the Family Law System and the Inquiry into Class Action Proceedings and Third-Party Litigation Funders in accordance with the reporting date.

Court citations

Past ALRC reports are frequently a source of accurate and informative material on the law that is the subject of each inquiry.

The ALRC has identified 53 mentions of ALRC reports in the judgments of Australian courts and tribunals during 2018–19. This included 4 citations in the High Court of Australia and 17 citations by the Federal Court of Australia. Frequently cited reports include:

  • Evidence (Interim) (ALRC Report 26, 1985), Evidence (ALRC Report 38, 1987) and Uniform Evidence Law (ALRC Report 102, 2006);
  • Grouped Proceedings in the Federal Court (ALRC Report 46, 1988); and
  • General Insolvency Inquiry (ALRC Report 45, 1988).

Encouragingly, both older and newer reports by the ALRC have been considered substantive evidence based reports worthy of citation in the superior courts of Australia.

Mentions in Parliament

The number of mentions of ALRC reports in Parliament provides an indication of Parliament’s engagement with the ALRC’s work and the esteem in which it is held.

The ALRC has identified 21 references to ALRC reports and recommendations in second reading speeches and other Parliamentary proceedings during 2018–19. Examples include references to:

  • Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws—Improving Legal Frameworks (ALRC Report 117, 2012) in the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2018 and the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill 2018; and
  • Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Report 122, 2013) in the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018.

References in academic publications

The work of the ALRC has long been a resource for academics studying law as well as social policy. The ALRC strives for its published reports to be authoritative and accurate. In 2018– 19, the ALRC was cited in at least 253 academic publications, including journal articles, research papers and textbooks.

Frequently cited reports include:

  • Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131, 2017);
  • Family Violence: A National Legal Response (ALRC Report, 2010); and
  • Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws (ALRC Report, 2014).

Submissions

The number of submissions received by the ALRC is a measure of public engagement with its work and the extent to which the consultation papers have stimulated debate and discussion. However, the number of submissions received for any inquiry is also influenced by its subject matter—particular inquiries are likely to generate a greater, broader degree of public interest and participation than others. The public interest in the Review of the Family Law System is reflected in the receipt of 263 submissions in response to the Discussion Paper published in October 2018.

In 2018–19, the ALRC for the first time invited interested persons to comment on the Terms of Reference for inquiries prior to the release of consultation papers. This allowed interested parties to provide early feedback on issues that the ALRC should consider in the course of its inquiry. As this is a new consultative step, it was anticipated that the response rate would be low compared to submissions received in response to consultation papers.

Table 3: Submissions received 2018–19

Consultation paper

Submission closing

date

Submissions received

during reporting period

Inquiry into Class Action Proceedings

and Third-party Litigation Funders

(DP 85)

31 July 2018

103

Review of the Family Law System

(DP 48)

13 November 2018

263

Invitation to comment on Terms

of Reference for Review of the

Framework of Religious Exemptions in

Anti-Discrimination Legislation

10 May 2019

13

Invitation to comment on Terms of

Reference for Review of the Corporate

Criminal Responsibility Regime in

Australia

10 May 2019

14

Total submissions received

393

Image of panel members at seminar

Consultations

For each Inquiry the ALRC seeks to consult with people who have expertise and experience in the laws under review, as well as people likely to be affected by the laws in question. The number of consultations held is one indicator of the breadth of the evidence base that underpins the ALRC’s recommendations and of community engagement with the law reform process implemented by the ALRC. In 2018–19, the ALRC conducted 108 consultations with stakeholders and experts across Australia and overseas.

Table 4: Consultations held 2018–19

Inquiry

Number of consultations held during

reporting period

Class Action Proceedings and Third-Party

Litigation Funders

25

Family Law

43

Corporate Criminal Responsibility Regime

23

Framework of Religious Exemptions in

Anti-Discrimination Legislation

17

Total consultations

108

Presentations, articles and speaking engagements

Presenting at public conferences, seminars, and Parliamentary inquiries, and contributing articles to journals and publications ensures that the work of the ALRC is publicly debated and discussed. In total there were 45 presentations, articles, and speaking engagements by ALRC Commissioners and staff in 2018–19.

Highlights of ALRC presentations and speaking engagements in 2018–19 included:

  • Keynote address by ALRC President, Justice Derrington, at the inaugural Association of Litigation Funders of Australia (ALFA) Class Action and Litigation Funding Conferences in Melbourne and Sydney on 22 and 26 August 2018 respectively.
  • Keynote address by Justice Derrington at the Herbert Smith Freehills’ Annual Corporate Governance Symposium on 16 November 2018.
  • Presentation by Matt Corrigan, General Counsel, at the Commercial Law Association Conference on 8 March 2019.
  • Appearance by Justice Derrington as a panelist on Hugh Riminton’s Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National on 2 June 2019 to outline the ALRC’s Family Law recommendations.

E-news subscribers

The ALRC maintains a general mailing list — the ALRC Brief — to provide regular updates on the ALRC’s work, as well as Inquiry-specific mailing lists. Subscriptions to the E-news reflect sustained engagement with a specific inquiry or the ALRC’s work generally.

ALRC website

The ALRC website is a pivotal communication tool for the ALRC and a law reform resource for the wider public. The ALRC strives to continually build value into the website, both in terms of providing useful and accessible content relevant to stakeholders and researchers, and utilising its functionality as an online consultation tool. The ALRC website has been under redevelopment in 2018–19. The new website is due to go live in September 2019.

Key website metrics from Google Analytics for 2018–19:

  • visits = 1,644,501
  • page views = 2,676,032
  • unique visitors = 1,134,147

These metrics represent, compared to the 2017–18 reporting period:

  • 3% decrease in visits;
  • 4% decrease in page views; and
  • 4% decrease in unique visitors.

 July-June in 2017-18 and 2018-19

The slight drop in web traffic reflects an outdated website that has been replaced. ALRC website statistics indicate that it is not just in implementation that the ALRC makes a significant contribution to the discussion of laws and legal frameworks in Australia.

In 2018–19, the top three reports accessed by PDF downloads were:

  1. Recognition of Aboriginal Customary Laws (ALRC Report 31, 1986)
  1. Essentially Yours: The Protection of Human Genetic Information in Australia (ALRC Report 96, 2003)
  2. Family Law for the Future—An Inquiry into the Family Law System (ALRC Report 135, 2019)

The inclusion in this list of the Recognition of Aboriginal Customary Laws Report from 1986 illustrates the enduring value of the ideas, discussion and research contained in this landmark report.

Twitter followers

The ALRC uses Twitter to provide updates on its Inquiries and publicise opportunities to engage with its work. The number of people following the ALRC’s Twitter account tracks broader engagement with law reform and the subject-matter of ALRC inquiries. On 30 June 2019 the ALRC’s Twitter account had 13,492 followers.