Association president Joe Alvaro says the 2016 EBE NSW Legal Update Conference was all about connecting teachers with high calibre legal personnel to really take their classroom practice to the next level.
“[Teachers] want to be able to say they went and heard live a Senior Crown Prosecutor or a Public Defender, for example, and were able to ask them questions. It adds real life experience and breadth and depth to their teaching and students really appreciate this,” Alvaro notes.
Delegates certainly appreciated an address given by NSW Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.
“She has a high profile as she has brought the weight of justice down on some of the nation’s most notorious criminals, including paedophile Robert ‘Dolly’ Dunn, gang rape ringleader Bilail Skaf, the ‘Butcher of Bega’ Graeme Reeves and Paul Peters – dubbed ‘the Collar Bomber’.
“Cases are critical when teaching law to our students, so to be able to interact with someone who is in court everyday with first-hand experience of criminal law cases, is something that teachers cannot get from a textbook,” Alvaro says.
Hinged around a probing question – to what extent does the legal system achieve justice for victims, offenders and society? – the day challenged participants to consider the tension between community interests and individual rights.
Famed for his sharp legal mind, multiple award-winning keynote speaker Mark Tedeschi AM QC also gave educators an engrossing insight into his new book Murder at Myall Creek – The trial that defined a nation.
“He took us back to 1838 … the trial created an enormous amount of controversy because it was almost unknown for Europeans to be charged with the murder of Aborigines,” Alvaro recalls.
The president notes that keeping abreast of changes to Australia’s legal system is imperative for teachers of legal studies.
“So my presentation was about presenting some cases, legislation and media reports that our time poor teachers may have missed recently and linking them to the NSW Legal Studies and NSW Commerce syllabuses.”