Author: Fortitude Legal Admin

This month marks Tradies National Health Month 2018, an initiative of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, seeking to raise awareness of the health and injury risks that those working in trade occupations face.  According to Safe Work Australia, tradies are over represented when it comes to suffering a serious injury at work.  Tradies make up 30% of the workforce yet 58% of serious claims for worker’s compensation come from tradies which is a worrying statistic. The good news is that if we all work together and take responsibility we can help reduce this statistic.

For a tradie, their tools of trade are their pride and joy, and many will go to great lengths to ensure they are well maintained and in good shape.  But what about a tradie’s health, body and well-being?  Do tradies spend as much time on themselves, ensuring that they are well maintained and in good shape?

As a personal injury law firm specialising in assisting our regional tradies access the treatment they need and the compensation they deserve after sustaining an injury at work, we see all too often that many injuries could have been prevented or the severity of the injury lessened had employers and tradies put health and safety at the forefront of their mind.  The Australian Physiotherapy Association suggests that simple things such as warming up and stretching before starting work and being taught the correct lifting technique can help reduce the incidence of musculo-skeletal and soft tissue injuries.  Employers should ensure that proper risks assessments are undertaken of the duties that tradies are being asked to perform and that injury prevention and management techniques are incorporated into a tradies daily work routine.

If a tradie isn’t feeling 100% then they should be encouraged by their employer and family to contact a health professional and get on top of the injury or condition, instead of just soldering on and putting up with it.  It’s possible that early intervention may mean a quicker recovery and less tools down in the long run.

If employers and tradies take a collaborative approach to health and safety, then hopefully we will start to see the rate of serious injury claims reduce.

Whilst it has been pleasing to see government expenditure leading to an improvement in road infrastructure in our regional communities, it is apparent that there is more to be done.

The statistics demonstrate that you are far more likely to die in a transport accident in regional Victoria than in Melbourne.  In 2017 there were 157 deaths on roads in regional Victoria, compared to 102 in Melbourne.  This statistic is made even more startling when you consider that Melbourne holds approximately three quarters of Victoria’s population.

Whilst one death on our roads is one too many, we need to ensure that there is a continued focus on our roads to reduce the impact of road toll on our regional communities.

We are thrilled to announce that our very own Tom Burgoyne has been shortlisted as a finalist in the category of Regional/Suburban Lawyer of the Year in the Australian legal industry’s most prestigious awards.

The Australian Law Awards recognise the outstanding contribution of Australia’s top lawyers and legal firms.

Having taken home the honours as Regional Lawyer of The Year 2018 at the recent Law Institute of Victoria Awards, it is no surprise to our team that Tom has again been recognised in this way.

At Fortitude Legal we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional legal services to regional Victorians and Tom lives and breathes that philosophy.

Well done Tom! We wish you all the best for the big announcement on 31 August 2018.

We are thrilled to announce that Tom Burgoyne was on Friday night awarded the honour of being named “Regional Lawyer of the Year 2018”, at the Law Institute of Victoria’s 14th Victorian Legal Awards.

The Victorian Legal Awards is the most prestigious legal awards program in Victoria celebrating the “best of the best” and publicly recognising those who demonstrate excellence in legal practice.

Tom, who opens our GEELONG office in June, fought off stiff competition including that of his colleagues, Cameron Cowan, who heads up our Ballarat team, and Fleur Jackson, who will soon open the doors to the Bendigo office of Fortitude Legal.

Tom has handled some of his region’s most significant cases. In doing so, he has highlighted the need for legislative change where he has seen inequity, deficiency or anomaly in the law. Tom’s article “Cyclist Beware” was published in the January/February edition of the Law Institute Journal. Tom sought to put a focus on a “glaring gap in compensation coverage for cyclists…which could be remedied by legislative change”.

In his acceptance speech Tom stated: “I see this Award as reflective of the fact that more broadly as a group there is excellent legal work happening in the regions. We have a lot of pride in being regional practitioners looking after people in our communities”.

We can’t wait to welcome Tom to our team next month!

Congratulations to Cameron Cowan, Tom Burgoyne and Fleur Jackson for being acknowledged as Finalists in the 14th Victorian Legal Awards.

The Victorian Legal Awards is the most prestigious legal awards program in Victoria celebrating the “best of the best” and publicly recognising those who demonstrate excellence in legal practice.

At Fortitude Legal we are thrilled that our very own Cam has been acknowledged in this way and that we will soon be welcoming into our team the also amazing Fleur and Tom.

Fortitude Legal – bringing the best to regional Victoria!

The theme for this year’s international women’s day is gender parity.
Today is a reminder that as a community we need to continue the momentum to aim for gender parity across the globe. This is not just about equal pay and the workplace, but about equal rights across the board.

The Gender – World Economic Forum 2017 Global Gender Gap Report tells us that gender parity is over 200 years away, however women in Australia continue to make significant progress toward equality.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) makes sex discrimination and sexual harassment unlawful across various parts of public life and gives effect to Australia’s human rights obligations.

Whilst women on the Board’s of ASX listed companies have grown from 8.3% in 2009 to 26.2% in 2018, the average full-time weekly wage for a woman is 15.3% less than a man’s. In 2015-2016 average superannuation balances for women aged 60-64 were just over half (58%) those of men. 1 in 2 mothers reported experiencing workplace discrimination as a result of their pregnancy, parental leave or return to work plan and 1 in 5 mothers indicated that they were made redundant, restructured, dismissed or did not have their contract renewed.

And for women in the law, we are not immune. The Australian Bar Association Statistics reported in 2015 that whilst 23.13 % of Australian barristers are women, only 1.52% of senior barristers are women. A 2013-14 study by the Australian National University revealed male barristers report a 184% higher taxable income than their female counterparts.
Whilst we can be proud of what we have achieved, we cannot stop the progress for all women.

Successful litigation is about knowing our clients and their case and most of all, ensuring we always know more than our opponent.
Our best shot at settling your case is to make sure we’re ready to run it. If a lawyer is not ready to run your case – they have no place talking to the opposition.
At Fortitude Legal we work hard for our clients so they can get the results they deserve.

Recent media coverage reported that a Ballarat construction company was convicted and fined $25,000 for “ignoring WorkSafe directions to fix unsafe scaffolding”.
Employers and others responsible for erecting and maintaining scaffolding cannot cut corners on measures that are put in place to protect our workers.
According to the Safe Work Australia 2016 report “Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia”, in the 14 years from 2003 to 2016, 3414 workers in Australia lost their lives in work-related incidents. This is horrendous.

In 2016 alone that number was 182 with 8% being female and 92% being male workers. 14% of the fatalities in 2016, 25 workers, involved falling from height, and the construction industry finds itself in the top three industries for fatalities.

Whilst the fatality rate has trended downwards since 2007, even one fatality is one too many. That’s one father, sister, son or friend, whose loss will trigger a ripple effect throughout their family, friends and the community.

Your employer has a duty to ensure that your workplace is safe. Falls can occur from areas including scaffolding, ladders, through roofs, and from trucks, to name a few.
If you identify a hazard or risk in your workplace make sure you speak up, let your OH & S representative know immediately. Your actions in assisting to keep your workplace safe may save you or your workmates from death or serious injury.

The DOMESTIC ANIMALS ACT 1994 provides various laws and penalties pertaining to dogs and other animals but the ones we thought you might be interested in include:

– Dogs over 3 months old must be registered with the relevant Council and failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to 20 penalty units;
– Council can refuse to register a dog that is not desexed;
– For dogs found at large, an owner can be fined up to 10 penalty units.
– For dogs that are not defined as a “dangerous dog” or “restricted breed dog” and the dog attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 40 penalty units;
– If a dog rushes or chases any person, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 4 penalty units;
– Where the dog is defined as a “dangerous dog” or a “restricted breed dog” and it attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time of attack or biting, whether or not the owner of the dog, can be liable to a term of imprisonment or a fine of up to 120 penalty units;
– There are some defences that apply.

One penalty unit in Victoria as at 1 July 2017 is $158.57.

The Courts are given quite broad powers in dealing with offences under this legislation, including but not limited to:
– The power to seize, take custody of, dispose of or destroy the dog;
– The power to prohibit ownership;
– The power to order that a person pay compensation for any damage caused by the conduct of the dog.

The CRIMES ACT 1958 also provides penalties for owners who fail to control a dangerous, menacing or restricted breed dog that kills a person or places a person in danger of death. Such penalties can be up to 10 years imprisonment.

Local Councils are required to have in place a Domestic Animal Management Plan. The Ballarat Council Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017 provides that:

– in addition to registration. newly registered animals must also be micro-chipped before registration can be accepted.

Furthermore, where the dog is outside the owner’s premises, Ballarat City Council requires that:
– Council identification tags be worn by the dog;
– The owner must carry a litter device; and
– The person in apparent control of the dog must have the dog on a lead unless the dog is in a Designated Off Leash area.

According to Ballarat City Council’s Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017, there were 116 dog attacks investigated in 2016.
Dog attacks can have devastating consequences both from a physical and psychological perspective and can at times cause death.
In addition to the power of the Courts to award compensation under the DOMESTIC ANIMALS ACT 1994 , a dog attack victim may have the right to bring a claim for damages which may include a claim for medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering.
It does not matter whether or not the owner has been prosecuted in relation to the attack.
A dog owner’s home and contents insurance, sometimes provides cover for circumstances such as this, even if the incident occurs off the owner’s premises.
As a dog owner it is your responsibility to ensure that you have control of your dog, whether that be at home, or when out walking.