John Hennessy Legal Scholarship Recipient announced
The Law Society of NSW congratulates Callum Hair, a solicitor in the Mental Health Advocacy Service at Legal Aid NSW, who has been awarded the 2021 John Hennessy Legal Scholarship.
Established by the Law Society’s Government Solicitors Committee in honour of the late John Hennessy, the legal scholarship is awarded to a NSW public sector solicitor interested in undertaking a research project into legal systems in another jurisdiction or undertaking further study.
It honours the late John Hennessy, who combined the highest professional standards as a solicitor with long and dedicated service to the public. It is his legacy, and his family’s continuation of it, which has made the scholarship possible.
In his current role, Callum provides legal advice and assistance about Mental Health law, and regularly represents people with a disability appearing before the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT), NCAT and the Supreme Court of NSW.
Callum recently completed a Master of Laws by course work at the University of Sydney, where he had a particular focus on International Human Rights Law.
Callum has chosen to conduct original research into “what a specialist detention option might look like for forensic patients with cognitive impairments, including intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries”.
The largest component of his current work has been acting for forensic patients before the MHRT and Supreme Court, which includes the cohort of persons he hopes will benefit from his research.
In accepting the scholarship, Callum said he was looking forward to undertaking his research project and thanked the Law Society for the opportunity.
“I hope to be able to use what I learn to better inform advocacy around the establishment of a specialist therapeutic facility in NSW for persons who have been found to be unfit to be tried as a result of cognitive impairment and who are serving a limiting term,” Callum said.
As part of his research project, Callum hopes to visit specialist disability facilities that have been established in New Zealand and other Australian states.
“The establishment of such a facility in NSW would help in bringing Australia into line with its obligations under the Convention of Human Rights for Persons with a Disability and would enhance the ability of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and the courts, in giving effect to the objects of the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act,” he said.