On Thursday 8 August the ANU announced that it would ‘withdraw from delivery of the GDLP [Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice] and the MLP [Master of Legal Practice] programs’ with ‘the subsequent closure of the SLP [School of Legal Practice]’. The university is to discontinue ‘up to 29 … continuing academic staff positions’ and my position is one of those to go. In short, I am to be made redundant and dismissed from the University. My final date at ANU is yet to be negotiated.
It’s been an extraordinary career. I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people. Academics and emergency management practitioners with amazing intellects, passion and commitment to making the world a better and more resilient place. I’ve got to travel the world (largely at someone else’s expense) having been invited to conferences and events in Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and around Australia. My family and I have had the joy of spending 2 sabbaticals in the UK – 9 months at the University of Hull in 2003/2004 and 6 months at Northumbria University, Newcastle in 2017.
Being an academic is a privilege. I’ve got to choose the areas in which I want to work and have been fortunate enough to establish an expertise in, and be recognised as an expert in, the area of emergency management and response law. Having been involved in emergency services since the age of 13 it has been a joy to turn that interest into a career. I’ve worked with members of the fire, ambulance and emergency services across Australia and I’m grateful for the respect they’ve shown me and in return I have tried to honour the work that they do.
As a lawyer that expertise is not something that I could have developed in private practice as there just is not enough work in that area. A legal practitioner becomes an expert in the work that comes in the door, not the work that they necessarily want to choose.
Whether I remain in this field remains to be seen. I retain a practising certificate as a Barrister in the ACT and I have a very small practice giving advice to emergency service providers, both public and private. There may be opportunities to expand that practice and to be available to offer training across the sector. I will continue this blog at least whilst I see what other opportunities arise. My time on the Board of Paramedics Australasia will end in November but I hope to continue to serve on the Board of St John Ambulance Australia (ACT).
This is an early transition to retirement and that is not a bad thing. I’m looking forward to avoiding interminable emails and hopefully finding some work where going home means knocking off. This is not a moment of sadness or anger; the forces of the Universe have come together to end my full-time career and force me to look for new opportunities. Those opportunities will include finding ways, and now time, to step back and give my wife time to focus on the interests that she has put on hold whilst our girls needed her attention, and whilst my career has developed.
There are exciting times ahead.