Mr Terence McKay OAM BJ JP FRVAHJ
Region: City & Northen (Melbourne)
Appointed BJ JP: 2003 / 2001
After a lengthy selection process, at the age of twenty, I became one of (if not) the youngest appointees to the Honorary Probation Officer role in Victoria. It was a time-consuming responsibility, involving interacting with a number of young offenders, an activity I performed for over a decade.
One of the troubled youths I had devoted a lot of attention to rang me some ten years later, solely to inform me of the improvement he had made in all aspects of his life in the intervening period, due to the help I had given him. What a reward and incentive this call proved to be! Perhaps that phone call and realisation above all others made me appreciate how we might never know how beneficial the contact and support we offer others can impact them in the short, medium or long term, with or without our awareness.
It also encouraged me to continue to offer whatever knowledge, skills or abilities I had (or felt I could acquire through further tertiary studies) to people with particular needs in the community, moving forward.
Leaving aside the roles I had performed as a volunteer with the various School and Sporting groups in which my four children participated, some of the more significant roles in which I volunteered and / or served on Committees over the years included:
VOLUNTEERING ROLES INCLUDED
COMMITTEE INVOLVEMENT INCLUDED
Honorary Probation Officer for the then Department of Social Services
A Bicentennial Committee (that lead to the Afton Street bridge being built over the Maribyrnong River
Commissioner for Affidavits and Declarations;
Keep Australia Beautiful Judging Panels;
Justice of the Peace
Maroondah City Council Audit Committee
Industry Award Panels
Community Guardian for the Office of the Public Advocate
Eastnet Industry Group
Grief Counsellor with Griefline Services
The Automotive Industry Training Authority
Funeral Celebrancy with Bereavement Services
The Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices
Domestic Violence Telephone Counsellor with the Mens’ Referral Service
An Independent JP Review Committee (set up in response to High Court ruling re vicious dog, Izzy) for the City of Knox
Basketball Victoria Tribunal Chairman.
I held very demanding top level management roles, both locally and abroad, throughout my career, which spanned the Commonwealth Public Service, a Government Business Enterprise and the world’s largest (Japanese) automotive component manufacturer. Fortunately, I was able to achieve a workable balance between family, work and community, thanks to the understanding and consideration of each.
HONORARY JUSTICE ROLE
Reflecting upon my involvement as an Honorary Justice, the roles, responsibilities and expectations of both groups (i.e., a Bail Justice and Justice of the Peace) have changed markedly since my initial appointment to each.
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
I had been a Commissioner for Affidavits and Declarations until the role was phased out. However, a few years later, I was appointed as a Justice of the Peace, and have continued to perform this role for well over two decades.
Being an active JP is an extremely rewarding task. Users of the service are grateful for the assistance we provide free of charge for to the people we assist on a day-to-day basis, every document we action for them is equally as important as is our service and availability.
On a personal level, my most memorable task in this capacity was my involvement (along with two other longstanding JP’s) on a committee formed to review a local Council decision to euthanise a dangerous dog, in the light of a High Court ruling on the matter.
At the time of my appointment as a Bail Justice, there were 465 accredited BJ’s who collectively conducted around 1600 cases that year. In the years that followed, the workload of Bail Justices increased exponentially in marked contrast to the numbers of Bail Justices. In fact, statistics provided by the Department of Justice (which had taken over responsibility for the Group from the Magistrates Court) revealed that in 2015/2016, there were 12,044 callouts for the then 224 Bail Justices.
In two decades, this group and the Bail Act have been the subject of two Royal Commissions (the first from 2005-2007 & the second in 2017) and a range of significant revisions to the Act. In addition, the Honorary Justices Act was created in 2014, to consolidate and govern the administration of both Bail Justices and Justices of the Peace. Yet for reasons that were never explained, this Act, amongst other changes, removed the immunity Bail Justices had previously enjoyed in exercising their role, a change that only impacted BJ’s, not other Bail Decision Makers.
In retrospect, this unexplained change proved to be the most significant and damaging provision to the standing of Bail Justices and became a factor in almost half the number of active BJ volunteers in 2017 ceasing work in the field.
As to my most memorable recollection of the time I spent ‘on the job,’ it would undoubtedly be the involvement I had with some of the now deceased, prominent Northern Suburbs gang members, involved in what is colloquially known as the “Melbourne’s Gangland Wars.”On the other hand, the most rewarding aspect of the role in my view is the knowledge that whether the victims (including children brought before us on an Interim Application Order) of the accused we deal with are known to them or not, the decisions we make are, all things considered, what we consider, based on our training, experience and judgement, appropriate and just.
ORDER OF AUSTRALIA MEDAL
I was fortunate enough to be nominated and awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Awards of 2022 for having served as a volunteer in a range of community support fields for over 50 years. This was an absolute honour that never enters one’s mind, even as a possibility when working, like other dedicated volunteers, doing what one can to assist those whose lives are often in some form of chaos or need at the time.
There are so many opportunities and deserving organisations that need the assistance of everyday people from all levels of society that no one should feel the community could not use their help in some manner. Sure, the roles and responsibilities we take on can be time consuming and demanding, especially when one has family, work and / or study commitments. It can however be managed where there is a will to succeed and the support of one’s family.