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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 June 2019
24 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 JUNE 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Ancient Greece and Australian criminal justice Greek Australian judge dug into her roots when delivering speech at the ACT Hellenic Australian Lawyer Association’s oration CHRISSA LOUKAS-KARLSSON The ACT Hellenic Australian Lawyers oration is named for Theophilos (Tom) Efkarpidis. Tom was a major figure in the Canberra Community. Tom arrived in Australia in 1962. He began life in Australia working in Greek cafes in NSW, including in Albury, Leeton, Forbes and finally Canberra in 1964. Tom and his brother Anastasio were by this stage creating the groundwork of their business empire at their shop in the new suburb of Curtin. Tom's business achievements stand alongside his inspirational contribution to the Canberra community. Tom served terms as the President of the Greek Community, and played a pivotal role in establishing the Australian Hellenic War Memorial and the Hellenic sub-branch of the RSL. Tom was also known for his philanthropic work. This work is continued by the Theophilos Efkarpidis Foundation. on Tom's passing, Jon Stanhope, the ACT Chief Minister at the time, noted during a speech to the ACT Legislative Assembly that Tom was "known as a generous benefactor, responsible for numerous bequests to universities, schools, hospitals, community organisations and philanthropic initiatives." I pause to reflect that my parents' story is a similar Greek-Australian migrant story. My father was part of the Greek contingent of the United Nations Corps in Korea in the 1950s and made the decision while there to emigrate to Australia rather than the United States. I'm glad he made the right decision. My father arrived in Australia alone and with limited English and commenced working in the outback, laying down train tracks. He saved up enough money to bring my mother to Australia. My mother had wanted to go to high school and university and become a teacher, but those opportunities were denied to her as a girl. It was a burning ambition on the part of my parents, both early feminists in their way, that my sisters and I, born in Australia would receive the education they themselves were denied through the accidents of history and birth. My parents, like Tom, ran a cafe in central Queensland in Rockhampton. I must say, I was not very pleased as a teenager about having to work at my parents' restaurant on school holidays while my friends were at the beach. Nevertheless, as we all know, one must turn disadvantage into advantage. At least it has prepared me for life as a judge. It has prepared me for a life of writing reserve judgements while on leave, and calling it 'holidays' or 'court vacation'. Leaving that aside, it is fitting that I direct this oration towards a topic that combines Tom's passion for Hellenic studies as well as my own particular interest in the criminal law field of the sentencing discretion. Our own Chief Justice Helen Murrell recently reflected on the 'Sisyphean task of sentencing courts'. You will recall that Sisyphus was condemned by Hades to the task of rolling a huge stone up a hill, only to have it roll down again as he had brought it to the summit, repeating this task for eternity, rather it might be observed, like the constant thrill of writing reserved judgements. Her Honour noted that: 'There is little public interest in many aspects of the law, but sentencing endures as a popular topic... The 'hypothetical man on the Clapham omnibus' is rarely concerned with a judge's ruling on jurisdictional error or equitable estoppel. But when it comes to sentencing, everyone has an opinion. Almost always, populist opinion is that judges are too lenient.' CRIMINAL LAW IN ANCIENT GREECE Our modern legal system and its democratic foundations owe much to the classical Athenians. Nonetheless, much distinguishes criminal justice in modern Australia from Ancient Greece. Our system would be virtually unrecognisable to that known by Aristotle and Socrates. In particular, the impassioned and dramatic process of being accused, prosecuted, and sentenced in Ancient Athens is a far cry from the procedurally contained courtrooms over which my colleagues and I now preside. Victims of crime and the community were positioned at the heart of the Athenian The Honourable Chrissa Loukas Karlsson delivered the ACT Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association’s 2018 Theophilos (Tom) Efkarpidis Chapter Oration.
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