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NSWJA Administration Office: Contact 02 9736 2255;





Dear Members,

1. From Vice President, Director Meryl Kane, Director Strategic Plan and Meeting Practice:

Getting Going Again

For those members living out of Sydney and other metro areas, Covid was not too much of an issue, except that when people like me who live in Sydney visited and were viewed with a level of wariness.  Metro JP desks are getting going again and the urgent calls for a JP service, that were coming into individual JPs have dropped off.  So where are we heading now?  This was the main topic for our Board planning meeting in January. 

As members, what do you want your Association to provide? The current Directors need then to consider whether we can and how do we do that?  A write up of the planning meeting is included in the March Journal, and one of the issues that we are thinking about is equality of service for members; how do we provide support particularly for those members who don’t have a NSWJA Branch hearing their issues and passing responses back?  This newsletter is a method of doing that.  Later this year we plan to ask you in a survey what you want your Association to provide.  It might feel like you get surveys every week, but in fact it was 2017 when we last surveyed members about the Association. 

Personally, I think that education and training is what most want the Association to do for me and I am pleased that the on-line education is back.  Not used to on-line study?  It is not “natural” for many of us, but it does give close to equal opportunity – on-line access being a limitation – regardless of geographic or other limitations.  Been there before?  Yes, the Association has had a couple of preliminary goes at on-line education, but this version of the LMS (Learning Management System) is OURS with assessments oriented to the NSW JP knowledge test, and written with that in mind.  It is also intended as an ongoing learning platform, not a once-off, so use it to make sure you are reminded about the correct way to do things, so you don’t rely on doing what you have done before.  This is even more important if you essentially act alone as a JP, without a partner on a desk who can remind you if a bad habit has become ingrained, as embarrassing as that is!

The Association has insurance to cover public liability for NSWJA activities, and voluntary workers insurance and limited professional indemnity insurance for JPs when acting on NSWJA JP desks.  Are there JPs in your area that can get together to staff a desk rather than operate independently?  Talk with Director, Desk Liaison, Patricia Edwards, for information about how to set up a desk desk.director@nswja.org.au

The Association also does a lot of back-end work looking after members, so individual members do not need to worry about whether they have covered legal issues, or personally have to look for changes in legislation.  Although, if you do discover something, please share with other members - some may have also found it, others not.  We are a mutual support group, and have joined together look after each other.

Visiting Cowra

I had been to Cowra about 10 years ago on business.  At that time, I arrived at about 4pm conducted the business and moved on.  I knew I had missed out on a lot, so this November when we could move about within the state and I had some time, I decided I should visit again.  I arrived mid-afternoon and found my way around the town.  I had looked up the local JPs on the JP register, about 100, but of course a condition of accessing the list is that we can only use it to access JP services.  I had also found from the NSWJA office that few were NSWJA members. 

The next morning I starting looking for JPs.  I chatted with the library staff and left some What is a Justice of the Peace? and Information for Justices of the Peace brochures for display, then called in to the Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre.  They have a JP on staff and I made an appointment to see her later in the day.  The office of the local paper was round the corner, so I called in there to leave some brochures and explain what a JP does. I suggested that this could be useful for an article on community JPs and they sent a photographer to my meeting with Marian at the Community Centre. 

As we know, JPs are usually “quiet achievers” and reluctant to blow their own trumpets, but I was able to discuss that the NSWJA is a mutual support association of JPs, now with an emphasis on education including online.   I did not have time to contact local service associations like Rotary or the CWA, but our Marketing Director has addressed such groups to explain what JPs do, and will share his presentations with members to do similarly.

I called in to the police station and chatted with a very nice officer who said she was a JP and due to sit the knowledge test soon.  We discussed the testing process, and the education and training support available on line from the NSWJA.  Similarly, the local funeral parlour had a JP on staff, and I left brochures and membership information.  Neither the local pharmacy nor the Service NSW office had a JP on staff. I made suggestions for locating JPs.


Sharing the benefits of NSWJA membership is a service we can offer other JPs, fulfilling our vision which includes “to promote, support, protect the status and interests of our members so they can better assist the community with quality JP services.”  By the way, I also had a great visit, walked through the Japanese garden, found the Lachlan Valley Railway museum surprisingly interesting, enjoyed hospitality including local wines, and had a very relaxing few days.

Meryl Kane


2. In November, Mardi Kent, Director Membership and Regional Development went on a road trip.


Mardi’s first stop was Port Macquarie. There she met with Barry Hacker, President, and Julie Burge, Secretary and Desk Coordinator, of the NSWJA Port Macquarie-Hastings branch. At that stage the branch had re-opened a weekly desk at the Panthers Club. They had approached the club to open a second weekly desk. The branch also supports Laurieton and Wauchope.


Barry and Julie advised that due to Covid-19 and the age of many of the branch’s 70 members, they were having difficulties attracting volunteers for the desk rosters.


They both said that they were appreciative of the support provided by Director John Brodie and Director Meryl Kane over the past 12-18 months during the period of restructure to the branch’s Executive, and also for the training offered.


Please email portmacquariehastings@nswja.org.au if you are interested in volunteering to work on a branch desk or if you have other matters to raise with Barry and Julie.


Next stop up the coast was Coffs Harbour where Mardi met with Terry Tweedie, Acting Branch President. Terry has been doing a great job of maintaining the branch until the volunteers can meet and formalise a structure, following the retirement of the previous president. Terry is planning to write to the 36 members to encourage them to continue on as members and also to nominate for positions on a revived branch executive team.


Six of the branch members are running JP desks at Coffs Harbour Beach Plaza, Moonee Beach, and Toormina Gardens. Terry was planning to open a desk at Woolgoolga.


If you want to volunteer to work on a desk, please email coffsharbour@nswja.org.au and connect to Terry and your fellow members.


Coffs Harbour Update: In early 2021, elections were held: Terry Tweedie is now branch President; Cliff Mitchell is Vice President; Mike Blewitt is Publicity Officer; and Vanessa Grace is the branch Secretary, coffsharbour@nswja.org.au


Terry was interviewed by David Tune, Contributing Reporter, for the Coffs Coast News of The Area. Click https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/local-justices-of-the-peace-form-committee-to-improve-services-on-coffs-coast-66870 to read the article and view the photograph of Terry, Cliff and Mike at a local JP community desk.


After Coffs Harbour, Mardi headed west to Armidale on the beautiful New England Tablelands. She met with Northern Tablelands Support Group representatives: Ralph Norris, President; Jenny Post, Secretary; and John Burrell.


The Courthouse JP desk pre-Covid had operated three days per week. The Support Group had 50 JP members in the Armidale area, 8 of whom were active volunteers.

Ralph, John and Jenny spoke about the difficulties they were experiencing with attracting new members. They made the following suggestions to retain and build NSWJA membership:

  • More face-to-face training, mixed with online Zoom training;

  • Run online training sessions which can be accessed and viewed in member’s personal timeframes


If you are interested in volunteering to work on local NSWJA Northern Tablelands JP desks, please email northerntablelands@nswja.org.au. Ralph, Jenny or John will make contact with you.

Mardi Kent


3. In February, Patricia Edwards, Director Desk Liaison, travelled to the NSW Riverina branch.

Patricia met with President, Judy Van Der Vegt, and Secretary, John Beattie. Patricia travelled south to deliver a NSWJA desk kit to the branch for the Wagga Wagga Library.


If you are a local member who is interested in volunteering or offering other assistance, please email riverina@nswja.org.au to make contact with John and Judy.



4. From: Stuart Driver, Director Membership and Regional Development

My Opinion: A Way Forward – A Vision for the Future  

This is my first contribution to this newsletter which is an excellent initiative for our regional members and those in the metropolitan area who are not supported by an active branch. 


Thank you to those who supported me to be a voice for our regional members on the board.  With strong family connections to the Tamworth District, growing up in the Blue Mountains and having lived my entire working life in Western NSW, and as far west as Cobar, I understand the different circumstances that regional JPs face.

I am looking forward to working with my fellow directors and particularly with: Patricia Edwards, Director Desk Liaison, and Pat McDonald, Director Member Support to improve the assistance you receive as NSWJA members and JP volunteers.

Over the next year I plan to work on expanding the reach of our Branch network.  Using this as a platform, we can improve the profile and image of the NSWJA.  In my opinion, if embraced, these reforms will be of benefit to our Metropolitan members also and the Association as a whole. 

I am pleased with the response I have had from the member base to date.

The changes which I plan to work on will make it easier for members in regional areas to reach out to each other for support, and where there is interest, enable members to co-ordinate with each other and our non-member JPs to better provide for our communities with respect to JP services.  This includes increasing the number of our Community Desks to make providing JP services much more co-ordinated within communities and, at the same time, make it easier for members of the public to access the services we offer as JPs.

It is this exact experience that led me to work with the then NSWJA Director Bruce Gibbs and form the desk at Bathurst which has been embraced by the local community.  No longer do residents have to spend hours searching for a JP, especially those who work full time and are unable to access services offered by others during business hours. (The Bathurst desk operates on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings). 


People travel from surrounding towns to Bathurst, especially on Saturday mornings to access the desk. Mudgee, Lithgow and Orange are on my radar along with Cobar/Broken Hill, Griffith, Tamworth and many of our communities in-between and further afield for new branches and community desks.  If anyone would like information or has ideas about these proposed changes please contact me at director.driver@nswja.org.au.  I am here to help.


Dianne McNabb and Lynn Madden both of Bathurst.

On the topic of Bathurst, recently, I had the privilege of presenting two of our JP desk volunteers recognition certificates for their long service to the NSWJA.  Dianne McNabb first became a member in 1985. Lynn Madden has chalked up 10 years.  The NSWJA is grateful to these ladies for their service.

Stuart Driver


5. From Kevin O’Donnell, Director Marketing

Since being re-appointed to the Marketing portfolio following the AGM and Extraordinary Board Meeting in January, I have contacted the two local members for Central Coast to gain face-to-face meetings with them to promote JP services. I have also asked other local JPs to come forward and offer their services to our desks.


All Central Coast community desks reopened effective July last year with support from Council regarding libraries. The Council also moved the courthouse desk to one extra day at the library. Lend Lease gave us full co-operation in re-opening Erina Fair two days a week.


I have reached out to the Local Government department for help in contacting all 128 councils in NSW regarding joining the NSWJA "Affiliate" program to build association membership numbers.  


The NSWJA is now a member of Volunteering NSW with the aim of growing membership for branches and support groups.

Kevin O’Donnell


6. What’s Happening – The NSWJA Journal

Firstly, have you received the NSWJA email advising that the March 2021 Journal is now available? If you missed the email please click https://bit.ly/3q2dv2h to download.  This excellent publication is put together by the Journal Editor, Peter Enderby. If you have stories and/or photographs from your area of New South Wales for the journal, please email journal.editor@nswja.org.au. The next NSWJA Journal is scheduled to be sent in June.



7. From Pat McDonald, Director, Member Support

The main purpose of this portfolio is to engage with NSWJA members who are not registered to a branch – this newsletter is exclusively for you.


I encourage you to write to me and share your JP stories:

  • what’s working? – any good stories for this newsletter?

  • what’s not working? please write and bring us up-to-date. We may be able to assist in some way.


Your views and opinions are very important to the NSWJA and your fellow members, irrespective of where they live in New South Wales.

As previously mentioned, I am also the Secretary for the RydeCity branch and its revival may give your group ideas. The branch held its AGM in February and we are fortunate to have in place now an excellent Executive team.


The new Vice President is an experienced businesswoman in the branch community. She developed a brief marketing plan and has introduced me to:

  • the Community Services team at Ryde City Council. This resulted in the VP and me having an online meeting with the team manager. Outcomes: 1) the NSWJA and the branch details are now on the council’s “where to volunteer” page.  2) The manager has added rydecity@nswja.org.au to the alert list to receive information about council grants and explained in detail the most appropriate grant category for our n-f-p association;

  • the Business Development Manager of a retail bank. The bank has a reputation of supporting community projects and we have connected;

  • the markets held in the branch community. The VP suggested setting up an information desk at the largest Sunday market to attract new members.


The RydeCity branch recently submitted an application for a Federal government grant (we’re still waiting outcome with fingers crossed). If successful, the money will be spent on banners, appropriate furniture for one of the desks, desk satchels, screens for the desks, and a NSWJA branded marquee to be used on information desks.


The VP assisted with the application. She has also suggested contacting the local NSW MP’s office to enquire about funding and grants.


If anyone reading this newsletter has experience in applying for government, council etc. grants please write and tell us your stories. If you need some advice/guidelines about who to approach, again, contact Barbara Anderson, NSWJA Board Associate for Grants. She is very experienced and would be open to contact via grants@nswja.org.au.


My experience is limited, however, I am available to assist and can be contacted at director.mcdonald@nswja.org.au

Pat McDonald



JP Online and the Knowledge Test - don't let your NSW JP appointment expire.

You can check your appointment term expiry date by clicking https://www.jp.nsw.gov.au/Pages/justices-of-the-peace/jp-online.aspx and following the prompts.  The reapplication process requires you to do a 20 question, multiple choice knowledge test, which you can do as many times as you like until you attain a 100% pass mark. This is an “open book” test, based entirely on the current edition of the JP Handbook.  If you do not have a current edition of the JP Handbook, you can view and download a copy online from the NSW Department of Justice website https://www.jp.nsw.gov.au/Pages/justices-of-the-peace/role-of-the-jps.aspx#Handbook 


Should you require clarification about JP procedures, please contact the NSWJA State President, Dr John Brodie, statepresident@nswja.org.au, 0419 801 867.


Please note: One of the reasons for some JPs failing the online knowledge test is that after getting all answers correct they do not click on the Apply button. Please be on the alert!


In Closing:

If you have something to share, please contact Pat McDonald, Director, Member Support, director.mcdonald@nswja.org.au,

0412 089 219



Education and Training: State President Dr John Brodie JP;

Strategic Planning and Meeting Practice: State Vice-President Meryl Kane JP;

State Registrar, Secretary, Public Officer: John Chandler JP; 

Member Support: Pat McDonald JP;

Desk Liaison: Patricia Edwards JP; 

Administration, IT and Communications & Association Treasurer: Gary Wright JP;

Marketing: Kevin O’Donnell JP;

Governance, Policies & Procedures: Michelle Stern JP;  

Membership and Regional Development, Stuart Driver