Clear and concise decision writing – VCAT.

An illustration of a person writing at their desk

Friday 26th July 2024

Full Day EVENT | 9:00 AM-4:00 PM


Do you aim to deliver clear and concise decisions? Looking to sharpen your reasons?

Expert facilitators will guide you through practical exercises to finesse your decision writing. 

You will learn about:  

  • planning for and understanding your audience  
  • determining the relevance of, and communicating complex and technical information   
  • refining the architecture of writing, including structuring findings and narrative sequence 
  • understanding voice, clear communication, and plain language principles. 

Note: This event is for VCAT members only. 

The steering committee for this event is comprised of:

  • Judge Caitlin English 
  • Deputy President Richard Wilson 
  • Deputy President Ian Proctor 
  • Senior Member Anita Smith
  • Member Alison Glynn
  • Member Susan Whitney


Former Court of Appeal judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria
The Hon Kim Hargrave
The Hon Kim Hargrave was appointed to the Supreme Court as a trial judge in 2005.  He was the principal judge of the commercial court from 2012 until he was appointed to the court of appeal in 2017. He resigned as a judge in  2020. He is a reserve judge and was most recently engaged in that role from February until August 2023.   Kim participated in the College's judgment writing course in 2006. From that time, he developed a keen interest in the structure and style of judgment writing and the practical ways in which the clarity, quality and timeliness of judgments can be improved by adopting a consistent judgment writing structure and various case management techniques. He has been a member of the teaching faculty for various College judgment writing courses over many years. 
Former judge of the Federal Court of Australia
The Hon Professor Peter Gray AM
The Hon Professor Peter Gray AM was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia for 29 years until his retirement in May 2013. Before his appointment as a judge, he practised at the Victorian Bar. During his judicial tenure, he also held office as a judge of the Industrial Relations Court of Australia, President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Deputy President of the Native Title Tribunal, and Aboriginal Land Commissioner. He was awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2014 for significant service to the judiciary through the Federal Court of Australia, to legal education, and as a mentor. Peter's long-term interest in language and communication was enhanced by his experience as an advocate and a judge, and his work with Aboriginal communities sparked a particular Interest In cross-cultural communication, particularly In the legal system. This interest led him to forensic linguistics and to membership of the International Association of Forensic Linguists since 2003. In 2010 he published a chapter dealing with the contribution forensic linguists can make to the legal system in The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics. Peter has held adjunct professorial and teaching positions at the Australian National University, Deakin University, The University of Melbourne and Monash University teaching language and the law, and legal writing post-graduate subjects. His current adjunct appointment is as a professor at Swinburne University of Technology. Peter completed a Master of Applied Linguistics from the University of New England and in 2019, as part of his studies, wrote a dissertation titled ‘The Language of Jury Directions in Criminal Trials in Victoria’.
County Court of Victoria
Judge Caitlin English
Judge Caitlin English was appointed as Judge to the County Court of Victoria 5 April 2022. Judge English brings more than 22 years of judicial experience to the County Court, having served at the Coroners Court since 2014, including as Acting State Coroner, and as a Magistrate in the Melbourne and Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Courts from 2000. As a Magistrate, she regularly sat in the Koori Court and Children's Court. For many years she was member of the Magistrates’ Court’s professional development committee and ADR committee. Her love of learning then saw her become Chair of the Coroners Education Committee as well as the Coroners Court Koori Initiatives Committee. She was also a member of the Magistrates' Court Bench Book Editorial Committee, including as its inaugural editor. She was attracted to the Coroners Court due to her interest in public policy, and the coroners’ jurisdiction represents the interesting intersection of law and public policy. As Deputy State Coroner, she oversaw coronial inquests into a range of important and high-profile matters, including deaths in custody, and as a result of drowning, ingestion of button batteries and medical tourism. Judge English has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a Bachelor of Laws, as well as a Master of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Melbourne. In 1999, she undertook a Churchill Fellowship, reporting on the delivery of pro bono legal services in the United States and England. Prior to her appointment as a magistrate, she was Director of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (now Justice Connect).
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal 
Deputy President Ian Proctor
After working in the Australian Public Service drafting contracts and providing advice, in 1987 Ian became the first lawyer in Victoria acting for involuntary patients under the Mental Health Act 1986 and appearing before the then Guardianship and Administration Board. His first role was with the Mental Health Legal Centre, followed by the then Legal Aid Commission of Victoria. After a time in non-casework roles with Legal Aid and then with the Consumer Credit Legal Service, Ian joined the Victorian Public Service managing legislative reform projects. In 1987, he was appointed project manager to create VCAT (he wrote Attorney-General Wade’s opening speech for VCAT) and then as VCAT's first principal registrar. In 2006, he was appointed as a VCAT member, regularly hearing cases across most VCAT lists. In early 2012, he was appointed senior member and head of VCAT's General List. In 2013, with VCAT lists rationalised, he was appointed Deputy Head, Review & Regulation List. Ian was appointed as a VCAT deputy president and in late 2019, became head of VCAT’s Residential Tenancies List, an ‘interesting place to be’ during the pandemic. In late 2022, Ian became and remains head of VCAT’s Administrative Division (Review and Regulation List and Legal Practice List).
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal 
Deputy President Ian Lulham
Before his appointment as VCAT Deputy President, Ian Lulham practised as a commercial litigation solicitor and mediator, and was a sessional member at VCAT from 1998-2010.   Deputy President Lulham has held positions at VCAT as Head of the Owners Corporations List, Head of the Civil Claims List, and Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution. He is currently Head of the Building and Property List and acting Head of the Civil Division. Throughout his time at VCAT, Deputy President Lulham has participated in a number of VCAT committees and organisational structures, including Professional Development, Online Dispute Resolution and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Dr Don Watson
Over the past fifty years Don Watson’s articles, columns and reviews on politics, history and culture have appeared in most major Australian journals and newspapers. In recent years he has written regularly for The Monthly. For many years he wrote political satire for the legendary Australian television and stage shows starring Max Gillies. His film writing includes The Man Who Sued God (starring Billy Connolly and Judy Davis) and Passion (Barbara Hershey and Richard Roxburgh). For five years he was speechwriter to the Victorian Labor Premier, John Cain. In January 1993 he became Prime Minister Paul Keating’s speechwriter and adviser and remained in the role until the government’s defeat in March 1996. His books include Caledonia Australis and the acclaimed best-sellers Recollections of a Bleeding Heart (2002), Death Sentence (2003), Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words (2004); American Journeys (2008), Bendable Learnings (2010), The Bush (2014), Worst Words (2015), A Single Tree, (2018), The Story of Australia (2021) and The Passion of Private White (2022). A collection of his writings, Watsonia, was published by Black Inc. in 2020. He is also the author of two Quarterly Essays, the second of them, Enemy Within (2016), is on the 2016 US Election. He has won The Age Book of the Year twice, the Independent Booksellers Book of the Year, the National Biography Award, Courier-Mail Book of the Year, Alfred Deakin Essay Prize, Australian Literary Studies Association Book of the Year, a Walkley Award, and the New South Wales Premier’s Award. In 2011 he was awarded the Phillip Hodgins Medal for Australian Literature.