Public Law – Issue Four

In this edition of our newsletter for the public sector, you’ll find an interview with Stefan Grun of VicHealth, an update on our social housing initiative and a great recipe for Easter, among other interesting articles.

If you have any comments on what you would like to see in Public Law or any questions on what is featured, please let us know.

The power of friendship

It is hard to believe that the Easter break is upon us and four months have passed since I was writing to you from the sunny banks of the Murray River, for the summer edition of Public Law.

I have been mindful of the impending deadline for this edition, and asked myself what have I learnt these past few months that I can share with you?

I keep coming back to the enduring power of friendship. In society today we value romantic love and familial love, for good reason. But what of friendship? Too seldom do we celebrate the priceless treasure that is true friendship.

In the past few months, I have witnessed the grief of a dear friend who said goodbye to her best friend of 40 years, and of my brother-in-law who said goodbye to his best friend of 25 years and the godfather of his daughter, my niece. Their sorrow is profound. I wonder if we realise what our friendship means to others? And stop to appreciate what their friendship means to us?

And friendship can take many forms. My beloved retired horse, who taught me how to ride and who opened the door to the equine world for me, passed away last week. The gratitude I feel for that horse, and the wonderful life in the country that he led me to, is immeasurable.

This Easter break, let us celebrate with our friends (two or four legged) what we mean to each other, and savour the joy that lies in our connection to one another.

Kathryn Howard Partner, Head of Hall & Wilcox Public Sector group and Editor of the Public Law newsletter.

Zoe Keith’s Blackened Cod with Turmeric Cauliflower and Kale Rice

My general approach to cooking is to experiment in the kitchen and create meals that are quick, nutritious and delicious.

In keeping with Easter tradition, this Good Friday I’ll be cooking one of my favourite fish dishes - Blackened Cod with Kale and Cauliflower Rice. Simple, light and fresh, this dish is a great way to reduce carbohydrate intake over the Easter break. It also tastes great.


  • 600 grams of Australian Cod (or your favourite meaty white fish)
  • 4 tablespoons of Moroccan seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3/4 head of cauliflower
  • 2 cups of roughly chopped kale
  • 1 finely diced brown onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of brown mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of finely grated fresh turmeric (or 1 teaspoon if using powdered)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 80 grams of butter


Grate the cauliflower or pulse it in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice, and set aside.

Dust both sides of the cod in Moroccan seasoning.

Heat half the olive oil in a medium-hot pan and add the onion, garlic, mustard seeds and turmeric. Cook until the onion is translucent and the seeds are starting to pop.

Add the cauliflower and stir through.

In a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil to medium heat and put in the cod, cooking for 5 minutes on each side (only turning once).

Meanwhile, when the cauliflower is almost cooked stir through the kale, put on a lid and remove from the heat.

Set aside the cod after 10 minutes, deglaze the pan with lemon juice, and add butter.

Pile each plate with a good amount of “rice”, place fish on top and drizzle with sauce. Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon.

(Serves 4)

Meet Fay Calderone

This month, we introduce Fay Calderone, a partner who works in our Sydney and Parramatta offices.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Jonah’s at Whale Beach. I love the banana, pecan and ricotta pancakes I had on a recent visit. I’m a carbs and coffee girl.

What are you reading?

I have a list I’m always trying to get through, the top of which is Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales.

What’s your perfect Saturday morning?

Breakfast and a walk down the river with my kids and our dog.

Have you got any hidden talents?

Greek dancing. I wouldn’t say I’m talented but I love it!

What are three things you’d take on a desert island?

Coffee, bread and cheese.

Your all-time favourite movie?

A Few Good Men has some of my favourite one-liners and court scenes of all time.

Holiday of choice

A cultural tour in a great city, subject to the availability of good coffee and food.

Your career highlight

The past year at Hall & Wilcox has been my team’s most successful ever and is quite symbolic in my 20th year in law. Most recently, having my success as a practitioner recognised on a panel before several members of the Bar, judiciary, the NSW Attorney-General and Australian Human Rights Commission President, who told me I should hold my head up and be proud when my bio was read out.


VIP luncheon: empowering women in the VCP List

With the Government’s focus on infrastructure, the time has never been better to be a specialist advisor in the Valuation, Compensation and Planning List. Why then do we see relatively few female expert witnesses in the Supreme Court and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal?

We are holding a roundtable discussion over lunch about what is expected of experts and how best we can empower, encourage and assist women to meet those expectations. We will discuss hot topics such as the role of gender in choice of expert, the role of perception and the function of cross-examination.

The event is on 31 May from 12.15pm - 1.45pm at Melbourne office. If you would like to attend, please contact Jacob Lewis, Events Co-ordinator, on 03 9603 3612 or email.

Werribee city centre redevelopment

We have worked with Wyndham City Council since 2015 on its project to redevelop the city centre of Werribee, a thriving and fast-growing suburb in outer western Melbourne. It is the largest development project undertaken by the council and will deliver two commercial buildings and two residential apartment buildings, 3000 square metres of council space, and a new public library and learning centre. Collectively, the projects will boost Wyndham’s economy by $465 million and will be completed by 2021.

Our team, led by partner John O’Kane, was engaged from project inception in 2015 and we’ve assisted Council to navigate through the project’s lifestyle. It has been a complex project with multiple stakeholders. We will continue to work with Council as the project progresses into construction and completion phase.

IPAA Awards

We were proud to sponsor the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Advancing Aboriginal Self-Determination award, which reflects our commitment to supporting the indigenous community. We believe in fostering an inclusive culture that seeks to enrich our society, and we are pleased to promote and celebrate the achievements of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A client’s perspective

We work with many fascinating people within the public sector industry. This month, we chat with Stefan Grun, Executive Manager – Marketing & Communications, VicHealth, about his role, the This Girl Can campaign to get more women active and VicHealth’s priorities in 2019.

My career snapshot

I started out at Mercedes-Benz and Sensis, back when Yellow Pages and White Pages were essential products and household brands. This gave me a great grounding in the fundamentals of marketing and communication. I got my first experience in statutory authorities in SA, which showed me the power of adding creativity into traditional public sector functions to help build greater outcomes for the community. Senior roles at a disability charity and Leadership Victoria also helped give me a breadth of experience – both marketing and people leadership – which has been vital in shaping what I can bring to my role at VicHealth.

My current role

I oversee VicHealth’s external brand and reputation management. Overseeing our stakeholder engagement is also a crucial function, given the diversity of our stakeholders across so many different health imperatives. As a partnership-focused organisation, having strong relationships with our stakeholders is essential.

What I love most about working in the public sector

When the system works well you can achieve significant improvements for the community. Watching Victoria transform how we tackle domestic and family issues has been incredible to watch in the past five years. The intersection of growing community sentiment and demand for change, with Government taking a strong leadership stance, means transformational change can concur that will benefit people for generations to come.

My typical day

It could involve dealing with a Minister or their office around key issues, working with our creative agency (Shannon Group) on the new creative direction and TVC for This Girl Can in 2020, liaising with broadcast and print media on a media launch or working with some of our expert stakeholders on key messages on some of their material - and that could be all in the one day!

This Girl Can - what’s it about?

This Girl Can celebrates women who are all kinds of active. Women who are giving their all, or giving it a go, but not giving a damn! This Girl Can is about empowering Victorian women to enjoy being active without worrying about judgment, gender stereotypes or skill level. According to local and UK research, the fear of judgment holds too many women back from being as active as they would like. The campaign was originally launched in England in 2015 by Sport England and VicHealth is partnering with Sport England for a local version. Our goal is to create a community of women across Victoria who can share stories and advice to support each other and inspire others.

Key trends for the public sector and priorities for VicHealth in 2019?

Continuing to build strong relationships with the (mostly) new Ministerial portfolios and understanding their priorities. VicHealth will be launching our new Action Agenda for Health Promotion 2019-23 later in the year so that’s a huge priority as we determine our focus as an organisation.

I’m passionate about …

Gender equality. I’ve grown up and worked in a sector with as many talented and passionate women as men. It’s frustrating to see the slow pace of change but I’m proud to work at an organisation that allows me to be a champion of change. I’d love to see more of my male colleagues join me.

Also mentoring young people. I’ve been so lucky to have lots of great mentors in my life and I’m privileged to be able to return that generosity. I’m a big believer in paying it forward.

The best bit of advice given to me is…

Relationships are key. Most change happens by influence and that comes down to people. If you take the time to build strong relationships you’ll be able to find solutions that work for everyone.

Update on social housing initiative

At Hall & Wilcox, we are committed to enabling our people, our clients and our communities to thrive. Living that value, we are leading the public debate and working in a bipartisan way with state and federal governments and industry participants to explore new ways to deliver the social infrastructure that Australia’s most vulnerable so badly needs.

On 26 February, Hall & Wilcox co-hosted with Committee for Melbourne, John Alexander OAM MP, House of Representative Chair on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities to discuss the “Building Up and Moving Out” report and some of its key themes, including increasing affordable housing and infrastructure value capture.

On 14 March, Hall & Wilcox hosted Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Senator Doug Cameron, to share his insights on how Labor would look to build 250,000 affordable homes, if elected. We were joined by Councils, Community Housing Providers, developers and financiers for a meaningful and robust discussion about how we can all work together more effectively to help deliver much needed social infrastructure.

While the Chatham House Rules applied, Mark Richards presented on the topic of “Delivering Sustainable Communities”. Mark gave a real solution of a repeatable and scalable procurement delivery model that not only delivered affordable homes, but the additional amenities (ie. the schools, health facilities, specialist age care facilities and community facilities etc) required to create liveable and sustainable communities. Mark touched on international value capture models that deliver:

  1. repeatable and scalable social infrastructure projects;
  2. the option for Government to retain the land and uplift in value; and
  3. a new pathway for superannuation investment.

Federal Budget wrap-up

The Federal Budget is widely seen as a not-too-subtle election budget, with no new taxes, spending incentives for SME businesses, significant spending on infrastructure and health care, and increased funding for the ATO’s Tax Avoidance Taskforce.

Regarding infrastructure, this budget was consistent with expectations. It further increased infrastructure spending from $75 billion to $100 billion for the building of road, rail and air infrastructure.

With the increasing number of infrastructure projects being delivered nationally, this places further pressure on the construction industries to find skilled workers. An additional $525 million has been allocated towards the funding of 80,000 new apprenticeships, which will assist with alleviating some of these skill shortage pressures.

For the health sector, $100 million was allocated to upgrading existing health infrastructure and a further $1.3 billion allocated to support patient care in the community, which will reduce the pressure on hospital services.

There was no change to existing Government policy in relation to housing. The Treasurer referenced in his speech the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation and its recent $300 million bond raising. This bond will offer cheaper finance for Community Housing Providers to deliver 300 new affordable rental dwellings. There was no reference to matching Labor’s current election proposal to deliver 250,000 new affordable homes.

With an estimated 47,000 job vacancies in regional Australia and the absence of affordable housing to accommodate potential key workers, targeted investment in affordable housing infrastructure would be an additional avenue to support the Federal Government’s budget surplus strategy. The increased focus on economic infrastructure projects is a real positive. There is still a real need for growth in social infrastructure projects, delivery of which will – at least in the short term – continue to fall predominantly to the States and the Community Housing Provider sector.

You can read more of our Federal Budget commentary here.


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