March 2021


Farewell to an AILA elder statesman

AILA President’s message – Cameron Roberts

The insurance industry in Tasmania has sadly lost one of its elder statesmen.

Brian Aherne, born on 19 February 1934, died on 27 December 2020 after a short illness. He was 86.

Brian was the AILA Tasmania secretariat for many years and, at the time of his death, was still the Tasmanian branch secretary for the Australasian Institute of Chartered Loss Adjusters.

He is predeceased by his wife, Nyra, an artist, and survived by three stepchildren and their partners and families. There was a private cremation followed later in January by a public memorial at the Hutchins School in Hobart, where Brian was an old boy.

Brian started his insurance career in 1951 and his involvement with insurance industry bodies continued until his death. When he retired, Brian established a consultancy, providing secretariat services to many insurance organisations in the island state.

Brian successfully operated the ANZIIF Branch in Tasmania, until local management was transferred interstate.

He was also secretary to the Nominal Insurer Committee. 

At a past AILA National Conference, a video was shown of Brian writing cheques for claimants after the devastating 1967 bushfires.

Former AILA national and Tasmanian president Steve Knight said Brian was “a highly regarded member of the insurance industry in Tasmania” and a senior industry statesman when Steve started practising insurance law in the 1980s.

“Brian will be very sadly missed by a great number of people. He was a friend, confidant, and mentor to many,” Steve said.

Lionel Banks, now retired, a former Tasmanian manager for GRE and later Zurich, said Brian was “a good mate, we shared a lot of red wine together”.

He said Brian was “the man with the most integrity I have met”, which made him ideal for the Nominal Insurer role because he always followed the rules to the letter.

However, on Saturdays, Brian and Lionel had “a love-hate relationship” as the pair played for rival AFL footy teams.

While I did not have the pleasure of meeting Brian, I am aware of the magnificent role he played in assisting the Tasmanian AILA Committee. Thanks to David Farmer, Steve Knight, and Lionel Banks for providing some background on his career.

AILA University Prizes

Congratulations to University of Tasmania (UTas) law student Madeleine Archer, 25, who won an AILA University Prize for achieving the highest marks in the civil procedure course in 2020.

Madeleine graduated in December 2020, is now enrolled in the legal practice course on campus, and will be admitted in August 2021.

She completed a combined law and science degree. Madeleine told Resolve she had not been looking forward to studying civil procedure, expecting the subject matter to be dry, but instead found it “really engaging”.

She enjoyed the personal injury content of her degree and says her studies have now put insurance law as a career path “on my radar, for sure”.

In her third year of studies, Madeleine also achieved the top mark in administrative law, and was a high achiever in public law.

Madeleine received $500 from AILA as winner of the 2020 University Prize for UTas.

UTas is one of seven universities participating in the AILA University Prize, however during 2020, the awards were curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two winners from 2019, whose prizes were presented in 2020, were Tiela Morrison, who studied at the Griffith University Law School, Qld, and UTas student Georgina Barnes. Congratulations to you both.

The AILA National Board is currently considering a proposal to expand the University Prize program.

The goals are to:

  • develop relationships with universities and law students to promote and increase the understanding of the insurance industry as a career option and promote an understanding of AILA
  • facilitate further educational opportunities for AILA branches, for example, by using academic staff as presenters at AILA events, and
  • encourage students from participating universities to be involved in AILA’s Young Professional initiatives.

AILA rebranding, new IT system

The Board is currently considering designs for rebranding AILA. The rebranding will include variations for areas of special interest, like financiallines@AILA, life@AILA, diversity@AILA, liability@AILA and others.

There will be more news on this front at this year's National Conference.

In tandem with the rebranding, AILA is developing a new website with improved functionality and features. The board is considering a range of tenders and will deliberate on the best way forward. This is a significant financial investment for AILA, but an important step to improve member communications, accessibility to information and streamline event-booking processes.

The new website will herald an entirely new IT system for AILA and we are confident all members will appreciate the improved functionality.

AILA events in 2021

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, AILA is seeking to transition to hybrid face-to-face and online events.

The fluid situation with cluster outbreaks creating short-term lockdowns and restrictions means AILA must consider the best possible ways to deliver its professional development events, regardless of the circumstances.

It is a challenge for AILA National and all the branches, but one we are meeting head on. We look forward to being able to deliver outstanding programs in a range of formats across the country in 2021.

Stay safe.

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Resolve is the official publication of the Australian Insurance Law Association and
the New Zealand Insurance Law Association.