Johnson Partners Diversity Series –  Jayr Teng

Winner of the Legal and Professional Services category in the 2021 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards is Filipino-Australian, Jayr Teng.

Jayr Teng is the winner of the Legal and Professional Services category in the 2021 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards. His practice extends to myriad aspects of health and medical law in addition to criminal matters plus commercial and taxation law. Before joining the Victorian Bar, Jayr’s 10 years of broad legal experience included working as a Principal Solicitor at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) where he was the lead in-house solicitor responsible for the Victorian State’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Persons with a Disability.

Recent matters Jayr has appeared in and/or advised on include: The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of people with Disability (acting for the Victorian Public Sector Commission and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing) and the Victorian Ombudsman Investigation into the Detention and Treatment of Public Housing Residents Arising from a COVID-19 ‘Hard-Lockdown’ (advising the Department of Health and Human Services), amongst other significant cases.

Holding a Master of Laws and a Bachelor of Laws, Jayr’s scholarly expertise was recognised during his university studies as he was awarded an academic prize for Legal Issues in Medicine. His work is also published in a number of legal, academic and health industry journals. Johnson Partners (JP) caught up with him to discuss his legal roles and what motivates his sense of justice.

JP You are a Filipino born barrister practicing in Victoria. Looking back at your upbringing, what does that mean for you personally?

I was brought up in a family that was caring and traditional, and which valued education and hard work. Looking back, I feel like my upbringing – especially knowing the value of hard work – has held me in good stead during the development of my career. Personally, I feel very privileged to be able to practice as a barrister and to help others navigate the legal system often at times of great stress.


JP Since obtaining your Master of Laws, you have practiced in all aspects of health and medical law including public and administrative law, medical negligence, disciplinary proceedings and coronial inquests. How have your additional degrees in nursing and applied science (health promotion) plus a graduate certificate in management (health care leadership) influenced and supported your legal path?

My degrees in nursing and health promotion in addition to the clinical experience which I had prior to commencing legal practice have been especially helpful. They have benefitted me during times when specialised knowledge relating to clinical practice and the operation of the health system has been required in order to deliver practical and pragmatic legal solutions to unique problems. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic having a grounding in both clinical practice and law assisted me immeasurably when I was asked to advise on time critical and sensitive matters such as the impact of imposing restrictions based on public health advice. More recently, I am involved in disciplinary and medical negligence matters where this specialised knowledge is particularly helpful for the party I am assisting.

JP Last year, you were appointed a legal member of the Mental Health Tribunal, an independent tribunal established by the Mental Health Act 2014 that presides over hearings protecting the rights and dignity of people with mental illness, also determining whether they require compulsory treatment.  What are recent challenges that you have observed in this space?

There continues to be a substantial increase in demand for mental health services as access to psychiatrists and psychologists will often require a patient to wait for an extended period of time. Additionally, demand on public health services continues to be high. It is reassuring that these challenges have been recognised both at a state and federal level and that action and additional funding has been provided to assist.

“I am fortunate enough to be able to give back to others and this is what drives me to contribute my time and energy into the organisations I am involved in.”

JP During some of these tribunal hearings, one of your roles is to ensure that people of diverse cultural backgrounds have a fair hearing. In addition, you have been a member of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association since 2017, later becoming a committee member of the Victorian Branch, securing sponsorship opportunities and advising it in relation to COVID-19 matters. What drives you to contribute?

I am fortunate enough to be able to give back to others and this is what drives me to contribute my time and energy into the organisations I am involved in. I firmly believe that fairness in any type of hearing is fundamentally important especially when there may be cultural sensitivities that can and should be accommodated as part of the process. It is great to see that in the Victorian County Court there is recognition of these matters at a practical level including the introduction of a practice note relating to the pronunciation of names. Equally, my involvement in various not-for-profit culturally aligned organisations reflects my desire to help others by sharing my experiences with them, for example.

JP Since 2017 you have mentored a number of international Asian law students through the Melbourne University law school program. During your schooling and university days did role models or mentors guide/influence your academic journey, or was it more a case of significant events (public and/or private) that shaped your course?

 I have had – and still maintain – a number of strong mentoring relationships and they have been fundamentally important in shaping key decisions I have made during the course of my career.

JP What is the most rewarding aspect of your mentoring role?


Being able to give back to others is important to me because I understand how difficult and important decisions can be at times. I find the mentoring roles I am involved in particularly rewarding as I feel like I am able to demystify and assist those just starting out in their careers to get an insight into the areas of practice that I have been fortunate enough to practice in.

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