Law Week Breakfast Keynote speaker

Deidre Willmott, CEO, CCI (WA)


The Law Society started Law Week this week with a breakfast to start the festitvities of lawyers engaging with the community.  The keynote speaker for the breakfast was Deidre Willmott, the CEO of CCI (WA) and former lawyer.

Deidre spoke about increasing diversity in leadership roles and how we can all take some steps to help increase that diversity.  It was an excellent and thought provoking speech.


With Deidre's permission, her speech is reproduced here.

WLWA strongly encourages its members to attend the official release of the Filling the Pool Report on 3 June 2015. There is a lot of overlap with the NARS and Gender Bias Taskforce recommendations and the results of the landmark confirm that it is not just lawyers facing these issues, it is a professional hurdle that other industries also face.

The Filling the Pool study is an initiative proudly supported by the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC). The Committee for Perth is officially releasing this ground-breaking report on 3 June 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Perth. 

Filling the Pool is a two year, research project that examines the issue of gender inequality, one of the most significant economic and social issues of the 21st century. By specifically focusing on Western Australia, the report uncovers complex business, personal and cultural factors which exacerbate the largest gender pay gap in the country and the least number of women in executive and board roles.
The findings of Filling the Pool are based on interviews with 173 local chairs, board members, CEOs, female executives and managers, executive recruiters and HR personnel, recent female graduates and women who have opted out of the workforce. The result is a comprehensive roadmap of solutions with four recommendations for government, 18 recommendations for organisations and their leaders and nine recommendations for women.
This event is for Western Australians who want to unlock the underutilised talent pool of females and enhance the State’s economic output. WLWA hope it will give members more ideas on how to implement some of the recommendations in the GBT Report and help increase the participation of women in senior positions!
The price per person is $160 and Table of 10 $150, this includes a two course lunch, wine and soft drinks. 
Register by 12 May 2015 at   
Further Enquiries please contact Holly Fulker Committee for Perth t: (08) 94815699 e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The legal profession can often be a stressful one. This only amplifies the need to promote good mental health through proper practices and procedures.

The Australian Financial Review recently noted the encouraging trend of law firms signing up to the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation's guidelines to tackle depression.

"The guidelines are just good business – it makes people more efficient and productive, there's greater innovation, your insurance premiums go down, there's less turnover of staff," said Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation co-founder Marie Jepson.

As part of Law Week 2015, John Poulsen, Managing Partner of Squire Patton Boggs, will present a Mental Health and Wellbeing Seminar on his firm's implementation of the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation Best Practice Guidelines. Hear about his approach to building and maintaining a sustainable, mentally healthy, resilient and successful legal practice. Register online through the Law Society Website here.


For more information see flyer.

WLWA are advising members that a new Chairperson is being sought for the Board of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia. The remuneration is $31,622 per year.

The Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia is an independent and impartial body that receives, investigates and resolves complaints about electricity, gas and water services providers in Western Australia.

The Chairperson will:

  • Provide leadership to the Board and effective Board governance;
  • Lead, as required, recruitment of Board directors;
  • Ensure the development, implementation and monitoring of effective and efficient business, budget and policy planning; and
  • Manage Board performance

Applications close Monday 27 April 2015 please see attached job advertisement for further details.

Women Lawyers of Western Australia Inc joins the Law Society of Western Australia in extending condolences today to the family of former High Court Justice, the Hon John Toohey AC QC’s, following his passing on 9 April 2015.

The former High Court judge who presided over the landmark Mabo decision has been remembered as one of Australia's most eminent jurists. The 1992 Mabo judgement was a watershed land rights ruling, finding the Meriam people were entitled to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands in the Murray Islands in the eastern section of the Torres Strait.

Law Society of Western Australia president Matthew Keogh said Mr Toohey was one of Australia's most eminent jurists and contributors to the law and justice.

Mr Keogh also said Mr Toohey was a well-respected solicitor and president of the Law Society before his appointment to the Federal Court and then the High Court.

"There are few people who have given more to the practice of law and service to justice," Mr Keogh said.

Read the full statement by the Law Society here.

We are delighted to celebrate the recipients of the 2015 Woman Lawyer of the Year Awards and the 2015 Aboriginal Women's Legal Education Trust Scholarship.

Senior Woman Lawyer of the Year:   Susan Fielding

Woman Lawyer of the Year:   Elspeth Hensler

Junior Woman Lawyer of the Year:   Jessica Bowman and Stephanie Puris

Rural Regional and Remote Woman Lawyer of the Year:  Samatha Martella

Aboriginal Women's Legal Education Trust Scholarship:   Laura Vincent

These Awards were announced at WLWA's Honours Dinner held on Friday 13 March 2015 at the UWA Club. Close to 200 people were in attendance at the annual black-tie event to celebrate the remarkable achievements of Western Australian women lawyers – – in particular to acknowledge the appointment of Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AO (Governor) and to honour the new appointees to the bench (Her Honour Judge Vicki Laura Stewart (District Court), Her Honour Magistrate Ciara Tyson (Family Court), Member Karen Whitney (State Administrative Tribunal) and Member Hannah Leslie (State Administrative Tribunal).

WLWA would like to that all those that attended the Honours Dinner and would especially like to thank those that made donations on the night to use for implementing the 2014 Gender Review Reports many recommendations. We are thrilled to share that we receieved $1,309.50 in cash donations.

WLWA would also like to thank our sponsors from the night John Toohey Chambers, Law CPD and IPac. We also thank Ruc Cullen of Cullen Wines, Babington and Hughes for the contribution and support of the Gender Bias Project.

Photos from the event will be posted shortly.

Tina McAulay 3As part of our International Women's Day celebrations, Women Lawyers of Western Australia Inc are sharing the inspiring stories of the Women of Western Australia. We began by sitting down with WLWA President Tina McAulay to discuss what International Women's Day means to her.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Tina McAulay and I am the President of Women Lawyers of Western Australia Inc. I am a lawyer, I am a mum, I am a daughter, a sister, an aunty. I am a mentor, I am a mentee and I support and promote the advancement of women.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day means a day to not only celebrate the achievement of women, of women’s progress, it is about continuing to strive for equality, it means standing up against inequality and it means listening to the influential stories of other women and supporting women on a global scale. Start small, aim high, achieve.

Did you do anything to commemorate IWD? If so, what did you do and why?

I commemorated IWD by posting about IWD on social media. I attended and chaired the High Tea for women lawyers hosted by The Law Society – aimed at addressing gender inequality. I attended the launch of International Women’s Day by the Minister for Women’s Interests, the Hon. Liza Harvey MLA and I have been preparing for the WLWA Honours dinner for Friday 13 March 2015 to coincide with IWD to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women in the law.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing women in the law and the administration of justice?

There are so many. To start, unconscious bias is probably the biggest challenge. Unconscious bias is not just by men, many women also are unconsciously bias towards men because the profession is so largely male dominated. Educating the profession and addressing this is important. Women face prejudices in salary equality. This is challenging when men with the same level of experience as you are receiving more money without justification.

Flexible work practices and career advancement is another big challenge. The Government has come a long way, but private practice needs to ensure flexible practice and not being available 24/7 or in the office for 10 hours a day is mainstream. The work/life balance and changing the culture of the profession away from the need to be in the office for long hours is essential. Minimum conditions of employment need to be created. Employers need to be held to task. Expecting employees to be in the office for long days every day has an effect on the mental health and wellbeing of the profession. The Government has awards to govern this. Private practice needs to catch up. I commend those organisations that already have flexible work practices in place, well done.

As for the administration of justice, there are plenty of challenges women face in getting access to justice. Education of cultural diversity in all courts is important. Providing adequate facilities to women in courts is important, including child care facilities, breastfeeding facilities and separate waiting areas for victims of crime – it is abhorrent that women have to sit in the same waiting areas as their attacker while they wait for their matter to be called. The Gender Bias Taskforce Review Report looks at these issues in more detail, including the challenges women face in crime.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing women in the legal profession, and do you think the challenges change as a woman’s career evolves?

Some of the biggest challenges facing women in the legal profession I have dealt with already. The challenges definitely change as a woman’s career evolves. For example, as a junior practitioner, you face challenges of working long hours and pay disparity. As your career develops and you have children, you face challenges of balancing work and family – which is particularly difficult if you are expected to be in the office for long days – that means you are away from your children for 10 plus hours a day if you work full time and may not even see them awake. Other challenges are whether you can either afford to work flexibly or part time or if your employer allows it. I think it is generally known if you reduce your workload you face difficulty being promoted and advancing at the same rate a counterpart would that has continued to work full time. As you get older, caring for parents, school events etc. have an impact. Also, lacking the energy to keep working those hours has a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing and is physically draining.

When and how did you first become aware of these challenges? Were you aware of this issue at law school?

I was somewhat aware of these challenges at law school but it doesn’t really hit home until it happens to you. Having children and being able to juggle everything is a real challenge, especially when you are running your own business and involved in numerous committees, playing very active roles. I have learnt that as much as I have tried to be superwoman, it really is challenging.

What do you think the legal profession can do about some of these challenges?

The legal profession can address this by promoting the advancement of women. This includes briefing more women at the bar, especially in complex litigation. They can ask for women to junior senior counsel. They can account to the profession for their briefs to women and adhere to the model briefing policy. The bar could also introduce a clerking system similar to that used in the Eastern States, so that work is divided up. Obviously in WA you face the added challenge of having to find your own work, which really leaves you to get the small work from the small firms because unless you have a promoter in the profession to introduce you to the big firms and clients and give you challenging work, it will be a long time before you get there yourself. Particularly having promoters will help achieve this.

Despite the obvious answer, what role do you believe other women have in promoting other women in the workplace? (See following article:

Women have an important role to promote other women in the workplace. Men do it to other men, so why don’t women do it enough? There has been a lot of focus in recent years about mentors, but not about promoters. The He for She campaign and male champions of change are all great initiatives to help support women’s advancement and it is a community issue. The CEO’s for Gender Equity is another initiative to help support women at senior level. However, if women don’t support, encourage and promote other women, it just makes it even harder to get ahead. Lawyers are naturally competitive, but that doesn’t mean other women should be mean. Grow up, support, encourage and promote the advancement of other women and you will feel much better for it. What you get out of helping someone is much better than the feeling you get from being mean.

What steps do you think an organisation can take to cultivate a flexible work practice?

There are many steps an organisation can take to cultivate a flexible work practice. Organisations include universities, government employers – including the Courts providing part time or flexible judicial appointments, private practice and in-house. Professional bodies also have a role to play in promoting, supporting and encouraging flexible work practice. Some of the steps include:

  • Move away from a 24/7 availability

  • Encourage employees to work remotely

  • Move away from time billing, focus on deliverables (it doesn’t matter if that work is done in the office or at 10pm at night at home – what matters is the result and productivity)

  • Be flexible and your employees are more likely to be flexible with you

  • Be collegiate and communicate about flexibility

  • Have policies, there is a policy you can adopt on The Law Society website if you don’t have one already – be open to negotiation – what works for one might not suit another

  • Support, encourage and promote the advancement of women – it’s good for business – look at your business cases, can you improve them?

Do you believe there are biases against people who work part time/ flexibility and if so, what are they and what can you do to change this?

There are biases against people who work part time or flexibly, but these biases may be more unconscious than conscious. For example, it may be seen that they don’t put in enough effort. The consultations from the GBT Review Report show however, that most women who work part time or flexibly actually give more time and work than they are getting paid a pro rata rate for. The prejudices are because of a lack of knowledge or understanding. Change the culture of thinking everyone must be in the office from 8am to 6pm. People are most productive at different times. Be accepting of contributions people make and be open to new ways of achieving those outcomes. Create a diversity representative in your workplace – to help articulate some of these issues and assist flexible practice. You will find it isn’t always the women that want to work flexibly. It should be part of everyday practice.

Editor's note. Tina and the rest of the WLWA Committee will be attending the annual Honours Dinner tonight to continue our International Women's Day celebrations. Keep your eye out for updates on who the deserving winners are on our website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. We would love to hear from our members and find out what YOU have been doing to commemorate International Women's Day?



Last night's Q and A on ABC was a pretty special event. The show celebrated forty years of International Women's Day by featuring the first all-female panel in its seven-year history. 

International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday. You can read more here.

With political and current affairs commentator, Annabel Crabb as host, the panel also included Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, feminist commentator Germaine Greer, Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay, Best & Less CEO Holly Kramer and Youth Without Borders founder Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Read more about the panel on Women's Agenda here.

The questions asked included: feminists contradictions, Julie Bishop rejecting the label of feminist, how women in the media are represented, selling feminism to men, a Bali prisoner swap, women CEO's, sexual harassment of Doctors, career and family, going topless on Instagram and are you pleased to be a girl. Read the list of questions here.

There is extraordinary power in women joining forces and working together to advocate change. WLWA think it was a fantastic podium for bringing to light inequality between the sexes and a very enlightening discussion for young women of Australia to hear. However some commentators have said there were many missed opportunities for these amazing, powerful women to address bigger issues. Clementine Ford of the Daily Life asked in an article earlier today where was the concern for exploring issues of disability, of queerness, of poverty and of sovereignty? Why is the inclusion of Aboriginal women, for example, not considered to be essential to public feminist discourse in this country?

"Is it too much to ask that we start having conversations about the fact Aboriginal women are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of violence, or that disabled women are 90% more likely to have people sexually assault them with no consequences - and that these conversations be led by the women most likely to be targeted by these forms of intersectional oppression?" Ford said.

WLWA agrees that it is important that the feminist discourse is inclusive and represents the broad spectrum of society and not just the voices of white middle class women who measure success as equality in the corpotate sphere. As Ford noted "...analysis is needed of how impoverished women of colour are supposed to fit into the Australian corporate feminist utopia." WLWA would also have loved to hear what inspiring message the panel could have given the women and girls of Australia to motivate locally-based, community action and generate awareness towards the horrendous imbalance of men to women parliamentary decision makers in our country.

Regardless, it was still a very moving episode and discussion. Some of the best moments were when Yassmin Abdel-Magied commented on structural inequalities holding us back and addressing unconscious bias. "I feel like I'm a broken record when I talk about the fact that unconscious bias exists, but what we do about it is the important part," she said.

Julie Bishop was surprisingly likeable, especially her stance on labels which we can be harmful and unproductive towards change and action in all spheres. "Instead of focusing on so much analysing the labels, let's look at what people do," she said. "It's being judged on what you actually seek to achieve rather than how you label yourself."

One of our favourite moments from the panel was Roxane Gay declaring that she doesn't care about how we engage men and that they need to 'get over it'. We agree that sometimes too much time and energy is devoted to figuring out how to 'engage' men. It's a waste of time and it's boring. Power has never been shared because oppressed people have behaved in an appropriately polite manner - it has been taken by people who have fought for it, sometimes at great detriment to their own safety and sanity.

But as Ford noted, this urge to placate and soothe runs so deep that we even had a 'not all male surgeons' moment when discussion moved to the comments made by senior surgeon Gabrielle McMullin in regards to workplace sexual assault and harassment in the medical field. In exposing the abhorrent practice of cajoling and threatening subordinate colleagues into sex, why must the immediate concern be reassuring the surgical fraternity that of course, we don't mean all of them, only the very naughty ones?

WLWA tends to agree with the sentiments of Yassmin Abdel-Magied who said, we are all furnished with our own unconscious biases. True allegiance to social justice movements has to mean that everyone is willing and eager to constantly address and unpack them.

Women are powerful change makers, we need to come together to take real holistic action against climate change at all levels, local and government. At a local level, Women make over 70% of consumer decisions that affect household carbon footprint, and in the developing world it is women and children who are most exposed to the negative impacts of global warming.

WLWA were excited to announce the release of the Executive Summary to the 20th Anniversay Review of the 1994 Chief Justice's Gender Bias Taskforce Report (2014 Review Report) last week just in time for International Women's Day celebrations. You can read the Executive Summary for the 2014 Review Report here and the Media Release by WLWA here.

The Executive Summary highlights some of the most important recommendations for each of the nine chapters in combating gender bias and access to justice. WLWA encourages its members to look at the recommendations that affect you and start implementing the changes.

Together we can take action and motivate change for the better!

If you would like to comment on the Executive Summary or contribute to the implementation of the recommendations in the 2014 Review Report, please contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let us know what your area of interest is, and how you would like to contribute.

WLWA are also interested in your views and what questions you wish the panellists on Q &A were asked? What are were your favourite bits? What are you going to do to #makeithappen for #IWD ?

To continue to celebrate International Women's Day WLWA will be teaming up with Young Lawyers and sharing inspirational stories of the Women of Western Australia staring with WLWA President Tina McAulay. Please send your questions and/or comments through to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Happy International Women's Day to all!



Today WLWA are excited to announce the release of the Executive Summary to the 20th Anniversay Review of the 1994 Chief Justice's Gender Bias Taskforce Report (2014 Review Report) in time for International Women's Day celebrations.

You can read the Executive Summary for the 2014 Review Report here and the Media Release by WLWA here.

The Executive Summary highlights some of the most important recommendations for each of the nine chapters in combating gender bias and access to justice. WLWA encourages its members to look at the recommendations that affect you and start implementing the changes.

The 2014 Review Report was published in September 2014 and provides 197 recommendations to government agencies, organisations and groups, including the Law Society and the Western Australian Bar Association.

WLWA will be consulting with all of the organisations mentioned in the recommendations.

If you would like to comment on the Executive Summary or contribute to the implementation of the recommendations in the 2014 Review Report, please contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let us know what your area of interest is, and how you would like to contribute.


Registrations for WLWA Honours Dinner close TODAY and Nominees for Woman Lawyers of the Year Awards announced!

Join Women Lawyers of Western Australia - Inc. in celebrating International Women's Day by registering for our Honours Dinner next Friday 13 March 2015. The WLWA Honours Dinner is an annual event and is held to acknowledge the appointments and achievements of women in the Western Australian legal community.

WLWA will acknowledge the appointment of Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AO (Governor) and  honour the appointments of Her Honour  Judge Vicki Laura Stewart (District Court), Her Honour Magistrate Ciara Tyson (Family Court), Member Karen Whitney (State Administrative Tribunal) and  Member Hanna Leslie (State Administrative Tribunal).

We will also celebrate the winners of the Woman Lawyer of the Year Awards and the Aboriginal Women's Legal Education Trust (AWLT) scholarship recipient. Further details about the AWLT Scholarship can be found on the Awards Page of the website.

We have received the following nominations for our Woman of the Year Awards:

Senior Woman Lawyer of the Year

    • Rebecca Lee
    • Susan Fielding
    • Luisa Dropulich
    • Rabia Siddique

Woman Lawyer of the Year

    • Rabia Siddique
    • Elspeth Hensler (from 2 nominees)

Junior Woman Lawyer of the Year

    • Nikita Barsby
    • Cassandra Wee
    • Danielle Johnson-Kellett
    • Jessica Bowman and Stephanie Puris (jointly and severally)

Rural Regional and Remote Woman Lawyer of the Year

    • Erin Churchill
    • Samantha Martella

Please note that partners and non-members are welcome, so grab your significant other and friends for a lovely evening celebrating women's achievements!

Further details to register for the event are in the attached flyer and on the Projects Page of the website. Registration closes TODAY! March 2015.

Please also note that WLWA is calling for donations from members at the Honours Dinner to assist WLWA with the costs associated with implementation of the recommendation in the 2014 Gender Bias Report.

WLWA would like to thank the sponsors of our 2015 Honours Dinner for their valued support:

GOLD SPONSOR: John Toohey Chambers (website HERE)


BRONZE SPONSOR: Ipac Western Australia (website HERE)

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