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MAINTAINING GOOD MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING

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: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/time-for-mean-girls-to-put-away-knives-and-aid-equality-20150306-13x07z.html)

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?

qanda

 

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.

 

WLWA encourages its members to make a donation to the charity "Starting Over Support" (SOS). SOS is a service for women and their families moving into private, public or community housing. Having to leave a violent relationship, unsafe accomodation and/or becoming homesless with no possessions is a common issue for women in our community. After securing permanent housing many women are left with no financial means to purchase items for their home. SOS will provide a household packge to help women with the basic necessities needed to live independently, lessening the financial pressure and stresses of moving forward.   

SOS is run 100% through volunteer in-kind support and donations. SOS is well underway and has been able to help 8 women in the last 3 months and have another 2 this week coming. Donations of whitegoods are scarce and the charity is needing to purchase these products for the women in need.

If members are considering upgrading their whitegoods, WLWA encourages them to donate them to SOS. SOS are still in need of the following:

  • Kitchen utensils
  • Washing machines
  • Furniture
  • Fridges
  • Linen
  • Vacuum cleaners

Please see attached flyer for more information.

Please also consider completing the SOS Donations form here  and deposit a small donation to help SOS with this work. SOS are asking for $52, once a year, the equivalent of $1 a week, not a huge sacrifice to make a significant difference to the women SOS assist. The donation is tax deductible and members will be issued with a receipt.

SOS are also looking for members willing to give a few hours of their time on a Sunday or Monday to deliver and collect donations. This might be once every 2 months or less and a roster of volunteers will be created so that everyone will know months in advance when you will be needed.

Please contact Debbie Mason or Kelda Oppermann on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

A Zonta House Women's Refuge initiative.

Women Lawyers High Tea - Friday 6 March 2015

Join us for the fifth annual Women Lawyers High Tea to celebrate International Women's Day on Friday, 6 March 2015 from 2:45 - 5:00pm.  Get together with friends and colleagues and hear from a panel of speakers discussing the topic of "Let's not wait another 20 years for gender equality".

 

Registration includes sweet and savoury treats and a selection of beverages including tea and sparkling wine.  Make sure you register soon as last year's event was a sell-out.

The High Tea is a joint event run by the Law Society and WLWA and is proudly sponsored by KBE Human CapitalCentia and Bellanhouse Legal.

 

Registration is through the Law Society - please click HERE to link to the event flyer including details of how to register. http://www.lawsocietywa.asn.au/visageimages/Events//150306_HighTea.pdf 

 

WLWA Honours Dinner - Friday 13 March 2015

Join us at the annual WLWA Honours Dinner on Friday 13 March 2015.

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.

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 on Friday 6 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)

SILVER SPONSOR: LawCPD (website HERE)

BRONZE SPONSOR: Ipac Western Australia (website HERE)

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)

SILVER SPONSOR: LawCPD (website HERE)

BRONZE SPONSOR: Ipac Western Australia (website HERE)

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