The latest news from Women Lawyers of Western Australia (Inc.).  If you would like to submit an article or news item, please Contact Us.

WLWA encourgaes members to register for the CASE for refugees fundraising CPD scheduled for this Thursday 19 February 2015 from 6.30 pm to 8pm at King & Wood Mallesons.

The presenter, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Dan Mori will talk about the Australian Government systems for supporting Australians facing trail overseas and the relevant procedures from extradtion t the transfer of prisoners back to Australia to serve any sentence.

All the profits raised by this seminar will go to the A Fair Go For Asylum Seekers Appeal. The Appeal provides asylum seekers with access to specialist legal expertise, maximising their chance of a successful outcome if their claims are genuine.

The event will attract one CPD point. Please see attached flyer for more details and to register.

As part of the Law Society’s commitment to women in the legal profession, and in response to both WLWA's Gender Bias Taskforce Review and NARS it is running 2 seminars this month on unconscious bias. The Law Society has brought in a professional management consultant to work with both groups.

The first session is on Tuesday 17 February 2015 at 8.30 am - 10.30 am on Level 5, 160 St Georges Terrace Perth and is aimed at women in the legal profession coping with an environment in which unconscious bias exists. The session will be chaired by Gemey Visscher, Partner at Minter Ellison. Click here to view the flyer and register.

The second session is on Wednesday 18 February 2015 at 8.30am - 10.30 am, on Level 5, 160 St Georges Terrace, Perth and is aimed at everyone in the profession but particularly those who hold management position or positions of influence in order to identify and prevent unconscious bias. This session will be chaired by Konrad de Kerloy, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills. Click here Click here to view the flyer and register.

WLWA encourages members to attend both of these sessions so that attendees will go back to their employment with a strong message to tell their colleagues.

Nominate an Outstanding Woman Lawyer now!!

Nominations are NOW OPEN for our Woman Lawyer of the Year Awards, to be presented at our annual Honours Dinner on Friday 13 March 2015 .

The Awards are an important way to recognise and celebrate the success of women lawyers, particularly achievement and success that may not have otherwise have been recognised.

We strongly encourage you to nominate your colleagues who are outstanding candidates for our four award categories:

1. Woman Lawyer of the Year;

2. Senior Woman Lawyer of the Year;

3. Junior Woman Lawyer of the Year; and

4. Rural, Regional and Remote Woman Lawyer of the Year (*New Category*)

Nominations close on 28 February 2015.

For full details on the awards, including a copy of the Selection Criteria and how to nominate, please click HERE.

WLWA are devastated with the news of a terrorist attack in Paris and sends its condolences to the victim's families and friends.

WLWA would like to welcome all its members back after the Christmas break and wish you all a Happy New Year!

We were inspired today by an article on realistic new year's resolutions written by Meredith the Mentor and published on Women's Agenda. A new year gives us all the opportunity to make changes in our lives. However, so often January 1 comes, and we are no better off than we were last year (with little to no resolve to make things better).

Over the holidays we certainly reflected on our successes and mistakes in 2014 and we encourage members to do the same. Physically writing down the positives and the negatives of the past year is a great place to start when making resolutions. Where could you have done better? What do you want to see change? Given its now January and most of our members are back at work, we think it's a great time to put our thoughts into action.

Resolutions should be positive and achievable and make the most of the passing of time that comes with ticking over into a new year. So without further ado here are the realistic changes we would like to implement in 2015.

1. Accept you are who you are because you are pretty amazing. Maybe you're not the Partner, CEO, perfect parent nor the professional athlete you always imagined you'd become. That's ok. You are who you are and that's the best bit about being you. There is no point beating yourself up every day about everything you haven’t achieved such as that bonus at work, the perfect bikini body or being organised enough to send out Christmas cards to all your friends and family. Focus on the positives and stop being your own worst enemy. Females especially seem to be the hardest on themselves and each other. Let's start by being our own cheerleaders and celebrate what we have achieved. Start by congratulating friends and colleagues when they have achieved a goal (whether personal or professional) and you will start to notice others will do that for you. Update your resume even if you're not job-hunting and physically list your accomplishments. Be grateful and proud of your successes in life and stop focusing on the negatives. When it comes to being 'better', start with what you've already got and set your goals from there.

2. But forget the 'legacy' and the category others have placed you in. This legacy is your perceived limitations -- it's the 'I've always been this way, so that's the way it is'. Stop listening to people who talk down on your abilities whether it’s a criticism of you not being a good cook, being overweight or not reading enough. Accepting you are who you are doesn't mean you have to cave in to your limitations, perceived or otherwise. Instead, it means you can recognise these limitations and move to find work-arounds. If it means that much to you then just do it and stop being scared of failing. Get out that Jamie Oliver cookbook, arrange to go for a lunch time walk with a colleague or sign up for a book club. Just because people place you in a certain category doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Alternatively, if the very thought of your 'limitations legacy' holds you back, then make a deliberate decision to move on -- 'that was then, this is now. And now matters so much more than then.'

3. Connect with others and develop a network. Humans are social creatures which explains why there's nothing more motivating and rewarding than building and being part of a community. These communities can provide excellent help in pursuing your goals – such as the desire to get fit, pursue a particular hobby, improve on your career etc – and can offer entertainment and fun in the process. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask a friend for the support you need. It can be a bonding experience you'll never forget. WLWA is just one of the networks that that can help you meet like-minded people who are more than happy to support you. Become a member, join a working group or come along to one our monthly networking lunches and practice the mantra of successful people "Never eat alone." No matter what your passion, hobby, ambition, there's a community to help. Even if it's merely via a group on LinkedIn, Facebook or Meetup. Seek these groups out, they'll be happy to have you and remember that life should not revolve around work and we must always find time to pursue our passions whatever they may be.

4. Practice daily habits. These habits are yours to decide and should be small enough to be implemented straight away. Break big goals such as wanting to become more organised down into something measurable such as clearing your inbox every day and spending 5 minutes every night planning for the next day. If you know you never have time in the mornings to eat breakfast at home and work out before work then buy your food and leave it at work to avoid eating out. Go for a walk over lunch with a friend. Don't let someone tell you to read affirmations in front of the mirror every morning if that's not actually your thing. A lot of great tasks in life don’t get finished, because we waste a lot of time doing things that are unimportant or unrelated to our goals. Think about all the time you spend on social networking Web sites or those two hours in front of the television every night. Wouldn’t that time be better spent working towards your resolutions? We so readily say, “Oh, I just don’t have time.” The truth is that you can make time. Identify the time-wasters in your day and replace them with daily habits that will bring you closer to your goal and can easily be worked into your schedule.

5. Forgive. This should be easy to do – as long as you can let go of the ego but may be harder to implement in practice. It's so much simpler to enjoy the people around you, love the person you are, and get on with the stuff you plan to do, if you can forgive others for the small things they do that annoy or even hurt you. Grudges sap energy and waste time. Whether its family drama, battles with friends or disagreements with colleagues learn to move on. You don't have to tell others you forgive them, just think it yourself and start interacting as if the slate has been wiped clean. Meanwhile, learn to forgive yourself: for that 'limitations legacy', for forgetting your daily habits and for realising that sometimes, you just need to give yourself the chance to start all over again. It's never too late.

What resolutions will you be implementing in 2015?

Click here to read the whole of the article on Women's Agenda.

The Govenrment of Western Australia Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services has recently released the Report of an Announced Inspection of Bandyup Women's Prisonin October 2014.

According to the Inspector's overview women's imprisoment in Western Australia is in crisis and Bandyup is the hardest and most neglected prison in the state. Since 2009 the Inspector has been urging incraesed investment in women's priosn and the 2011 report on Banyup was bleak and pessimistic calling for urgent action and investment. The Department of Corrective Services did formally accept most of the report's recommendation but there was little sense of urgency.

Click here to read the whole report.



Do you know a woman who deserves to be inducted into the WA Women's Hall of Fame? If so please consider nominations and forward them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The WA Women's Hall of Fame was first established in 2011 in recognition of the Centenary of International Women's Day held annually on 8th March. One hundred women were inducted at the centenary, across a range of sectors and celebrating a diverse set of achievements.

It's purpose is to recognise and celebrate the achievements of Western Australian women past, present and future.

The Hall of Fame was bolstered by the creation of a Roll of Honour in 2012, to formally acknowledge women who were no longer with us but whose efforts were critical to the State's social and economic development.

In 2013, women's groups were celebrated with a landmark research project entitled "Women's Business: Mapping Women's Groups in Western Australia."

Women's group have played an integral role in shaping Western Australia for more than 120 years. Whether small, medium or large, existing for a brief period or spanning decades, or designed as a social group or for political lobby, all have helped to make the State what it is today.

In the words of human rights activist Christine Karumba; "One woman can achieve anything, Many women can change everything"

Nominations are now open for 2015 until 5.00pm on Friday 30 January 2015

For more information please visit


The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) released a very interesting publication by 'Women in Leadership: Understanding the gender gap' in June 2013.

This publication examines why women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions and paid less than their male colleagues in the Australian workforce, looking at the full spectrum of issues from unconscious bias to tax arrangements and childcare. It also looks at what has worked elsewhere, from onsite childcare to tackling the portrayal of women in the media such as the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in the US.

CEDA is a national, independent, member-based organisation providing thought leadership and policy perspectives on the economic and social issues affecting Australia. In 2013 CEDA explored a broad range of Women in Leadership issues, including: barriers to career progression, the gender pay and participation gap, tax incentives and childcare, workplace diversity, and hidden cultural and unconscious barriers. Click here to read more on the CEDA website.

On 6 June 2013 CEDA released a policy perspective on Women in Leadership: Understanding the gender gap at an event in Sydney. Click here to download the publication.

CEDA's 2013 Women in Leadership research explores business, economic and cultural aspects of Women in Leadership, including:

  • Barriers to equality of opportunity in the workforce;
  • Unconscious bias and the consequences to women in the workforce;
  • Implications of the current tax and transfer system and its effect on the female participation rate;
  • Financial and social outcomes for women;
  • The impact of societal expectations and culture on women's choices;
  • Personal experiences of women in the workforce throughout their career;
  • Barriers women face to progression into leadership roles;
  • Empirical evidence and policies of how to narrow the gender gap; and
  • The business case for diversity and the way forward for organisations.

The report makes recommendations on enabling workplace meritocracies, changing workplace culture and engaging leaders and introducing accountability. To read recommendations in full click here to see the report's Executive Summary.

In 2013, CEDA surveyed the business community, primarily its members and past Women in Leadershipevent attendees (over 600 participants) to help identify current barriers to equality of opportunity. The survey found
more than 50 per cent of respondents, predominantly women, have been discriminated against on the basis of gender in the workplace.

While Australia has made some progress in getting more women into the workforce and into senior leadership positions, there is still a long way to go. Economically, Australia cannot afford to ignore the female workforce, especially as the nation's productivity remains a key priority.

Today, more women graduate from university than men and continue to perform better academically. Yet, as of December 2012, the percentage of women on ASX 200 boards was 15.4 per cent and 52 of the ASX
200 companies still did not have any women on their boards. Clearly the gender gap remains in Australian workplaces and more needs to be done to ensure women have the same participation choices, remuneration and career possibilities as their male counterparts. Understanding the gender gap will assist businesses to capitalise on the opportunities a more diverse workplace and talent pool offer, while enabling organisations and governments to formulate more effective strategies.

CEDA's Women in Leadership Series has been running for four years, with the conversation spanning a variety of topics including poor female participation in the workforce, how to move more women into senior roles, productivity issues, cultural and unconscious bias.

The Aboriginal Women's Legal Education Trust (AWLT) provides scholarships to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to attend Western Australian universities to study law.

The scholarships are awarded to indigenous women with the potential and enthusiasm to succeed at law school. They provide holders with financial and other support (mentoring, networking and employment access) to complete their studies and begin their careers. The objective of the Trust is to produce law graduates who are job-ready and who have access to professional employment at the conclusion of their degree.

As a primary goal of the scholarship is to strengthen indigenous communities through educational opportunities, the Trust seeks applicants who are academically able and committed to contributing to their own communities.

Applicants need to be:

  • an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander woman who usually resides in the State of Western Australia and who is a citizen or permanent resident of Australia;
  • eligible to be, or currently, enrolled as a student at a university in Western Australia in a course which is a bachelor's degree or higher qualification in the study of law;
  • eligible for AbStudy, AusStudy, and / or Youth Allowance or similar:
  • motivated to undertake and be committed to her programme of studies;
  • able to demonstrate enthusiasm and willingness for the proposed course of studies and have a drive to achieve her degree; and
  • someone with potential to be a leader in the wider Indigenous or Australian community

For further information please contact Clare Thompson on email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone 08 9220 0444, fax 08 0220 0454.

Applications should include a letter or statement setting out information on how you meet each of the six criteria listed above, plus a resume and academic information e.g. school or university results if available, plus references, if available. You should be able to provide proof of your status as an indigenous woman.

Applications should be addressed to the Trustee, AWL Education Trust, at Level 19, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA and must be received by 12 noon on Friday 13 February 2015.

Late applications will not be considered.

Applications are encouraged from women who have particular disadvantage arising from distance, educational history, age or family circumstances or for any other reason.

Women Lawyers of Western Australia and the rest of the legal profession are saddened by the tragic loss of two young lives including one of our rising young female barristers in NSW in the wake of Monday's 16-hour siege in Sydney.

Police released details yesterday and identified the two victims as 38-year-old Katrina Dawson and 34-year-old Tori Johnson.

Johnson was the manager of the Lindt Café, who reportedly attempted to wrestle the gunman's weapon from his hands as he dozed off inside the café. The gunman awoke and fatally shot Johnson during the struggle. He had been employed at the Lindt Café for just over two years. "To me, that's 100 per cent Tori," said restauranteur Peter Manettas, who worked with Mr Johnson at the Adria Bar and Restaurant in Darling Harbour until 2012.

"He was an extremely selfless person. He always put his staff first. He was a leader in all senses of the word. He was a very proud person and a very ambitious person and a mentor to a lot of staff."

At a mass for the victims in St Mary's Cathedral on Tuesday, Archbishop Anthony Fisher told the congregation of Mr Johnson's bravery. "Apparently seeing an opportunity, Tori grabbed the gun. Tragically it went off, killing him. But it triggered the response of police and eventual freedom for most of the hostages," Archbishop Fisher said.

Mr Johnson's family released a statement expressing both their grief and pride. "We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for," the statement said. "We feel heartfelt sorrow for the family of Katrina Dawson. We'd like to thank not only our friends and loved ones for their support, but the people of Sydney; Australia and those around the world for reaching out with their thoughts and prayers. "Let us all pray for peace on earth."

Katrina Dawson was a successful Sydney barrister who worked in the Selbourne Chambers in the CBD. She has three young children under the age of ten. Her youngest daughter is four. She was reportedly defending a colleague when she was shot by the hostage-taker.

Dawson topped the NSW Higher School Certificate in 1994 with a perfect score of 100. She went on to study law at the University of Sydney and also to top her bar exams. She is the sister of media barrister Sandy Dawson and the wife of corporate lawyer and Mallesons partner Paul Smith. She was having coffee with colleague Julie Taylor when gunman Man Haron Monis laid siege on the Lindt Café on Monday morning.

In a statement, the president of the New South Wales Bar Association, Jane Needham, said "Katrina was one of our best and brightest barristers who will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends at the NSW Bar."  "She was a devoted mother-of-three children and a valued member of her floor and of our bar community. "Our thoughts are with her family at this time including her brother Sandy Dawson of Banco Chambers."

Jeremy Stoljar SC, a close friend and mentor who worked with Katrina at the Eighth Floor Selborne Chambers, "She was a terrific barrister, she had first class legal skills, and more importantly she was a wonderful person," Jeremy Stoljar said. "She was a very funny, loving person, very popular, very caring person. I can't believe we're having this conversation."

Female lawyers contemplating a move to the bar were often advised to speak to Katrina before they did so. She was the person that seemed to make motherhood and a career at the bar work. Former Governor General Quentin Bryce was in tears. She had been the principal at the University of Sydney's Women's College while Katrina was senior student at the hall of residence. "Our country has lost a shining star," Ms Bryce said.

"Confident, courageous, out-front, articulate, warm and funny, but thoughtful, gentle and understanding too."

Thousands of people have been lining up to pay tribute to the victims at a makeshift memorial at the scene of the hostage drama in Martin Place. A sea of flowers is growing by the minute. Joining in the tributes was a long line of dignitaries, including the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, the New South Wales governor David Hurley, and the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margie.

WLWA sends hope and prayers to Katrina and Tori's families in the wake of the terrible tragedy.

Login Form

Current and former members of WLWA can login here to renew, rejoin and access members-only content on our website