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

According to this article written by Natasha Harradine and published by the ABC on 7 December 2014, Trauma victim support group angelhands  is struggling for funding and sustainability.

Harradine writes that twenty years ago Ann O'Neill was the victim of a horrendous crime - her estranged husband entered her home, shot dead their two children and maimed Ann before taking his own life. There were no specific support services for a person who had experienced such trauma in the mid 1990s. Since then she has worked to ensure that no-one else needs to deal with such complex issues on their own.

Despite leaving school at 15, she returned to study seven months after the incident, completing her high school certificate, graduating from university with first-class honours and then completing a PhD into how people affected by homicide and serious violence experience their trauma recovery. That award-winning research underpins the services offered by the organisation she founded in Western Australia - angelhands.

As well as providing "befrienders" who work with victims to help manage their trauma, angelhands delivers victim-awareness training within the justice system and advice to government. WA's Attorney-General Michael Mischin said angelhands gives a voice to victims of crime. "It seeks to educate the community on the needs of people affected by violence and has done sterling work in that regard," he said. Dr O'Neill said the organisation has helped create a much more victim-aware community.

"I think if the community had of been more victim aware then as it is now, I wouldn't have had so many re-victimisations," she said.

Despite the extraordinary work angelhands does, funding is an ongoing issue. In the last financial year, the group provided support to hundreds of trauma victims across the country on a budget of less than $90,000.

If you would like to learn more about angelhands or make a donation please visit their website here.

Click here to read the rest of the article on the ABC Website.

Jennifer Hoffman, Commissioner for Victims of Crime has released the Summer 2014 edition of Your Voice: Update from the Commissioner for Victims of Crime newsletter.

The Commissioner for Victims of Crime has particular responsibility to ensure that both members of the public and government agencies are aware of the Victims of Crime Act 1994 and of their corresponding rights and responsibilities under that Act.

A new community education initiative comprises a series of videos to provide information to victims of crime to assist them navigate the criminal justice system. The first three videos completed include:

1. Your Voice: Overview - This video provides information to assist victims of crime understand how they could be involved in the criminal justice system and support services they can access. It explains the standards of treatment victims of crime can rightly expect in accordance with the guidelines of the Victims of Crime Act 1994.

2. Your Voice: Victim Impact Statement - A Victim Impact Statement (VIS) tells the judge or magistrate about how a crime has affected you. It may be taken into account when the offender is sentenced. This video includes information about a VIS, when they are required, who can write one and what could be considered for inclusion.

3. Your Voice: Children and Adolescent Witnesses - Young people are often witnesses in court proceedings. This video has been developed to assist young victims of crime, and other young people, prepare to give evidence in Court.

Click here to watch the videos on the Commissioner's website.

According to this article written by Judith Ireland and published by the Sydney Morning Herald on 8 December 2014, Coalition MPs have welcomed Prime Minister Tony Abbott's move to water down his unpopular paid parental leave scheme, but have warned that he should not ignore support for stay-at-home mothers in the process.

Ireland says that Mr Abbott will spend the summer holidays revamping his signature policy, but faces a tough task with divergent backbench views about how he should approach it. Some MPs are keen to see him pay down national debt with PPL savings, rather than boost funds to childcare. On Sunday the Prime Minister announced he would divert funds away from paid parental leave towards childcare. Mr Abbott did not give any specific details of his plans, but said the scheme would be "better targeted", in a sign wealthier mums could no longer be eligible. He also stressed that the policy would still be based on "a woman's real wage" and include superannuation.

Confused Coalition MPs contacted each other on Sunday, trying to work out what the announcement meant. Mr Abbott's revamp plan comes after sustained and widespread criticism of his existing $5.5 billion policy that would have replaced a new mother's income for 26 weeks, with superannuation, up to a cap of $50,000.

Those within the government have argued the scheme is too expensive and others, such as the Productivity Commission have suggested that the money would be better spend on early childhood education. The Coalition has also been unable to secure Senate support for the scheme, with opposition from Labor, the Greens, Palmer United and other crossbenchers.

Click here to read the whole article.

WLWA would like to thank all it's members who attended our Christmas Function on Tuesday night at Rubix Bar. The night was a great success with a large cross section of members both from law school and members of the profession. We will be posting photos from the event shortly so please check our website and facebook page. Special thanks must go to Social Chair Tara Connolly for arranging the well attended event.

The WLWA Committee were overwhelmed with the generosity of its members who brought along toiletries to be donated to the Women's Refuge. There were many many bags to remove from the venue and we truly were blown away. Thank you all again for displaying the true Christmas Spirit. Congratulations also to Elizabeth Heenan who won the door prize of a lovely bottle of Moet. A perfect prize to start the Christmas celebrations early!

We would like to take this opportunity to again wish all our members a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope everyone enjoys a well deserved break and comes back rejuvenated for a busy and exciting 2015!

 

According to this article written by Angela Priestly and published by Women's Agenda on 26 November 2014, progress on workplace gender equality has been painstakingly slow. Waiting around for women to educate themselves further, or another generation of men to enter the workforce, is simply not good enough.

Priestly says that if women are going to have the same opportunities as men for satisfying and fulfilling careers, then we're going to need change: Big, uncomfortable, inconvenient change. We need the kind of change that does not simply occur with an overnight fix – nor even by throwing a huge amount of money at it. We need change that touches every aspect of business, society, politics and the community – from the assumptions we make about each other, to the roles we take on at home, our national system of care, and the way we've come to accept how we structure our work.

Women's Agenda recently polled 144 of its members and asked them what they want from their careers in 2015.

At the end of the survey, they asked them to share in one sentence on what needs to change for the careers of women in 2015. The readers came up with a large variety of responses and, given it was an open-ended question, it's difficult to offer a data-based summary. But a quick text analysis found the key phrases and words used most often included childcare, flexible work, gender, leadership, unconscious bias and acceptance.

This is an overview of the 20 most prominent changes that their readers said need to take place. WLWA asks its members to consider what changes they think will be critical in 2015.

1. Childcare. This came up over and over again and appeared to be the biggest pain point for readers. The childcare system isn't meeting the current needs of families. It needs to be more accessible, affordable and flexible. Childcare should move from being a 'women's issue' to a 'societal issue'. Meanwhile, the importance of addressing the care system should also extend to before and after school care.

2. Mainstream flexible work. The ability to ask for flexible work, to pursue flexible careers and to successfully sustain a satisfying role flexibly, is vital for women -- as it is for men too. Flexible work must move from being a 'nice to offer working mothers' to something that's actively encouraged in order to create happier and more holistic human beings.

3. Equal pay for equal work. You'd think by 2015 we'd have this one figured out. But as data released last week from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows, the difference in base remuneration between men and women working full-time is now 19.9%. Equal pay for equal work is essential for improving the careers of women.

4. More female role models. We know they exist, but we don't hear enough about them. They are not quoted enough in major newspapers, nor are their stories celebrated enough within organisations. Visible role models are necessary for inspiring ambitions in others, particularly in ensuring young women realise the full potential for their careers. We need to know more about just how certain female leaders have reached the position they're in, to learn how they've personally overcome the barriers that stand in the way of so many others.

5. Address the imbalance. The juggling act -- particularly the one that includes managing work, kids, home and other pressures -- is hurting women. We need to better share the load between the genders, and to keep working at removing the social expectations that currently exist on men and women. If women are going to have a better chance at work, they need more help at home. A true, greater share of the domestic work -- and a shift in ended stereotypes and assumptions regarding who takes on the caring responsibilities -- will result in better opportunities for women in paid work.

6. Bring men into the discussion. As one reader put it: "Women need to stop talking to women about discrimination or 'women's issues' and make the men the discussion'. We admit that on Women's Agenda we can be a little guilty of directing the discussion at women, but men must also be engaged in order to facilitate. Or as another reader said: "We need to stop preaching to the converted - women - and inspire, encourage and support men to be the instruments of change."

7. Less judgement, less guilt. Women have been given more choices over their careers, now it's time to exercise it - without the added baggage of guilt and judgement. It's up to women to determine if and how they're going to pursue a career, which will ultimately give more men a choice too. It's up to all of us to watch our language and actions when responding to the choices of others.

8. End the boys club. It's still there, although changes dramatically in size according to where you work and the industry you work in. The so-called 'boys club' mentality has seen women miss out on opportunities -- new roles, promotions and pay -- for far too long and needs to be dismantled once and for all. Often, this means a significant overhaul of promotion and recruitment procedures.

9. Political action over rhetoric. Some of you lamented the fact that for all the talk of providing more equal opportunities for women there's little action on the ground. Equality needs to be "championed" in politics, rather than being used as a vote winning mechanism. Indeed, it'd help to have more than one woman in Cabinet, no matter how many others are 'knocking at the door'.

10. Quotas and transparency. A number of readers believe quotas are now necessary at the board level in order to see a greater representation of women. Transparency will also help: in hiring practices, in determining promotions, and promoting equal pay

Read more: 20 things that need to change for women’s careers in 2015 →

According to this article by Georgia Dent, published by Women's Agenda on 27 November 2014, women, and particularly mothers, are often told to ditch the guilt. The advice is often given alongside the popular refrain that women are their own worst enemies. In some cases that might ring true; they may impose impossible standard upon themselves. But in every case those standards and the associated guilt are not their own private creation.

Telling women to stop feeling guilty is good advice to an extent. But in the same way that merely telling women to lean in won't of itself create new workplaces that are more supportive of female leaders, telling women to stop feeling guilty is futile unless we look at and address the context in which women feel guilt.

Dent asks why do women feel so guilty? Is it because they wake up and think they want to try and make their lives as complicated and angst-ridden as possible? Because they want to anguish over how and when they work, and over how and when they will have a family, or care for their family?

Tempting as it is to dismiss this guilt as a rod women build for their own backs, it's disingenuous to dismiss the role we all play in building that rod. We are all responsible for the social context in which women and men live. And, whether we accept it or not, the social context in which women and men live creates a raft of difficult standards for women.

Despite plenty of rhetoric our workplaces do not adequately accommodate females. The report card handed down by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency last Tuesday is unequivocal in this regard. But many women entered the workforce believing structural discrimination was no longer an issue. They are hardwired to believe that their hard work will be rewarded; blaming the system is counter intuitive to many. But whether they like it or not their progression at work is hampered by their being female. And it's worse when they have a baby.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

According to this article written by Angela Priestly and published on Women's Agenda on 28 November 2014, almost 70% of employees in the legal profession are female, but don't expect anything like that figure when it comes to the sector's top management positions. And don't even think for a minute that women working in the profession would be earning anything like their male counterparts.

According to data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency this week, the Australian legal sector is doing particularly poorly when it comes to workplace gender equality. And it's especially true when it comes to pay, with women working full-time in law earning an average 35.6% less than their male counterparts.

Sixty six legal organisations reported to WGEA, covering a total of 28,109 employees. It's clear the legal profession has long had a problem when it comes to the still too few number of women in partnerships, but never before has the true imbalance of the profession's gender composition been so evident.

WGEA found women make up just 6.5% of 'CEO/Head of business' positions in the legal sector (compared with a total average of 17.3%). This is despite the fact that women hold 36.3% of the next layer down of management positions and 30.6% of 'general manager'positions — both higher than the average across all industries, at 26.1% and 27.8% respectively.

Go two more management layers down and women appear to be doing particularly well — holding 44.9% of 'senior manager' positions and 60.2% of 'other manager' positions.

But something is clearly going wrong on the way to the very top.

Meanwhile, something is seriously askew with pay and it's not something that can be blamed on 'women not negotiating for bonuses' alone. The total remuneration gap is 35.6%, just slightly under the 35.8% base remuneration gap. (The pay analysis does not include equity partner remuneration.)

Click here to read the rest of the article.

According to this article written by Angela Priestly and published today on Women's Agenda, the 'Next Big Thing' is about all the great new things that technology can do – as heard by a line-up of (mostly) men.

In April 2015, the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre will host The Next Big Thing Summit. This summit brings together "the world's foremost thinkers, innovators and business strategies" to discuss, presumably, the next big thing.

It just so happens that 93% of those "foremost thinkers" are male. Just one woman, Digivzer CEO and co-founder Emma Lo Russo, is listed next to the 14 men. There are two four-person panels on the program, neither of which feature any women. Seemingly, only men are privy to "the next big thing" – despite the fact women make up half the population and are using technology and social media at the same rate as men.

It's men like technology innovator Mark Pease who can help the 'next big thing' in conferences, summits and events get their gender balance right in the future.

Over the weekend, Pease wrote at The Register that he's taking a stand against 'sausagefests'. "I won't be speaking or even attending events where women have been forgotten, excluded, or ignored," he said.

As he later told Women's Agenda sister publication StartUpSmart, the turning point came during #gamergate, and he's publicly taking a stand because otherwise he will merely be part of the problem.

Pease joins a growing list of men who are speaking out about male-dominated events. Late last year, Sex Discrimination Commission got 21 senior executives and public servants to sign her 'panel pledge', including Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Macquarie chair Kevin McCann, Chief of Army Lt Gen David Morrison, ANC CEO Mike Smith and Telstra CEO David Thodey.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The Law Council of Australia has just released Australia's gender equality scorecard with the key results from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency's 2013-14 reporting data.

This report examines findings from the comprehensive gender data provided by Australian employers and provides an overall statement in the introduction which says:

"Lifting female workforce participation and closing the gap in earnings between women and men is a significant national productivity imperative. At an organisational level, employers increasingly recognise their future growth depends on their ability to maximise the full potential of the best female and male talent."

Dismantling the cultural and structural barriers that limit women's ability to engage in employment and then progress to leadership roles is central to achieving gender equality. This endgame depends, in part, on employers establishing the strategies and initiatives that are known enablers of gender equality, and then tracking their impact."

The report surveyed more than 11,000 employers and 3.9 million employees. Some of the key results include:

  • Women comprise only 26.1% of key management personnel (KMP) positions and 17.3% of CEO positions
  • 33.5% of employers have no KMPs who are women and 31.3% of organisations have no "other executives/general managers" who are women
  • Less than one in ten organisations have set a target to lift the number of women around the boardroom table despite only 23.7% of directorships being held by women and just 12.0% of charis being women
  • 19.9% the gender pay gap for full time base remuneration; 24.7% the gender pay gap for full-time total remuneration
  • Only 13.6% of employers have a strategy for flexible working and only 13.2% of employers have a strategy to support employees with family or caring responsibilities
  • Less than one in four employers have conducted a genmder remuneration gap analysis to check for potential pay equity issues
  • Few employers are taking a startegic whole-of-enterprise approach to gender equality, Only 7.1% of employers have a standalone overall gender equality staretgy

Click here  to read the whole Report Card on the Law Council's website.

WLWA agrees that used to its full potential, the data in the report will be a game-changer. A high-level overview of the data is outlined in this report with a more comprehensive dataset available online at www.wgea.gov.au via a powerful data visualisation tool. Critically, employers will have access to their own customised, confidential benchmark reports that map and track their performance against the comparison group they choose.

WLWA are excited to use the data in this report to assist in implementing the recommendaitons of their 2014 Gender Bias Review Report available here. 

Should you be interested in joining the Gender Bias Taskforce Implementation Committee  or one of our working groups, please Contact Us to submit an expression of interest setting out the working group that you are interested in joining and your full contact details.

 

 

In an article published today on Women's Agenda, Anna Spargo-Ryan addressed the danger of Mark Latham's column which attacked both feminists and those suffering from mental illness (published on the Australian Financial review yesterday) and addressed in a WLWA newsflash here.

Spargo-Ryan attacked Latham's column for reinforcing the stigma surrounding mental illness in Australia and relayed her own encounters with mental illness explaining how her dad felt the horror of not knowing his father was contemplating suicide before it was too late as well her own experience with Post Natal Depression. 

She talked about the importance of starting a conversation with someone and how sharing stories on her online blog helped her to realise she wasn't alone and reinforced how vital community is to address mental illness.

"Reduction in stigma only happens when people feel confident that they can speak truthfully about what's happening to them. Sometimes it takes a brave person to come out first, but once that person does, and another person does, and another person does, we begin to have a conversation. We start to educate people through real life, to help them understand that depression is not a weakness, that anxiety is not always rational, that being a person with a mental illness is not to the exclusion of all other things.

And when we do that, the people who can find us and see us and know us are the people who haven't felt that they can speak up, thank you internet. People at bus stops, people in dark rooms, people at work, people on holiday. People who are experiencing some kind of lapse in their brain function, whether permanent or temporary, who aren't alone anymore, and who can see a way forward." - Spargo - Ryan

SANE Australia has something to say about stigma: Stigma in the media is especially harmful because the media plays an important role in shaping and reinforcing community attitudes.

The words used by Mark Latham in his column yesterday included: "How will the children feel when they grow up and learn that they pushed their mother onto anti-depressants? Women I speak to in western Sydney, who have no neuroses or ideological agenda to push, regard child-rearing as a joy."

WLWA agrees that the reintroduction of stigma surrounding PND – during PND Awareness Week, is a dangerous activity and could be risking women's lives who are on the cusp and haven't started a conversation about their internal battles yet. Spargo-Ryan asks the reader to imagine: a woman with a month-old baby, who is sitting on her couch and feeling nothing. Maybe she realises she needs help. Maybe she's even thinking about getting some. Then she reads something from someone in the national media that tells her she's got it all wrong. That if she were an even half-decent person, she would find child-rearing a joy. That the author of that piece is a strong and real parent because he doesn't need any help. That the only kind of parent you can be is an able, capable, joyous one.

Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death. WLWA calls for it's readers to use this debate to work together and help remove the stigma attached to mental illness by supporting both women and men who may be suffering in silence.

Click here to read the whole article.

 

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