We’re thrilled to welcome you to the Women’s portfolio and hope to create a progressive, respectful, collaborative, inclusive and empowering environment for women in the Law School. We are growing the Portfolio a lot this year and are excited for things to come!
As your Women’s Officers, we are here to provide a platform for women’s advocacy and to raise awareness for issues facing women in law as well as to draw attention to global concerns experienced by women in the greater community.
We’re excited to kick the year off with the annual International Women’s Day event and we are also looking forward to hosting a range of exciting events throughout the year and providing students the occasion to discuss important issues faced by women in the legal profession, as well as giving students a chance to chill out between classes, volunteer in the community and practice their advocacy skills.
We look forward to working with you in 2017! Please feel free to come into the LSS office or send us an email if you have any ideas, questions, or just want to chat. We would love to hear from you!
International Women's Day
On Wednesday the 8th of March the Women's Portfolio was honoured to host the Panel Mind the Gap: It's Not All About the Money.
We chose the theme because we felt that mainstream discussions of gender inequality often focuses on the pay gap while overshadowing the lived experience of women working in the law. We were honoured to present Kristen Walker QC and Magistrate Urfa Masood to talk about their own experiences as well as the women they work with. International Women's Day is about recognising and overcoming the intersectionality of disadvantage that women experience, an encapsulated by the event. Students were given the opportunity to ask the Panellists their own questions, and we also raised $97 which is being sent to UN Women, the money will be used to provide aid to women all around the world.
We were honoured to present our Panel in alphabetical order):
Kristen Walker: a Barrister with expertise in Constitutional, Human Rights, Sexuality and Discrimination Law. Ms Walker has taught at the University of Columbia and University of Arizona, and was an associate to Chief Justice Anthony Mason. Ms Walker worked on Ruhani v Director of Police speaking in the High Court five days after signing the bar role, and appeared on renown cases like Plaintiff M70 v Commonwealth and Rowe v Electoral Commissioner.
Urfa Masood: a Magistrate of Victoria. Magistrate Masood started practising Criminal law in 2003, working for the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Australian Tax Office. She has been a lecturer at College of Law, specialising in Advocacy. With expertise in Criminal, Child Protection and Family law, she brings extensive experience to the Bench. Magistrate Masood is the first Muslim woman to sit on the bench of any Victorian court.
Workshop #1 - Conscious Raising Session: Modern Oppression Open Discussion
The Women's Portfolio is excited to begin our series of workshops! These workshops will be cover a range of topics with a focus on practicality and student involvement.
Our first workshop was a conscious raising session. Conscious raising sessions were a major part of the feminist movement in the 1960s and were used as a form of activism and education.
It was great to have a free flowing discussion on 'modern' forms of oppression with students at MLS. We are even holding more sessions in the future based on positive feedback, so watch this space!
Workshop # 2 - Legal Writing Crash Course
While Law School can be great for learning theory and principles, do you sometimes wonder how all of it works in a practical sense? How exactly does one go about drafting a statement of claim or defence? Conducting research? Writing subpoenas or memoranda?
MULSS Women’s Portfolio was proud to offer women identifying students of MLS the opportunity to gain insight into the world of legal writing.
This Legal Writing Crash Course provided students with the chance to learn and engage with representatives from some of the top law firms. Students learned from Greg Thomas Barristers & Solicitors on Legal Research, Gilbert + Tobin on drafting Memorandums, Herbert Smith Freehills on drafting a Statement of Claim and Minter Ellison on Drafting a Defence.
Thank you to our amazing firm presenters and student attendees for a rich and practical experience!
Workshop # 3 - Women of Colour Breakfast
The MULSS Women’s and Indigenous Portfolio were honoured to present Alice Pung as our keynote speaker at our Women of Colour breakfast. Alice is a writer, editor and lawyer. She is an MLS Alumni, and was a Women's Officer while she was studying at MLS. Alice is currently a practising solicitor and an Artist in Residence at Melbourne University. Her family sought asylum in Australia in the 1980s, which influences her work. In 2015 she was one of Sydney Morning Herald's Young Novelists of the Year. Her novels 'Unpolished Gem' and 'Her Father's Daughter' were shortlisted in the Victorian and NSW Premiers’ Literary awards.
Alice gave an enriching reflection on her career, time as a Women's officer at MLS and law students. It was great to hear from her and see students, MLS academics and lawyers from Gilbert + Tobin, Herbert Smith Freehills and Minter Ellison bringing together their personal experiences.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Corporate Law
MULSS Women’s Portfolio presents
Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Corporate Law
The proverbial glass ceiling, with its not so proverbial impact on women in the corporate legal sector. While significant progress has been made in the way of women reaching the upper echelons of the profession, it goes without saying that structural barriers remain. This problem is two-fold; it requires societal appreciation of the intangible obstacles that persist and thoughtful, systematic change.
We would like to thank our amazing panelists Andrea Kennedy from Baker McKenzie, Janet Whiting from Gilbert + Tobin, Carolyn Pugsley from Herbert Smith Freehills and Elisa Romanian from Minter Ellison chaired by Jenny Morgan for the fantastic and enlighting discussion.
Outreach Program: Launch Event
MULSS Women’s Portfolio, in partnership with fEMPOWER, Safe Steps, Women’s Property Initiatives and Women and Mentoring present the Outreach Partnership Program. These community organisations provide support and assistance to women and children, working closely with volunteers in making a positive difference in our community.
The nature of this volunteering position will be specified in the Outreach Program Booklet, the nature of the position will be specified and is dependent on the organisation. The Event Launch on Wednesday 9th of August from 1-2pm in Law 223, is an opportunity for students to question, meet, and understand what is required for volunteering with each of these community-based organisations. Applications will close on Sunday the 20th of August. Please note that the volunteering program is for students who identify as women because the respective organisations only have women on staff. There will be light refreshments provided and plenty of women passionate about helping the community.
For more information about the opportunities please refer to the guidebook below which specifies the nature of volunteering and how to apply. We are lucky to welcome the following organisations into the partnership:
fEMPOWER runs workshops in high schools on ways to recognise and address gender inequality, with a particular focus on intersectional feminism. The workshops cover a broad range of topics, but focus on the harmful effects of gender stereotypes. In particular, how stereotypes can affect and are linked to, violence against women, participation in workplaces and societal expectations. Workshops are tailored to the different needs of schools and cover public, private, comprehensive, single sex and selective schools.
Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre is a not-for-profit, state-wide first responder for women and children experiencing violence and abuse from a partner, ex-partner, or another family member or someone close to them. Safe Steps aim to be a voice for prevention and elimination of violence against women and children by providing state-wide immediate response that informs, protects and connects women and children. Safe Steps work with all who want to eliminate violence against women and children, to build strong networks in order educate and inform the community to aid in the elimination of violence against women and children.
Women and Mentoring (WAM) runs a unique, early intervention program which supports women charged with criminal offence, through matching them individually with a supportive volunteer mentor. The mentors are trained, resourced and provide appropriate support to the program participants, to share their skills and contribute to the wider community. The program aims to make a positive experience to the lives of female offenders’, by informing them on coping mechanisms and addressing the underlying issues for their charges.
Women’s Property Initiatives is a not-for-profit, women-specific, Australian Registered Housing Provider. Working with private, public and non-government sectors, WPI aims to develop high-quality, safe and affordable housing for disadvantaged, women headed households.
We would like to thank fEMPOWER, Safe Steps, Women and Mentoring and Women’s Property Initiatives in participating in this wonderful opportunity for students at Melbourne Law School to give back to the community. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email the Women’s Portfolio at firstname.lastname@example.org
To access and download the guidebook please follow the link below:
Workshop #4 - How to do a Feminist Reading of the Law
The MULSS Women’s Portfolio was proud to present its 4th Workshop in the series titled ‘How to do a Feminist Reading of the Law’.
Feminist legal theory has the power to shape our understanding of the law. In doing so, its importance is highlighted in its incredible potential to reform social and political norms; challenging assumptions embedded in traditional legal doctrine. The MULSS Women’s Portfolio was honoured to present Professor Hilary Charlesworth, who presented an engaging presentation and discussion on intersectional feminism, law and its impact on society and university in general.
Workshop #5 - Verbal Assertiveness in Different Settings
The MULSS Women’s Portfolio was thrilled to present our fifth and final workshop on Verbal Assertiveness in Different Setting. The event was aimed at equipping women and non-binary students with the skills necessary for a career in the legal sector and more broadly, in a professional career. Being verbally assertive is critical to self-empowerment and can encourage others to also speak up and have their voice heard. By improving methods of communication in a professional setting, there is potential to diminish the effects of structural inequality. Also, when diverse perspectives are heard, more enlightened solutions are found.
We would like to thank our presenters for volunteering their time: Marnie Lloyd from Melbourne Law on 'School on Assertiveness – The Only Way', Justine Block from Melbourne Law School on 'Negotiating an employment contract', Jessica Williamson from 'WLW Lawyers on Advocating to a judge' and Madeleine Grant from the County Court of Victoria on 'Being verbally assertive at work about inappropriate behaviour'.