27 Feb President’s Report – February 2019
The WLASA held its annual Strategy Day on 2 February 2019. It was an incredibly productive morning and it is an absolute pleasure to be leading such a dynamic, enthusiastic, dedicated and hard working Committee.
As we enter the final year of our 2015-2019 Strategic Plan I am proud of the progress that has been made as an Association but there is still much work to be done. The Strategy Day gave the Committee an opportunity to pause to reflect and revisit our strategic goals, identify those that have been accomplished, consider the areas that require further focus in order to meet our remaining strategic objectives and also consider what our next phase of planning looks like as we work towards developing the Association’s new Strategic Plan for the 2020-2025 period.
I wanted to dedicate my President’s report for this month to sharing some of the exciting initiatives agreed at the Strategy Day.
- With the 2020-2025 strategic period on our doorstep we have established a working group to develop the Association’s next Strategic Plan. The working group will commence formal meetings in March 2019 with a view to finalising the new plan by October 2019. We welcome any suggestions you may have on the future direction/objectives of the WLASA and the ways in which we can meaningfully and usefully implement our goals. Please email any suggestions or thoughts you have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On Friday, 8 March 2019 Adelaide and the world will be celebrating International Women’s Day. This day has become a time to reflect on progress, to call for change and to celebrate the courage and determination of the women who changed history and those who will advance gender equality into the future. It is a day where we celebrate the social, economic and cultural achievements of women around the globe. Australia’s IWD theme for 2019 is ‘More Powerful Together.’ This theme recognises the important role we all play – as women, men, non-binary and gender diverse people to work collaboratively to break down stereotypes and gender roles to create a world where women and girls have equal rights and opportunities. The #More Powerful Together theme is a clarion call to stand in unison for gender equality and places a strong emphasis on the role that collaboration, broad and positive engagement, collective action and shared responsibility all have to play in achieving true gender equality. This theme resonates perfectly with the strategic direction and focus of the Association in 2019 and complements the well-established objectives that form the strategic framework for the Association. For that reason we have formally agreed to adopt #More Powerful Together as the Association’s theme for 2019 and, in doing so, have committed to ensuring that the work undertaken by the WLASA this year will shine a light on the important ideals encapsulated by this theme.
- One of the WLASA’s key objectives is achieving justice and equality for all women in the community and in 2019 the WLASA to will continue to place a strong and dedicated focus on its policy work. The WLASA’s policy agenda crosses over a number of important issues, however, in 2019 the policy issues that have been identified as being a high priority for the WLASA are abortion law reform, equitable briefing, sexual harassment and pay transparency. We also continue to actively support the campaign for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Australia and I encourage readers to visit https://www.womenlawyerssa.org.au/sex-industry-decriminalisation-faq/ to read a blog post authored by our Policy subcommittee Chair, Jessie MacGillivray, summarising the proposed reform in this area. We will provide you with regular updates on progress and developments in our policy areas over the course of the year.
- As a continuation of our policy work, in March 2019 the WLASA will be launching ‘The Charter for the Advancement of Women.’ The Charter is designed to promote and support strategies to retain women in the profession over the course of their careers and encourage and promote their career progression into senior executive and management positions. The Charter aims to achieve this by assisting legal practices to develop cultures which promote diversity and inclusion that impact positively on all practitioners in their workplaces, resulting in better business outcomes for legal practices, the legal profession and communities as a whole. Signatories will be asked to commit, within two years of signing the Charter, to implementing strategies including promoting and supporting mentoring and sponsorship of women in the profession, encouraging and supporting flexible work practices, implementing recruitment and promotion strategies that include gender diversity as an important consideration and driving change to eliminate unconscious bias and sexual harassment. We will be engaging with firms following the launch of the Charter to promote and share this initiative. We look forward to the profession’s support of this incredibly important project.
- The WLASA continues to enjoy a growing membership from all different corners of the profession and the State. To ensure that the WLASA remains relevant, useful and responsive to the needs of each of our members we will be increasing our collaboration with the Law Society of SA, Women at the Bar, the Association of Women Judges and our three Universities. In addition to working together on various potential joint events and initiatives we are actively seeking a student from each of our Universities, a member of the Bar and a regional practitioner to join the Committee in a representative capacity to ensure that the WLASA is hearing from and addressing the needs and interests of all sections of our membership.
- It is also incredibly important to the WLASA that all members are regularly informed about and actively engaged in the work of the WLASA. With this in mind, we will be adding a further string to our communications bow by publishing a monthly e-newsletter to members. It is our hope that the newsletter will provide an informative and engaging snapshot of the work of the WLASA, give an overview of the events that have been held in the previous month, provide future key dates for your diary and profile members and areas of expertise from our ‘Find A Female Lawyer’ Database. It will also include links to articles of interest together with my monthly President’s report. The first Edition of the newsletter will be distributed to members in March 2019. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed developing it!
- To complement our formal networking and event program, we will also be arranging some more informal networking opportunities to allow our members to maintain or establish connections in a relaxed environment. The first of these events for 2019 is the ‘Mum and Bubs – Keeping You Connected’ picnic which will be held on Friday, 22 March 2019 from 12.30pm – 1.30pm on the grass outside the Sir Samuel Way building. All members are welcome! This is great an opportunity for practitioners on or recently returned from parental leave to connect or catch up with their networks and colleagues. Bring your lunch, kids, pets and enjoy the sun shine while it lasts! An invitation containing further details will be circulated to members over the coming days.
- Our free for members CPD series continues to go from strength to strength! Our first CPD for 2019 will be held on 18 March 2019 at Cowell Clarke’s offices. The topic ‘Tips for how to smash the glass ceiling’ will be presented by a stellar panel of speakers comprising Magistrate Jackson, Alison Shaw, Suzanne Mackenzie and Cheryl Phillips. We hope that you can join us for an interactive discussion about the challenges facing women in the law. To register please click here. Our CPD series will continue over the course of the year so keep your eyes out for future events.
- We have committed to placing an increased focus on recognising and promoting the successes of our female practitioners in South Australia. As part of this increased focus we plan to actively promote (or assist the promotion of) South Australian women lawyers for State, National and International awards, together with advertising the details of relevant industry awards to our membership on a regular basis. Once again, we will also honour and formally recognise the outstanding efforts and achievements of a South Australian female practitioner though the WLASA’s Honourable Dr Layton AO QC Award.
- The WLASA’s ‘Find a Female Lawyer’ Database is also an important resource for female lawyers in South Australia to promote their practice and to connect them with potential clients. In 2019 we will be placing additional focus on advertising the ‘Final A Female Lawyer’ Database to the public and promoting the female practitioners listed on the Registry.
- Two of the most beloved dates on the WLASA’s annual calendar are the ‘Margaret Nyland Long Lunch’ and the ‘Drinks with the Judiciary’ event. Planning is well underway for both events and we look forward to sharing further exciting details with you about both events shortly.
- 18 December 2019 marks the 125th anniversary of the passing of the Adult Suffrage Bill giving women the right to vote in South Australia and to stand for Parliament. The WLASA stands proudly on the shoulders of the brave and brilliant suffragists as we honour their legacy and continue the unfinished business of creating a more equal and just society. Their triumph is certainly our motivation. To commemorate this historical milestone in South Australian history we are in the process of planning an event in which we will honour and shine a light on the extraordinary achievements of South Australia’s trailblazing women, both then and now. Stay tuned!
Although there is much work to be done we are excited about the journey ahead. Wishing you all a fun-filled Mad March and a Happy International Women’s Day!