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  • 18 Jun 2020 1:29 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    Black Lives Matter: a challenge to the law A webinar presented by the IBA’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)

    Join the Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, in conversation with David Lammy, Ulele Burnham and Matthew Ryder QC, to discuss the ways in which the justice system perpetuates systemic racism in the UK and beyond, and the role legal systems must take in dismantling it.

    Go to: https://www.ibanet.org/Black-Lives-Matter-a-challenge-to-the-law.aspx

  • 15 Jun 2020 10:55 PM | Anonymous

    Asian Australian Lawyers Association

    Statement from the National Executive Committee

    Black Lives Matter

    The Asian Australian Lawyers Association stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, acknowledging that racism is still prevalent in our society. In America and elsewhere, Black communities have been affected by displacement, violence and systemic racism for hundreds of years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities have been affected by misunderstanding, ignorance, displacement, violence, mistreatment and racism ever since Europeans entered the country. These acts and omissions have resulted in considerable injustice and inequity, much of which is yet to be seriously addressed.

    This global movement has brought Australia’s attention to the flaws in our own justice system. As a body that represents the legal profession, we stand proud of our diversity, and aware of our privilege as members of the legal profession. We acknowledge our experience is different, but we come from a place of a shared understanding that racism should not be accepted in any form and we are committed to the transformation that is required of us all.

    We can start by actively calling out racism when we see it, standing with our African American, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends and colleagues and all other Australians of a culturally diverse background, informing the misinformed and spreading awareness among our communities of the many injustices that still exist.

    We will listen. We will build the knowledge, empathy and respect required to have the courage to speak out and act when we see injustice.  We will invite others to the table to discuss their experiences and continue to build a collective network. We are humble and mindful of the history that has brought our communities together.

    We will seek to be champions of equality and diversity in our workplaces, our communities and our homes by actively playing our part in Australia’s reconciliation journey.  We also call on the Law Societies and Bar Associations of each State and Territory to implement compulsory cultural competency training as part of the profession’s continuing professional development requirements as a baseline standard.

    To achieve fundamental, intersectional and inclusive change in our systems, we as lawyers must grow and become more accepting of difference, challenge our biases and modes of thinking. Let us diversify our newsfeeds, read histories and philosophies different to our own, learn and listen to the songs and stories of all our neighbours — internalise the different languages, accents, messages. Lead by example; be an engaged ally; transform oneself.

    Ten important books on Indigenous cultures, histories and politics: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Rec-News-Ten-Important-Books.pdf

    For information and resources on Australia’s reconciliation journey, please visit https://www.reconciliation.org.au/.

    Kind regards

    Asian Australian Lawyers Association National Executive Committee
  • 10 Jun 2020 5:54 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    AALA congratulates My Anh Tran on her appointment as a Judge of the County Court of Victoria

    Immediately prior to the appointment announced by the Victorian Government on 10 June, 2020, Ms Tran was serving as a Judicial Registrar within the Commercial Division of the County Court, having been appointed in May 2015. She signed the Bar Roll in May 2002.

    During this time, Ms Tran has overseen the expansion of judicial mediation within the Commercial Division and assisted with the development of a pro bono protocol with the Victorian Bar, the reform of case management procedures and the implementation of electronic court files.

    Ms Tran holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne, as well as a Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford.

    See: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-appointments-to-the-county-and-coroners-courts/

  • 02 Jun 2020 9:39 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)
    For Asians in Australia, a collective memory of racial trauma
    • Feelings of low self-worth and anger from discriminatory incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic are affecting the mental health of ethnic minorities
    • Society needs to change its understanding of what racism is and speak up against it, experts say

    Read more: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/people/article/3086666/asians-australia-collective-memory-racial-trauma

  • 30 May 2020 5:41 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    MasterChef has given us reasons to laugh, to cry and to be really, really hungry. Now it’s crossed another threshold! 

    Something revolutionary happened on MasterChef tonight.

    For most viewers, they probably didn’t even notice. But for the 16 per cent of Australians who claimed Asian ancestry at the last Census, it’s a significant moment.

    With all five cooks – Reynold Poernomo, Jess Liemantara, Poh Ling Yeow, Khanh Ong and Brendan Pang – in tonight’s immunity challenge hailing from Asian backgrounds, plus judge Melissa Leong, Asian-Australians are actually over-represented.

    Read on: https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/tv-shows/hugely-significant-masterchef-moment/news-story/0ed2152b063bf6a1280092717d73655e

  • 28 May 2020 8:06 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    What to do if you're a victim of racism in Australia? Australians have a number of ways to report racism, but the vast majority of incidents go unreported. With many advocacy groups saying COVID-19 is fuelling racism around Australia, victims are being urged to report any kind of racist attack. But without a national reporting system, processes are often confusing, leaving most incidents unaddressed and uncounted. SBS News looks at what you can do if you experience racism. Go to: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/what-to-do-if-you-re-a-victim-of-racism-in-australia

  • 20 May 2020 12:48 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    Australian boards are male and pale, by Sally Patten, BOSS editor, AFR, 20 May, 2020

    Despite a hefty increase in the number of female board members over the past five years, the directors of Australia's biggest 300 companies remain largely male and pale. An in-depth study of ASX 300 companies found the lack of cultural diversity on boards was particularly stark.

    "It is difficult to attract the best people if they can't see themselves reflected at the leadership level," says Macquarie Group director Nicola Wakefield Evans. Janie Barrett

    The proportion of directors from non-Anglo-Celtic cultural backgrounds fell to 5 per cent from 5.4 per cent between 2016 and 2020, the study by the Governance Institute of Australia and Watermark Search International, an executive recruitment firm, found.

    The proportion of board directors from anywhere outside Australia declined to 29.3 per cent from 30.4 per cent over the same period.

    The lack of cultural diversity at the board level reflects a similar pattern at executive levels, with a 2018 report from the Australian Human Rights Commission, University of Sydney, Asia Society Australia and Committee for Sydney noting that only 5.1 per cent of chief executives and senior executives in Australia had a non-European or Indigenous background.

    “More progress needs to be made in Australian boardrooms in this area, particularly given the very global nature of trade and business for domestic entities," said Governance Institute chief executive Megan Motto. “Boards must also realise that as well as being fairer and more representative of the society they operate in and of their workforces, that there is also an increasing resistance to investing in companies with homogeneous boards."

    Harder to understand customers

    Nicola Wakefield Evans, a director of property company LendLease, investment bank Macquarie Group and life insurer MetLife Australia, said that without directors from diversebackgrounds, Australian companies risked finding it harder to understand their customers, manage international supply chains and attract top talent.

    "It is difficult to attract the best people if they can't see themselves reflected at the leadership level," she said. Ms Wakefield Evans also chairs the 30% Club, which campaigns to improve gender diversity on boards.

    Boards, she argued, were failing to reflect the multicultural aspect of Australian society. "You have to have organisations governed in a way that reflects the society," Ms Wakefield Evans said.

    The study found that although the number of companies with 50 per cent or more women on their board had risen to 20 from 16 over the past 12 months, in 2020 less than half the number of ASX 300 boards had more than 30 per cent female directors. This year 29 ASX 300 companies had no women at all.

    The lack of female directors was in spite of their superior qualifications. Watermark Search and the Governance Institute found that 7 per cent of female directors had PhDs, against 4 percent of men, 40 per cent had either an MBA or a masters degree, against 33 per cent of men, and 89 per cent of women directors had an undergraduate degree, compared to 73 per cent of their male counterparts.

    Female directors were also far more likely to have formal governance training. "That an individual has dedicated the time, resources and effort to attain a qualification such as an MBA or PhD speaks volumes and adds a huge amount of value to a board," Ms Motto said.

    "We know that a combination of both experience and ongoing education is essential for those in both a governance professional role, as well as in the boardroom,"

    Ms Wakefield Evans said the difference in education levels could be due to the need for women to be better educated and more experienced to rise up the corporate ladder.

    Sally Patten edits BOSS, and writes about workplace issues. She was Financial Services of the Financial Review and Personal Finance editor of the AFR, Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She edited business news for The Times of London. Connect with Sally on Twitter. Email Sally at spatten@afr.com

    See: https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/leaders/australian-boards-are-male-and-pale-20200519-p54udk

  • 09 May 2020 5:32 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    AALA congratulates Elizabeth Espinosa on her appointment as a Commissioner Public Service Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court

    On 6 May 2020 the Chief Judge announced the appointment of a new Commissioner to the Court.

    Ms Elizabeth Espinosa has been appointed a Commissioner of the Court from 1 June 2020 for a period of 7 years.

    Ms Espinosa's practice as a solicitor spans over 20 years, specialising in local government, planning and environmental law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Wollongong. Ms Espinosa was admitted as an Australian lawyer in June 1997. Ms Espinosa's experience in the Court is wide-ranging. As a solicitor she has appeared in most classes of jurisdiction of the Land and Environment Court. She has extensive experience in local government and in assessment of development applications. In her previous role as General Counsel at Liverpool City Council she was responsible for providing high level legal services and appearing as legal representative in the Court and provided legal advice for Council and Councillors in relation to local government development applications and dealings.

    Ms Espinosa recently has served as the President of the Law Society of NSW, and currently remains a Councillor of the Law Society of NSW. She is also Director of the Corporate Governance Committee of the Law Council of Australia.

    See: http://www.lec.justice.nsw.gov.au/

  • 27 Apr 2020 12:23 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    AALA congratulates Kathrina Lo on her appointment as NSW Public Service Commissioner https://www.themandarin.com.au/130226-kathrina-lo-named-nsw-public-service-commissioner/

  • 27 Apr 2020 12:15 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    From the daughter of refugees to Freehills partner by Michael Pelly, Legal Affairs editor, Australian Financial Review, 24 Apr, 2020

    Christine Tran says her elevation to the partnership of Herbert Smith Freehills this week came as a welcome surprise.

    As COVID-19 bore down on the economy and business started to cut costs, the class actions lawyer said she and others felt their prospects of a promotion – at least for this year – fading.

    "We were concerned – well I certainly was – that they might change their mind. And I think it would have been quite reasonable for them to have done so," Ms Tran said.

    "You're not privy to those decision-making processes, but yeah, I was surprised – and obviously very happy."

    The global firm announced that 26 people had been promoted to partner – four more than 2019 – with eight (four men and four women) in Australia. They include head of pro-bono Brooke Massender, who becomes the firm's first pro-bono partner.

    Christine Tran draws inspiration from her boat-people parents: "Whatever you're facing, it pales in comparison with what they went through."

    Most local firms announce their new partners in June, but it is expected to be slim pickings this year. Minter Ellison, the biggest employer of lawyers in Australia, has already announced that its next round of promotions has been put on hold until January.

    HSF's managing partner in Australia, Andrew Pike, said the firm had taken "a long-term view on partner promotions". "We want to make sure that we have the right people to meet our clients’ needs, both now and into the future."

    A different Australian dream

    Ms Tran is the daughter of Vietnamese parents who escaped by boat as the Vietnam War drew to a close in the mid-1970s. They settled in south-west Sydney and had some basic ambitions for their three children. "The Australian dream was their kids would have an easier life than what they went through,'' Ms Tran said.

    As member of the firm's class actions team since she finished her graduate program 10 years ago, Ms Tran has been working on big-ticket cases such as those filed against AMP following the banking royal commission. She joined Freehills as a summer clerk in 2006 and after a two-year graduate program settled on litigation as her practice area. She gravitated to class actions, with part of the lure being that it was a developing area of law. Aside from the fact she is working from home, Ms Tran says "it's pretty much business as usual". "Litigation funders are still busy and looking for cases to invest in."

    One of the first calls she made was to her parents – dad was a factory worker for a mining company and mum was a homemaker – but she says they are not overly fussed about her being a lawyer. (She has two younger brothers: a physiotherapist and graphic designer.) "They don't really understand what I do, They think it's nice I get to go to an office."

    Ms Tran is proud of the courage they showed to leave their home – on separate journeys – and says it puts her own struggles into perspective. Her father arranged passage, but only on the condition that he brought along women and children who were related to the boat owner. He landed in the Philippines and then caught a plane to Australia. "He only told me the story recently,'' Ms Tran says. "I can't imagine it. He had to go through the cover of night, through a jungle with them and get on a boat ... "I think it helps to give you a bit of courage because whatever you're facing, it pales in comparison with what they went through."






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