What are we not talking about?
Join the ACT Law Society’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee for a free series of virtual lunchtime chats about the elephant in the room – how do we go about achieving an inclusive and diverse legal profession?
Every month, a new speaker will introduce a topic and lead a discussion with participants.
These informal webchats will also be an opportunity for legal professionals and law students who are interested in inclusion and diversity issues to connect with like-minded peers.
An inclusive legal profession (Thursday 10 December 2020, 12.30-1pm) — To celebrate International Day of People with Disability, Dominic Cookman of Snedden Hall & Gallop’s migration team, Matthew Di Caterina, a paralegal at Coulter Roach and law student, and Farzana Choudhury from Canberra Community Law’s Disability Discrimination Law Service will present this webinar. We will discuss the challenges that lawyers with disability may come across in their professional life, ways to make your legal practice more inclusive for lawyers and clients with disability, and communication strategies and options for clients with disability.
Members may choose to claim CPD points as per the CPD Guidelines.
For more inclusion and diversity resources, visit our “Inclusion, diversity, and flexibility” webpage.
If you are interested in presenting at a What are we not talking about? online chat session, please send an email to Carissa.Webster@actlawsociety.asn.au.
|10 December - An inclusive legal profession
The Disability Royal Commission, and supporting clients with a disability
(Thursday 13 August 2020, 12.30-1pm)
The ACT Law Society Inclusion & Diversity Committee’s first ‘What are we not talking about?’ webinar will provide an overview of the Disability Royal Commission, which was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability. Zara O’Sullivan, ACT Jurisdictional Solicitor for Your Story Disability Support, will be presenting. Discussion will cover the processes for engaging with the Disability Royal Commission, the legislation governing the Commission processes, and provide guidance on how to help people with a disability tell their story to the Commission.
Reflections on the ACT Intermediary Program, and support for vulnerable witnesses
(Thursday 10 September 2020, 12.30-1pm)
Intermediaries impartially assist witnesses who have communication difficulties, primarily children, and people with disabilities and cognitive impairment. Kath Taplin, Head of the ACT’s Intermediary Program, will discuss the Program, including an explanation of the law allowing intermediaries, and outline of the program. She will also give examples of the techniques used by intermediaries to allow police, lawyers and courts to elicit the best evidence from the witness, and offer some reflections on the program’s operation since commencement in January 2020.
Homelessness and the law
(Thursday 8 October 2020, 12.30-1pm)
In the leadup to Anti-Poverty Week 2020, Street Law, an outreach legal service for people experiencing or at risk of homeless, will be discussing homelessness laws. Street Law will provide an overview of the specific challenges that people facing homelessness have in accessing legal support; some of the legal issues that people facing homelessness commonly deal with; and how to identify if a person facing homelessness has a legal issue.
Intersectional diversity and the legal profession
(Thursday 12 November 2020, 12.30-1pm)
Intersectionality is a framework which recognises that people may be affected by multiple overlapping identities and social characteristics, which can lead to complex levels of inequality or privilege. In this webinar, our panel — Emma Towney from Canberra Community Law, Ishani Das from the Department of Human Services, and ANU Law student Ono Chowdhury — will focus on intersectionality in the legal profession, and the ways in which legal services can better support lawyers and clients from a range of backgrounds and with intersecting social and cultural identities.
An inclusive legal profession
(Thursday 10 December 2020, 12.30-1pm)
To celebrate International Day of People with Disability, Dominic Cookman of Snedden Hall & Gallop’s migration team, Matthew Di Caterina, a paralegal at Coulter Roach and law student, and Farzana Choudhury from Canberra Community Law’s Disability Discrimination Law Service will present this webinar. We will discuss the challenges that lawyers with disability may come across in their professional life, ways to make your legal practice more inclusive for lawyers and clients with disability, and communication strategies and options for clients with disability.
Farzana Choudhury, Canberra Community Law
Farzana Choudhury is the Disability Discrimination Law Senior Solicitor at Canberra Community Law. Farzana provides provide advice, casework and advocacy assistance to people facing disadvantage in relation to disability discrimination and related complaints. Farzana is passionate about access to justice for people experiencing disadvantage, which she has channelled through establishing a legal education and advice clinic for women in prison and a health justice partnership young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Farzana is also a 2019 Churchill Fellow and will be investigating poverty based discrimination law as part of her Fellowship. Farzana is a member of the ACT Law Society Inclusion and Diversity Committee and is thrilled to have been involved in establishing the "What are we not talking about?" webinar series.
Ono Chowdhury, DEiFY
Ono Chowdhury (they/them) is the founder of DEiFY. This collective celebrates and centres the resilience, joy, sadness, rage and power of Queer, Transgender and Intersex Bla(c)k and People of Colour residing on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country. The group has been successful in receiving funding from the Capital of Equality Grants (2020) and the Mental Health Community Coalition ACT. These funded projects include a Sex & Relationship Event Series and launch of the Coming Home Zine, a publication exploring the mental health experiences of LGBT+ Bla(c)k and People of Colour. Ono is also partnering with Tuggeranong Arts Centre to curate an exhibition for April 2021 to challenge how the colonial imagination has erased, criminalised and othered queer bodies of colour. As a person of Bangladeshi heritage and trans experience, they aim to harness the collective stories of queer Bla(c)k and brown individuals to deliver an intersectional and grassroots approach to their community work. They are currently studying at the Australian National University and have an avid interest in employing queer, critical race theory, and feminist frameworks to the law.
Stephanie Booker, Canberra Community Law
Stephanie is the Street Law Program Manager and Solicitor at Canberra Community Law. Stephanie has worked in Street Law since March 2020. Steph became a lawyer in October 2006, and since this time has practiced in personal injury, immigration law, international human rights and environmental law, Indigenous land rights and native title, and environmental law. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts/Law from Macquarie University, and a Master of Laws from Monash University.
Dominic Cookman, Snedden Hall & Gallop
Dominic Cookman is a member of Snedden Hall & Gallop’s migration team, advising and assisting clients in many areas relating to the Department of Immigration’s visa application processes. He has a specialty in advising visa applicants with disabilities. Dominic graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws. He has tutored in Torts and Administrative Law at the ANU Faculty of Law. For over 9 years he was a member of the board of the ACT Disability, Aged & Carer Advocacy Service. Dominic is a member of the ACT Law Society Inclusion & Diversity Committee.
Matthew Di Caterina
Matthew Di Caterina is a final year law student at Flinders University, his previous studies include undertakings at The University of Oxford and The London School of Economics. He is proud to identify as having a disability. Matthew is currently employed within the Litigation and Workplace Relations team at Coulter Roache (Geelong, Victoria) and Equality Lawyers (Adelaide, South Australia), a firm which specialises in disability discrimination, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Guardianship and Administration and Social Security. Over the summer Matthew was a Summer Intern at the Attorney-General’s Department (Canberra) within the Family Law team.
Zara O’Sullivan, Legal Aid ACT
Zara O’Sullivan is a solicitor at Legal Aid ACT, and the ACT Jurisdictional Solicitor for Your Story Disability Support. Your Story is free independent legal support for people with disability, their families, carers, supporters and advocates who want to tell their story to the Disability Royal Commission.
Erin Rikus, Canberra Community Law
Erin has been a Street Law Solicitor since 2018, where she works with clients experiencing and at risk of homelessness through casework and at outreach services. She has been a long-term volunteer lawyer with Canberra Community Law’s Night -Time Legal Advice Service (NTLAS). While completing her studies, Erin was employed by Legal Aid ACT, where, recognising a significant gap in services for refugees and asylum seekers, she worked with the General Practice and volunteer migration agents to establish Legal Aid ACT’s first migration clinic. Erin has also experienced a secondment with the ACT Human Rights Commission working in the Discrimination, Disability, Community and Health Services team, and has a particular interest in helping protect vulnerable clients from discrimination, particularly in developing areas for the ACT such as accommodation status.
Kath Taplin, ACT Human Rights Commission
Kath Taplin has practiced in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. After starting her career as a NSW Supreme Court Judge’s Associate and then the NSW Supreme Court Commercial Law Researcher, she worked at Minter Ellison’s Canberra and Melbourne offices in their litigation and alternative dispute resolution practices. She has been Principal Solicitor, Solicitor and program designer in Australian community legal centres and has also been engaged by the Australian Government to design and evaluate law and justice, family violence, child protection and social inclusion initiatives for multiple neighbouring Pacific Island countries. Kath now leads the implementation of the ACT’s Intermediary Program at the ACT Human Rights Commission working with criminal justice and child protection stakeholders.
Emma Towney, Canberra Community Law
Emma Towney is a Solicitor within the Dhurrawang Aboriginal Human Rights Program and has been working at Canberra Community Law since March 2019. Emma’s role within Dhurrawang consists of providing advice and representation to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the ACT on Housing problems in the ACT, Centrelink problems and Race discrimination. Emma is also the chair of Canberra Community Law’s RAP Working Group. She is a proud Wiradjuri woman who grew up on Wonnarua Country in the hunter region of NSW, before moving to Ngunnawal Country in 2012 to take up a legal graduate position in a Commonwealth Department. Emma is currently a member of the ACT Law Society Access to Justice and Human Rights Committee and the chair of the ACT Law Society Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sub-committee.