Our time as members of the 2020 Progressive Law Network committee is coming to an end. It’s been an incredibly strange year, and certainly an unprecedented and challenging one. We’ve taken some time to reflect on the incredible work of our team who have gone above and beyond to create intelligent and thoughtful events. Over the year, we’ve generated discussion about topical issues that we, as a student body, care about, issues that impact us in the present and future. We hope that you’ve taken a thing or two from these discussions. We hope that you use that knowledge to advocate for positive social change within the law.
We started off the year with….
Climate Justice Action Panel
Featuring stellar guest speakers Dr. Michelle Maloney (Australian Earth Laws Alliance), Bronya Lipski (Environmental Justice Australia) and Dr Keely Boom (Climate Justice Australia), the panel was an invigorating reminder to not stay complacent with our activism during these complicated times.
COVID-19 and the Law: Human Rights and Democracy
At this event, we got the inside scoop on what public law experts have to say on what COVID-19 means for human rights, the functioning of democracy and the future of the progressive law movement. We were joined by Tamar Hopkins (FKCLC Police Accountability Project), George Williams AO (UNSW Dean of Law) and Tim Lo Surdo (Democracy in Colour) as Lee Strike was unable to make the event.
Policy Essay Competition
This year the policy essay competition offered insight into society’s hottest topics and revealed the diverse and intricate concerns of law students, at all stages of their studies.
Via our policy essay competition topic, ‘What is the most important public interest law issue of this new decade?’, we learnt about biosecurity failures, content moderation and the need for an Australian Human Rights Charter, among other things.
Read the top 5 essays on our blog!
PLN at O-Fest
This was an opportunity to hear about what the PLN does and what different opportunities there are to be involved in ‘progressive law’ while at university. Later-year law students shared about different experiences they have had and answer any questions
We hosted a young lawyer working in refugee and asylum seeker law: Laura Chalk. Laura is a solicitor at the ASRC. Laura shared some insights on their career and offer advice. Laura shared some current challenges facing refugees and asylum seekers in light of COVID-19.
R U OK 2020: Mental Health in a Global Pandemic
This discussion took the opportunity of R U OK? Day 2020 to have a closer look at the mental health impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic. The questions addressed included: s current mental health policy adequate in today’s environment? What issues must mental health services and policy makers be most aware of in their response to present conditions? What is to be done to ensure mental health services are wide-reaching and effective in Australia going forward
To tackle these questions we were joined by Christian Lane (co-founder of ‘A Reasonable Standard’), Dr Jessica Dean, (Director at Beyond Blue and intensive care specialist), Stuart Wilson (Program Coordinator at the Ecological Justice Hub and architect), and Michael McGarvie (Senior Project Advisor at Jesuit Social Services and lawyer).
Virtual ‘Book’ Club
This year we joined forces with the Deakin Law Alternative (DLA) to host a monthly ‘Book’ Club. The concept was simple: reading material on a chosen topic was assigned and then we gathered over Zoom with an expert or two to discuss it and the broader theme. During the first instalment, we talked about the impact of gender and sexuality on refugee claims with Dr Brandy Cochrane (Victoria University) and Emily Singh (ASRC).
For the second instalment, we were joined by Justin Hannebery QC to the implications of the Pell judgment and the scope for law reform.
The third instalment tackled the legal issues surrounding commercial surrogacy and baby markets with Dr Dominique Martin and Professor Britta Van Beers.
Public Interest Law Careers Guide Launch
The Progressive Law Network were incredibly excited to launch the Public Interest Law Careers Guide, in conjunction with the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. It was also a privilege to present the Beyond Commercial Careers event as part of our launch.
We were able to hear valuable insights on the night from our speakers: Professor the Hon. Kevin Bell, Zione Walker-Nthenda and David Manne. It was fantastic to hear their unique perspectives and learn from their vast experiences.
To access the Careers Guide, click here!
Public Interest Careers Mentoring Program
Spearheaded by our amazing Careers team, the Progressive Law Network launched our first ever Public Interest Careers Mentoring Program. This ongoing mentoring program matches experienced mentors with students who are looking to work in public interest and non-commercial pathways. Mentors hold a wealth of diverse skills and experiences in areas such as community legal, migration law, pro bono case work, academia and policy. Mentees gain knowledge about professional opportunities, skills in application writing and new networks and contacts with industry professionals.
We had been missing the social connection that comes with being on campus and catching up with the PLN community on the regular, so the Progressive Law Network got together for a social chat and games night. We had a yarn about all things progressive law and student life. It was a great opportunity to meet all our members and have fun!
Black Lives Matter
The recent Black Lives Matter movement and the #abolishpolice protests a have gained momentum globally in Australia. We are devastated that it once again took the public and tragic deaths of more Black lives, to remind us of how the legal system fails Black people every day. Not enough is being done to enact change in the structures in which racial violence, particularly against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, exist. We want and need to do better.The Progressive Law Network and Public Interest Law Network will be bringing together panellists to discuss the legal implications of the Black Lives Matter movement in Australia. The panel will focus on the question: “What does a legal system where Black Lives Matter look like?”. We were joined by Teela Reid and Douglas Booth.
Sexism and the Law
Sexism is endemic in the legal profession and has been since its inception. This manifests in many way. Patriarchal ideals and structural biases reinforce a culture in which the allegations against Dyson Heydon surfaced.
We discussed this and more with Kathleen Foley (barrister, writer and past Associate to Justice Hayne), Molina Asthana (Vice President of the National Executive of Asian Australian Lawyers Association) and Josh Bornstein (National Head of Maurice Blackburn’s Employment and Industrial Law Department).
Thank you for engaging and connecting with us throughout the year!
The Progressive Law Network