The highlight of the year so far for me has been the Law Week Dinner on 13 May 2015 (which was completely booked out), and in particular Rosie Batty’s inspiring speech, and the audience’s reaction to it.
Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, is a tireless campaigner against domestic violence, and spoke powerfully about her experiences in the legal system in the years before her son, Luke, was killed by his father.
Rosie spoke about how alien the legal system seemed to her, as an intelligent, educated, self-represented party. She spoke of “patchy” responses (some good, some very bad) and the “hit and miss” nature of responses. She talked of the need for coordinated risk assessment processes, and of her great (but short-lived) relief, when a Magistrate took control of her matter and extended the protection order she sought to include Luke. She also spoke of broader issues, and the importance of gender equality to addressing family violence. She concluded her speech with a call to rally to support women’s and community legal centres, which provide such a vital service in domestic violence matters. You could hear a pin drop!
Afterwards the room was abuzz with talk about what she had said. The wonderful Noor Blumer, former President of the Law Society, then spontaneously rallied everyone to raise the funds needed to replace the $30,000 in funding which the Women’s Legal Centre is likely to lose as a result of lower interest rates on trust funds. New Executive Director of the Women’s Legal Centre, Elena Rosenman, was introduced to the audience. Noor and Elena then received pledges from individuals and law firms of approximately $22,000. Rosie told me she was very moved by the reaction.
I felt very proud to be a member of the ACT legal community- not just because of the money that was raised, but also because of the evident willingness to embrace and learn from Rosie’s messages.
Juliet Behrens is a Senior Associate at DDCS Lawyers, 18 Kendall Lane, NewActon, Canberra ACT 2601 and can be contacted on (02) 6212 7600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.