Members of the Victorian Bar Association are in Papua New Guinea as part of a new initiative to support and mentor women in the legal profession.
The Victorian Bar has joined forces with the PNG Legal Training Institute to develop the two day mentoring program, ‘Empowering Women in the Law in PNG’, as part of the association’s commitment to supporting the development of the profession in the Asia Pacific region.
“Mentoring women lawyers as they navigate their way through the legal profession is as important for women in PNG as it is in Australia,” said Victorian barrister Christine Melis.
“Assisting, promoting, advancing women's careers in the law and challenging barriers that limit women's participation in the legal profession, will go some way in diversifying and strengthening the legal profession within our region.”
Melis said the program gives students the opportunity to share their experiences and to come up with strategies to combat discrimination, cultural and societal expectations that may be a barrier to career advancement.
“The Victorian Bar has a long and proud tradition of supporting the development of advocacy skills in the Asia Pacific region,” said Victorian Bar President Jim Peters QC.
“Over the past decades, our members have proudly committed thousands of pro bono hours to supporting our colleagues in the emerging professions in our neighbouring countries.”
The program will match newly admitted women with mentors from the Bar to help build confidence in the new lawyers. Over the course of the coming weekend, program participants will hear from a number of high profile lawyers including Australian Bar Association President and barrister Fiona McLeod SC and Supreme Court of Victoria Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, along with Dame Carol Kidu, a former PNG politician.
“This program supports the professional development of our colleagues in the profession in developing their skills and understanding of legal ethics, leadership, advocacy styles, and the importance of tackling the issues of discrimination, harassment in the workplace,” said Peters.
The program will be officially attended in Port Moresby by representatives of the Australian High Commission, the Victorian Bar and the PNG Legal Training Institute.