This year the annual Law Week Dinner, hosted by WLA ACT, was held at The Boathouse in Barton. We were delighted to have Catherine McGregor AM, 2016 Nominee for Australian of the Year as our guest speaker at the event. We were also delighted to be joined by members of the Judiciary, the Bar, the ACT Law Society and practitioners.
In 2015 Catherine was named as Queenslander of the Year, before becoming a finalist for Australian of the year in 2016 for her work in the LGBTI sphere. This recognition came following an exceptional career in the Australian Army and as a cricket writer and commentator. Catherine is now a high profile advocate for the LGBTI community. Catherine discussed her struggles with mental health and personal identity before coming out as identifying as having gender dysphoria, and identifying as a woman.
Of particular importance to Catherine’s personal story was the role which the international cricket community played in accepting her after her decision to come out as transgender. This too was the case in the Army, with Catherine becoming the highest ranking transgender person in the Defence Force.
Catherine’s presentation served as a reminder of the importance of championing support and inclusion in our workplaces and community. Had Catherine not experienced the level of acceptance and support from those around her, particularly on a professional level, her story may have been catastrophically different.
Catherine’s presentation invoked self-reflection about the role which communities and workplaces have to play in ensuring social inclusion and diversity, and the negative mental health consequences which may occur should this support not be offered. As a profession we are, on a regular basis, faced with situations in which we are dealing with vulnerable clients. How often do we stop and think about how we may need to serve and support our colleagues and friends with any mental health issues they may have?
Catherine’s bravery was underpinned by her wonderful sense of humour, talent with words and zest for life. WLA ACT thanks her for her presentation and contribution to the LGBTI community.
WLA ACT wishes to thank Maurice Blackburn Lawyers for their support and sponsorship again this year. Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have been a much valued sponsor of WLA ACT in the past and the Committee looks forward to working with them in the future.
Our Committee member Kim Back is a member of the Maurice Blackburn Women’s Group and has been supported professionally to manage two young children and her career through flexible working conditions and techniques to assist working women.
Kim is an outstanding example of the success of the program and the benefit of employees working with their employers to ensure that they are able to succeed as carers and professionals.