Conference tickets now available!

The Conference continues to be a unique and evolving event. This year we bring together community leaders to address the current political landscape, and challenge and inspire progressive law reform. We also introduce a range of innovative new workshopsYou will again have the chance to speak to all our panelists one-on-one over shared lunch and snacks.  

Friday 5 September 9AM – 4PM Theatre GO8 | Melbourne Law School | 185 Pelham Street | Carlton VIC 3O53

Tickets Concession $50 | Community Groups $80 | Professionals $100  

You will receive a receipt email from PayPal on purchase.

If you have any difficulty with purchase, contact progressivelawnetwork[at]

Ron Merkel QC returned to practice at the Bar in 2006 after ten years as a Judge at the Federal Court of Australia. It is impossible to adequately outline Ron’s experience in public interest law. At the time of this post, he is leading a team in the High Court on behalf of around 150 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, challenging the Australian Government’s detention and processing of their asylum claims on the high seas. Just two of the many cases Ron has appeared in are:

> Eatock v Bolt, in which nine Aboriginal people who successfully claimed that Andrew Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times had published articles in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act;
> Roach v Australian Electoral Commission and the Commonwealth, a landmark High Court case which established constitutional protection of the right to vote and returned the vote to an estimated 8,000 prisoners.

Amongst the positions Ron has held are Founding Member of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Foundation Member of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre.

Prisons, addiction and mental health. This panel will address how the law can remove individual autonomy in unexpected or overlooked areas of the law and in the administration of justice.
Debbie Kilroy Sisters Inside Inc.
Dr Kate Seear Monash University and National Drug Research Institute

Increasing withdrawal of political and financial support from green initiatives and the ever-increasing power of the private sector leave us asking, ‘where to from here’ for environmental protection? This panel will present innovative ways of answering this question. 
Brendan Sydes Environmental Justice Australia
Danae Bosler Public Transport Not Traffic
Darren Parker Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin University

This innovative range of workshops, run by experts in their fields, is new to the conference. You will be able to choose to attend one of the following workshops, which will not only inspire you, but arm you with practical skills to use the law for positive social change, everyday. 
Gabriella Bornstein – The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Refugee rights everyday: how to have a difficult conversation 
Anthony Kelly – Flemington & Kensington Legal Centre Civil disobedience and the law: for activists and lawyers 
Shatha Hamade – Animals Australia Finding a voice for animals: how to read food labelling
Tanja Kovac – Emily’s List Gender equality and pay equity: how to negotiate pay equity



What are we up to?

Wondering what we’ve been up to over the past few months? We’ve been busy…

  • organising our 2014 Legal (r)Evolution Conference, which will be held on Friday the 5th September – remember to save the date!
  • catching up with new members at our social event in February
  • connecting with students beginning their law career at the La Trobe University Careers Fair

and much more! Our branch at Monash University Clayton has also been especially active, hosting a Careers Information Night, talk on civil liberties, and a regular Social Justice Reading Group.

Interested in finding out more about our current activities? Just check out our PLN Newsletter for May, or contact us at

The PLN in 2014!

Interested in being involved in the Progressive Law Network in 2014? Keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter for details of our activities – planning is already underway for a number of events so come along and see what you can do!

Our next meetings are:

  • City Branch: 30th January, 5.45pm, at Monash Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale St
  • Melbourne East (Monash) Branch: regular meetings will not commence until Monash University Semester 1; in the meantime contact for details
  • National conference planning: dates for the next conference planning meetings will be posted on our website and social media

If you are interested in coming along to any of these meetings, or just want some further information, contact our Membership Liaison Officer, Josephine, at

If you’re interested in becoming a member, or need to renew your membership, you can do so here.

We hope to see you soon!


Christmas Conversations Dinner, November 20

The City Branch of the Progressive Law Network is holding an exciting Christmas Conversations Dinner this November at the Social Studio, Fitzroy. The night will be a relaxed affair, an intimate dinner with wine, food and conversation between like minds. It will include African Singing Lessons and give you the opportunity to speak one on one with our special guests, to ask about their experiences in human rights law and how it has shaped their careers.

Barrister Jessie Taylor is a human rights enthusiast, an advocate for refugees in Australia and is a foster mum to an Afghan refugee teenage boy. Her experiences have given her a breadth of knowledge and expertise in Refugee and Human Rights law. These include an associate position to Justice Bromberg of the Federal Court, Secretary of Liberty Victoria, former chair of the Law Institute of Victoria’s Refugee Reform Commission and former executive member of the Law Institute Victoria Administration and Human Rights Law sector. In addition to this she is a writer who has published a book about the conditions of detention centres and co-written and produced two films, ‘We will Be Remembered’ and ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.’

Ben Schokman is the Director of International Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre. He is a front runner in the centers engagement with the United Nations especially in relation to Indigenous Rights, disability rights and prisoner and detainee rights. He has extensive experience in a range of both national and international NGOs and Human Rights Institutions.

We are proud to support The Social Studio, a not-for-profit organisation situated in Fitzroy that strives to raise awareness and change the perception of those who have experienced being a refugee. The organisation provides teaching, education and employment opportunities to people from a migrant background. All the income raised by this great corporation is invested into creating social benefit prospects for the staff, students and their communities. To find our more about their Food, Fashion and Studio visit

The Social Studio, 128 Smith St, Collingwood

7pm for a 7.30 start

November 20

Cost: $60 per member (three course meal accompanied by wine)

This is designed to be an intimate event and numbers remaining are limited. If you wish to secure your spot please reply by e-mail to

And now?

Like non-government organisations all over Australia in the past months, the members of the Progressive Law Network have been seriously considering the ramifications of last weekend’s federal election, and what a Coalition government means for our work in public interest law and reform.

Others have criticised the Coalition’s policies – on refugees, on the carbon tax, on cutting legal funding – far more eloquently than we are able to here.

However, we feel that it is important to acknowledge at this point that each of these policy revisions only serve to highlight the need for the PLN’s work. We aim to forge connections between legal students and professionals who are interested in these areas, interested in acting to protect the rights of minorities and the under-represented in Australian society – whether this be related to the rights of refugees, indigenous people, people in rural, regional and remote communities – and interested in working together to create sustainable legal reforms.

The next three years will present a challenge for all those seeking to contribute to this kind of work. However, it isn’t an insurmountable challenge. With your help, the PLN can continue connecting like-minded people across the legal profession.

So, what can you do? Get involved – like our Facebook page, send us an email at, and come along to your local branch meetings. We’re currently planning our 2014 Legal (r)Evolution Conference, as well as other smaller events, and would love to have your input. Every little thing makes a difference.

The PLN team

Progressive Law Network – Career Kick Start!

Come along to the Progressive Law Network’s Career Kick-start at Monash University and get real-life advice from final year students and graduates on what you need to do, when you need to do it and where you can look for opportunities:

· Discover the Castan Centre/PLN Public Interest Law Careers Guide
· Find out about Judicial Associate work
· Get the lowdown on Practical Legal Training
· Learn about the benefits of Barrister Shadowing
· Go bush, young lawyer – Remote/Rural/Regional lawyering
· Access useful resources to kick-start your own research

18 September 4.30 – 6pm
L2 Lecture theatre, Law Building (Blg 12)
Monash Clayton Campus





Fed up with Clerkship applications? Not sure you want to work for a commercial law firm anyway?

Wondering what you’re doing with your life and if you’ll ever find work which is rewarding and meaningful?

Or maybe you are ready to throw off the corporate shackles and be home in time for dinner?

There are many opportunities for lawyers in non-profit organisations, statutory bodies and government in Victoria but it’s often hard to find out what they are. This new guide, funded by the Victoria Law Foundation, will present dozens of organisations for you to consider, plus testimonials from people who’ve made a career in public interest law work.

The Progressive Law Careers Guide is an online resource, and the launch will be interactive, with the chance for you to navigate through it on the evening.

Find out what else is out there!

Guest speakers:

  •         Jill Prior, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service,
  •         Felicity Millner, Environment Defenders Office
  •         Victorian Public Service Graduate Scheme.

The Guide aims to educate students and professionals about the Public Interest Law sector and provide much needed information on how best to pursue a career in Public Interest Law. The Guide is also a useful resource for secondary school careers counsellors.

FREE EVENT: 5.30pm Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Monash University Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale St,  Melbourne




The Progressive Law Network wants you! Join at

Careers in Collaborative Practice Information Night – Wed 5 June 2013

The Law Institute of Victoria (‘LIV’) and the Progressive Law Network will be co running a free ‘Careers in Collaborative Practice’ Information Night for law students, newly admitted practitioners and junior lawyers. The purpose of the event is to:

·         To provide information to law students, newly admitted practitioners and junior lawyers about career options in alternative dispute resolution;

·         To provide information to law students, newly admitted practitioners and junior lawyers about careers particularly in collaborative practice;

·         To provide an opportunity for law students, newly admitted practitioners and junior lawyers interested in collaborative practice to meet collaboratively trained professionals such as lawyers, financial planners and psychologists;

·         To provide a forum of discussion between law students, newly admitted practitioners, junior lawyers, lawyers interested in collaborative practice and collaboratively trained professionals;

·         To raise awareness in the Victorian legal profession of collaborative practice as a viable alternative dispute resolution option;

·         To shift the mindset of intermediate to senior legal practitioners trained in the adversarial model to a collaborative approach;

·         To market the postgraduate unit, LAW 7474 Collaborative Practice offered at Monash University to law students to provide a theoretical understanding of collaborative practice; and

·         To promote the LIV’s professional membership association, Collaborative Professionals Victoria ‘CPV’ which oversees Practice Groups which law students, newly admitted practitioners and junior lawyers can join.

The event has been scheduled to take place on Wednesday 5 June 2013 from 5.30pm – 7.00pm at the LIV Lecture Theatre.

Panellists will include:

1.    Chair – Jialing Chen, Progressive Law Network;

2.    Jane Libbis, Family Lawyer, Collaborative Practitioner, member of Collaborative Practice Section Executive Committee and Collaborative Professionals Victoria;

3.    Peter Lustig, Lawyer, Collaborative Practitioner, Mediator, member of Collaborative Practice Section Executive Committee and Collaborative Professionals Victoria;

4.    Danielle Lundberg, Psychologist, Collaborative Practitioner, Mediator, member of Collaborative Practice Section Executive Committee and Collaborative Professionals Victoria; and

5.    Susan Jackson, Financial Advisor, Founder and Executive Director, Women’s Financial Network, Collaborative Practitioner and member of Collaborative Professionals Victoria.

You can register online via the link below:

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to speak to Katrina Koniuszko, Lawyer, Collaborative Practice Section at or (03) 9607 9389 or Kate Wild, Paralegal, Collaborative Practice Section at or (03) 0607 9443.