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.

Legal (r)Evolution Conference this FRIDAY! Don’t miss out, buy your ticket now!

Make sure you buy your tickets before you miss out! The conference is THIS FRIDAY 15 MARCH 2013. This years conference is about People. Planet. Project.Our People Panel will discuss Gene Patenting, the Planet Panel will look into Corporate Environmental Responsibility, and our Project Panel will focus on Building Grassroots Social Justice Programs.

All attendees will be provided with food throughout the day including a wonderful lunch provided by Original Foods, one of our brilliant sponsors. All attendees are also provided with a showbag and will have the opportunity to speak with our speakers in a continued discussion space after their presentations.

Buy Your Ticket Through Paypal: 

Ticket Options
Dietary Requirements
Name and Phone Number:

The Showbag Included:

PLN Conference Showbags 2 Legal Revolution


KEYNOTE: Helen Versey, Victorian Privacy Commissioner 2007-2012 and acting principal lawyer at the Mental Health Legal Centre

PLANET: Corporate environmental responsibility
David Ritter, Greenpeace Australia
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth
Presentation by International Fund for Animal Welfare

PROJECT: Building grassroots social justice programs
Bob Brown, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Roger Antochi and Melissa Hardham, Second Step Program
Denis Nelthorpe, Taxi Driver Legal Clinic

PEOPLE: Gene patenting – our rights to our bodies
Rebecca Gilsenan, Maurice Blackburn
Luigi Palombi, Genetic Sequence Rights Project at Australian National University
Gerda Evans, Breast Cancer Network Australia

With very special thanks to our sponsors:

Australian Green Victoria

Patrick Carroll, Patrick Carroll Design

Paul McLeod, Cybersphere



KEYNOTE: Helen Versey, Victorian Privacy Commissioner 2007-2012 and acting principal lawyer at the Mental Health Legal Centre

PHOTO_Helen Versey

Helen Versey was the second Victorian Privacy Commissioner, her five-year term running from 2007-2012. She worked in the Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner as Deputy Commissioner from 2001 from the time the Office was established.

Prior to joining the Commission, Helen worked at the Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission as Senior Lawyer and from time to time Acting Commissioner. Helen also worked in private practice in Perth, Darwin and the UK.

At present Helen is the Principal Lawyer at the Mental Health Law Centre.



David Ritter - Chief Executive Officer, Greenpeace Australia Pacific

David RitterChief Executive Officer, Greenpeace Australia Pacific

David was born in Perth, WA in 1971, growing up and going to school in the local foothills. He studied arts and law at the University of WA, graduating with honours in both. In 1995 David was appointed Associate to his Honour Justice Robert French, then Justice of the Federal Court of Australia. In 1999 David was recruited to the position of Principal Legal Officer of the Yamatji Marlpa Land Council.  In a successful tenure of exactly 2200 days, David had overall carriage of some of the most significant cases and negotiations in the native title system.

In late 2007, David moved to London and joined the campaign staff of Greenpeace UK where he worked on issues related to destructive and over-fishing, deforestation of the world’s rainforests and climate change.  In 2012, David returned to Australia to become CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. Highly active in social democratic politics in both Australia and the United Kingdom, David was the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Parliamentary candidate for the safe Liberal seat of Pearce in the election of 2004.  David is married to Frances Flanagan.  They live in Sydney and have two daughters.

Isabel McRae – Ocean Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare

Isabel McCrea, Regional Director, IFAW OceaniaIsabel leads her team in campaigning against whaling and illegal wildlife trade and for the protection of animals and their habitats.  Isabel received her Bachelor degree in Psychology and Sociology from Stirling University, UK.  Isabel has worked with a number of different Australian and international organisations, including the World Bank, the White Ribbon Foundation and Greenpeace International.

Founded in 1969, the IFAW saves individual animals, animal populations and habitats all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, whether it’s dogs and cats, wildlife and livestock, or rescuing animals in the wake of disasters.  Within Australia the IFAW Oceania team is working to protect critical tropical marine wildlife habitat in the northwest from the effects of exploration and drilling for oil and gas. Rescuing wild and domestic animals from both natural and manmade disasters is another important aspect of the Oceania office’s work. In the Pacific, the team is involved in training frontline customs officers in wildlife trade enforcement.

Cam Walker - Campaigns Co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth

cam walkerCam has worked with Friends of the Earth (FoE) since 1989 as the campaigns co-ordinator and has been involved in many environmental and social justice campaigns during this time from the local to national level.

He helps represent the organisation at the national level, working with government, industry, unions, Indigenous and community organisations. He spent six years on the Executive Committee of Friends of the Earth International. During this time, Cam attended many meetings of international conventions and treaties (mostly on the issues of climate change, ozone depletion, the Commission for Sustainable Development and Biodiversity) and travelled and worked extensively with NGOs and local communities in Latin America, Europe and, most recently Africa.



Bob Brown – Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Bob brownBob Brown was born and educated in rural NSW and worked as a doctor before becoming the face of the campaign to save the Franklin River in 1982.

He was elected to the Tasmanian state parliament in 1982 and during his ten-year tenure most notably achieved gun law reform, gay law reform and the expansion of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area.

In 1996 Bob was elected to the Senate, where he led the national debate for 16 years on issues including climate change, water, preventative healthcare, conservation, and human rights.

Bob resigned from the Senate in June 2012 to establish the Bob Brown Foundation, a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting environmental campaigns and green causes in Australia and our region.  He is a published author and acclaimed photographer.

Roger Antochi - National Coordinator, Toll Group’s Second Step program

Roger AntochiRoger is a qualified Alcohol and other Drugs/Mental Health worker and is also a qualified Community Welfare worker.

Toll Group’s Second Step program provides career pathways for people who have been incarcerated and/or have had addiction problems. Roger’s involvement with the program began as a participant, having experienced his own difficulties with homelessness, addiction and imprisonment.

As well as working full-time for the Toll Group in this unique role he also lectures on a part-time basis in the Community Health and Welfare Studies sector.

Roger is an active volunteer for a number of charitable organisations assisting with fundraising and acting as a mentor to disadvantaged youth in the community.

On a personal note Roger enjoys his fitness with a special interest in coaching boxing and presents motivational talks to school groups and disadvantaged, at-risk youth.

Melissa Hardham - Board Director, First Step Program

melissa hardhamMelissa Hardham commenced her career as a criminal lawyer in 1995. From 1996 Melissa worked as in in-house advocate at the Office of David Grace QC predominately in the appellate jurisdictions. In 2000 she was tasked with the implementation and operation of a pro bono human rights and anti-discrimination legal service within a disability support program, DEAC.

In 2003 Melissa returned to the Office of David Grace QC for a further 5 years until she resigned in 2008 to focus on the implementation and operation of the First Step Legal Service, a pro bono criminal law service, within the First Step Program.

In 2011 she worked with Noel Pearson at Cape York Partnerships to advise on the adaption and implementation of the First Step Program and the Toll Second Step Program.

In addition to her role with the First Step Program, Melissa currently holds the role of Indigenous Engagement Manager with the Toll Group. She is also Director of the First Step Legal Service. Further, Melissa is a member of the Australian Advocacy Health Alliance Steering Committee.

Professor Denis Nelthorpe, AM

Denis nelthorpeDenis is a special projects lawyer with Victoria Legal Aid and Manager of Footscray and Wyndham Legal Centres. He is a consumer Board member of the Financial Ombudsman Service and was recently appointed an Adjunct Professor of Law for the Victoria University Law School.

He is a past president of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia and a past Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Credit Legal Service 1986-91 and the Consumer Law Centre Victoria 1993-98.

Denis has been involved in the work of community legal centres for more than 30 years and remains passionate about the need for justice for low income and disadvantaged members of the community.

Matthew Albert, found of the Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning program (SAIL)

Matthew Albert - updatedMatthew Albert is the co-founder of the Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning program (SAIL). The program is a volunteer, non-profit, secular organisation that provides free English support & community services to the Sudanese refugee community. This is predominantly in the form of one-on-one volunteer tutoring provided to Australian-Sudanese students aged from one to 40 years old! After humble beginnings with five students, SAIL recently celebrated its 11th birthday, with over 500 students in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Matthew completed his postgraduate degree in international refugee law at the University of Oxford, for which he received the highest mark ever awarded for the course.

Matthew completed articles and then worked in the Victorian Government Solicitors’ Office until 2007. He instructed in matters before the High Court of Australia. Matthew has acted as legal researcher, judge’s associate, and university research staff.

Matthew is a member of the Victorian bar and has practiced commercial and public law since 2005. In 2012 he acted for the plaintiffs in the Malaysia Solution case and the Commonwealth in the Ashby v Slipper case.



Gerda Evans – Breast Cancer Network Australia

Gerda EvansGerda and three of her sisters, an aunt and cousin have had breast cancer.  Gerda has represented Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) on research committees dealing with high risk families. She has a keen interest in the issues of gene patents and will be able to speak  from her personal experience and as a representative of BCNA.



Luigi Palombi - Genetic Sequence Rights Project at Australian National University

Luigi PalombiLuigi Palombi is one of Australia’s most respected and well-known patent law experts. His first major patent case was the first in Australian legal history to challenge the gene patent granted to Chiron Corporation over the hepatitis C virus. This success produced invitations to work in Europe where he was involved in successfully invalidating most of the Chiron’s HCV patent. Luigi returned to Australia in 2001to participate in the Australia Law Reform Commission’s review of gene patents and undertook a PhD at the UNSW in which he set out the legal arguments against the patentability of genes – a world first. Luigi then became a post-doctoral researcher at The Regulatory Institutes Network at ANU. Luigi played a major role in the first BRCA patent test case brought in Australia against the BRCA 1 patent and in 2011 he was recognised as one of 50 of the world’s most influential people in intellectual property. His book, Gene Cartels, first published in 2009 has been widely acclaimed. He has also made significant contributions to the first patent challenge to the BRCA patents in the United States. Luigi has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Sydney and has delivered many invited papers and lectures in patent law at international legal and scientific conferences and meetings.

Rebecca Gilsenan – Maurice Blackburn

Rebecca gilsenanRebecca is a Principal at law firm Maurice Blackburn where her practice focuses on class actions in the areas of price fixing, failed investment schemes and product liability. Rebecca also acts for Greenpeace Australia Pacific Limited and is on the boards of Guthrie House and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Rebecca has also been a contributor on legal matters with various media outlets.  In 2011, Rebecca was a weekly contributor and blogger with The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In 2012, Rebecca was a weekly contributor to Network Ten’s national morning television program Breakfast as their weekly expert on legal matters.