A key role of Australian Women Lawyers is to drive and promote the adoption of, or change to, national policy that relates to its objects.

AWL’s policy work is largely reflected on our NEWS page.

View key resources below:

AWL Submission to AHRC Inquiry into Sexual Harassment
WLAACT Junior Pay and Conditions Survey 2013
WLASA Pregnancy and Return to Work Submission
WLAWA Survey of the Profession 2014
WLANSW Paid Parental Leave Submission 2013
WLANSW Pregnancy and Return to Work Submission

AWL does this through a variety of avenues including (but not limited to):

  • Hosting its bienniel National Conference
  • Making submissions to key law reform bodies and committees
  • Hosting its bienniel National Conference Making submissions to key law reform bodies and committees Making submissions to State and Territory Law and Bar Associations
  • Commenting in the media
  • Partnering with key stakeholders in the development of policies, charters and resources
  • Representating AWL on national Boards, committees and working groups
  • Promoting education through professional development and networking events

Current Policy Issues

The following represent the most recent policy issues of interest to AWL and its State and Territory Associations:

Religious Discrimination Bill

Federal Court appointments in Vic

  • Amazing female talent at senior level but is not translating at the bench level – if gender balance were considered, the outcome on the Victorian federal court would be different – this is a public perception issue

    Men dominate Federal Court appointments under Porter

  • Various – IWD LW feature

Sexual harassment (as a voting issue)

  • Sustained campaigns from AWL and the Law Council of Australia in tackling workplace harassment and profession-wide attrition have “had an effect” but cultural change still needed

    Lawyers more concerned with sexual harassment as a voting issue than other professions

  • Portrait of Heydon in the HCA

Equitable Briefing

    • Law Council says it has reached a milestone of more than 3 in 10 briefs going to women barristers in 2020
    • Pleasing to see, but issue of proportion of fees not being met
    • Briefing women is one matter, what they are paid is another

    The next big challenge for equitable briefing

20 weeks of leave, bringing Dad and Partner Pay together with Parental Leave Pay (PLP)

  • While men/‘non-birth parents and single parents can now take more of the leave pool on offer, which is welcome, there is no additional leave overall. As the pay is still at the minimum wage there is less incentive for many men who, particularly due to the gender pay gap, are often the higher income earner in the relationship.

    Budget 2022: Which lawyers benefit from paid parental leave changes?

Diversity in judicial appointments

    • Australian judiciary also needs to represent entire community
    • Currently the judiciary in Australia is a long way off reflecting the cultural diversity of community
    • Judges are expected to make decisions with the attitudes and expectations of the community in mind so it is important to have people with diverse experiences of life in the bench

    Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation a ‘catalyst for opportunity’ in Australia

Urging Incoming Govt to shift focus

  • Release of key priorities for 2022 election
    The key priorities are:

    • to implement the balance of the Respect@Work recommendations
    • give access to free or low-cost childcare
    • a greater intake of refugees, particularly women from Afghanistan fleeing persecution based on their gender
    • the creation of a judicial conduct commission and a strong independent commission against corruption
    • greater support for First Nations Australians;
    • greater focus on addressing climate change and the gendered effects of it.

    ‘Australia can, and should, do more’: AWL urges incoming government to shift its focus

    Australian Women Lawyers election priorities – Media Release

Comments by Morrison that NSW ICAC is a ‘kangaroo court’

  • AWL ‘fully supports’ the Australian Bar Association’s rebuke of Morrison and defending ICAC, seeks creation of national body

    ‘Entirely inappropriate’: Legal orgs continue to hit back at PM

FDV leave

  • AWL welcomed paid FDV leave but AWL also presses for full implementation of all 55 recommendations in Respect@Work

    FDV leave means massive Fair Work reforms

  • Gender Pay Gap

Meeting with Attorney General

  • In August 2022 President Leah Marrone with the Attorney General Mark Dreyfus QC to discuss a large number of policy and law reform initiatives, in particular discrimination law reform and moving further from Respect@Work recommendations to ensure access to justice for those who want to access discrimination law and other discrimination law reform such as to the use of non-disclosure agreements.

Super on parental leave campaign

  • AWL is working with a number of organisations on a lobbying campaign to get Superannuation paid on Parental Leave

Best Practice Policies