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Reflections on the movie, “Charlie St Cloud”

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Reader Ant has asked me to post my thoughts about the movie, “Charlie St Cloud” (which she liked), but tied my hands somewhat by saying that “you have to be nice (because it’s my birthday).” So here goes.

SPOILER ALERT – don’t read this if you’re yet to see the film & you don’t want to laugh loudly during the sad or romantic bits. You might get elbowed in the ribs & spill your popcorn, which would be a waste.

In short, the main character, Charlie (Efron), is devastated by his younger brother’s untimely demise. Minutes before the car accident, the brothers had made a pact of sorts, to meet every day at sunset and practise catching ball in the woods, so that younger brother, Sam (Tahan) can grow up to play serious baseball. Both die in the accident, but Florio, the paramedic (Liotta) brings Charlie back from a flatline. Charlie indefinitely defers the college sailing scholarship to work at the graveyard so that he can keep his promise to his brother. Years later, Charlie encounters the paramedic, who himself is dying of cancer. The paramedic tells Charlie that he was brought back by God for a reason and that he had to find it – the second chance story. Helpfully, this coincides with a damsel-in-distress story with the introduction of sailor-girl, Tess (Crew), who gets herself lost and near-death at sea.

This movie has some lovely moments and the cinematography is great. In all, I think it’ll appeal to teenagers and those looking for the second chance, live-every-moment moral. Zac Efron fans will be beside themselves when he takes his shirt off.

However, older viewers who might see past this (or not) may well be wondering:
(a) the girl’s deceased father mightn’t like what she’s doing in the cemetery with Charlie;
(b) whether it’s too much like cutting and pasting the kid from “Sixth Sense” and the gooey bits from “Ghost”, rolling it together and smoking it; and
(c) if your subconscious can go off by itself without your knowledge or consent and have intercourse with someone in a cemetery and form “a memory, not a dream” (Charlie), dating just got a whole lot more confusing.

To its credit, the movie raised issues of survivor guilt, grief and moving on in a way that is accessible to all viewers. I wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone who’s lost a loved one recently, or been in a major vehicle accident any time in the last few years, for fear of exacerbating post-traumatic stress disorder. I also wouldn’t recommend it for young teens (or tweens).

Will the film smudge your mascara? Depends. That’s the odd thing about this movie. I went with a large group of mothers – and by rights, we all should’ve been passing the Kleenex, but we weren’t – some were, most weren’t. Even I cry in kids movies (“Up” and “Toy Story 3”, most recently), but I was too busy trying to decide what it was that prevented me from suspending my disbelief in this story.

The relationship between Charlie and Rachel was flat until they rolled around in the cemetery – but wait, they didn’t – so he saved her anyway and they went back to being flat but sailing off into the sunset (promising) all because of a little poem by ee cummings about taking risks. Maybe it was some of the corny lines – like the one which should’ve been the most powerful, when Sam was moving from being in-between to moving on (to Heaven) but asked his still living brother whether he promises that they’ll “be brothers forever – you promise?” (because you broke your last promise about meeting me here at sunset and playing ball since you went out looking for that sailor-girl, so I had to think of a promise you could actually keep….)

But hey, if the film makes people Google ee cummings, take up sailing (safely), move on from grief, have a cleansing cry, then it’s okay by me. It pulls at the heartstrings, for some more than others and in all, will probably be loved by more people than reviewers will give it credit for – so go watch it and decide for yourself.

[And happy birthday, Ant!]

Thought of the day …

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I love the Italian proverb on these gorgeous little ice cream cups: After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box. Says a lot.

What I loved even more was the ice cream itself. Miss Six had American Chocolate – which we all enjoyed. I had Pistachio – which we all enjoyed. Miss Nine finished her Carmel & Hazelnut Gelato before I could introduce her to the joys of taxation (‘Mama Tax’).

Have a great Friday! If it’s not so great, ice cream helps….

Curly Question: Explain this to a nine year old girl

September 10, 2010 2 comments

Here’s a curly question for your Friday cup of coffee…. How do you explain this advertisement to nine and six year old girls, who happen to pick it up in the mailbox? It was the back cover of a new free mag distributed around Brisbane last week, called Brisbane’s River Wrap Magazine.

Arty, but too much?

The female actor has purple bruises on her face and upper body, suggesting strangulation… The man looks like he forgot to attend a few rehab appointments and didn’t make the cut for MasterChef – or is he advertising kitchen knives? (“Look Mummy, he has the same knife as you…” Hmmm). Or, could this be the cover of the new Spring-Summer catalogue for Relationships Australia?

Sex with knives doesn’t belong on the back cover of a free family magazine. We didn’t ask for it to be in our letterbox.

Thank you so much, Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government for putting funding towards this – maybe you could have some guidelines on how grants-funded projects use the money in appropriate promotions? Just sayin’.

Review: Scrambled Egg

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Rarely does one use the word “delightful” these days without sounding twee, however, this book is delightful – and that’s a good thing. Children deserve stories that are uplifting. We’re getting a bit bored with eco-anxiety and parents-are-envirovandals type stories. Story-telling should be about story-telling; heavy moralising belongs elsewhere. Why depress kids? We should be inspiring love and awe and letting kids be kids.

Scrambled Egg is a beautiful Australian book. It’s simply gorgeous to look at and a good read. It’s about stepping up to a challenge (finding the mother of the lost egg) and problem-solving with the help of good friends. As a bonus, children learn about Australian native animals and the amazing outback.

Thumbs up. (Recommended for ages 2-10).

PS. Check out Wendy’s artwork – her emus and camels will make you smile!

The world needs more nannas

September 3, 2010 3 comments

With my Nanna turning 84 today, I reflect upon some of her wisdoms and how the world needs nannas more than ever.

Nanna was born in Poland, in 1926. She immigrated to Australia over 4 decades ago, with husband and son, to start a new life in a free land, where the fruits of one’s efforts were their own reward.

Her strength and cheerfulness doesn’t betray what a hard life she’s had. Communism. Starvation. Nazism. Being taken as a child and made to work on German farms. Outliving four husbands.

Yet, she can tell me that there were good German soldiers, who left their bread crusts for Polish children who otherwise wouldn’t have eaten that day. And that Russians were a good-hearted people, with a rotten government. And that to love and lose is better than to not love at all.

She marvels at the strength of the human spirit and that the world is filled with so many good people–that when her car broke down last week, people stopped to help. She gives. She loves her family. She works hard and believes that’s the key to a good and healthy life. She’s fiercely independent, except when she’s not (and that’s what family’s for). She bakes cakes, not only for me, but for my staff, because spreading a little joy and jelly-cake never hurt anyone.

So while our self-professed educated elite demand that we look backwards and forwards in despair and wear our global guilt with useless pride, Nanna has forgiven the past without lingering in it and enjoys the beauty in everybody she meets. She buys bacon from Russians, plays Pokies with Aussies and Ukrainians and eats sauerkraut with Germans. She takes only what she needs, and gives a lot more.

Happy birthday, Nanna. Kocham Cie. Sto lat!

New study shows: People don’t like their unselfish colleagues

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Spot the flaw in the following, ground-breaking research ….

PULLMAN, Wash. — You know those goody-two-shoes who volunteer for every task and thanklessly take on the annoying details nobody else wants to deal with?

That’s right: Other people really can’t stand them.

Four separate studies led by a Washington State University social psychologist have found that unselfish workers who are the first to throw their hat in the ring are also among those that coworkers most want to, in effect, vote off the island.

“It’s not hard to find examples but we were the first to show this happens and have explanations for why,” said Craig Parks, lead author of “The Desire to Expel Unselfish Members from the Group” in the current Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The phenomenon has implications for business work groups, volunteer organizations, non-profit projects, military units, and environmental efforts, an interest of Parks’ coauthor and former PhD student, Asako Stone.

Parks and Stone found that unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they “raise the bar” for what is expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad.

It doesn’t matter that the overall welfare of the group or the task at hand is better served by someone’s unselfish behavior, Parks said.

“What is objectively good, you see as subjectively bad,” he said.

The do-gooders are also seen as deviant rule breakers. It’s as if they’re giving away Monopoly money so someone can stay in the game, irking other players to no end.

The studies gave participants—introductory psychology students—pools of points that they could keep or give up for an immediate reward of meal service vouchers. Participants were also told that giving up points would improve the group’s chance of receiving a monetary reward.

In reality, the participants were playing in fake groups of five. Most of the fictitious four would make seemingly fair swaps of one point for each voucher, but one of the four would often make lopsided exchanges—greedily giving up no points and taking a lot of vouchers, or unselfishly giving up a lot of points and taking few vouchers.

Most participants later said they would not want to work with the greedy colleague again—an expected result seen in previous studies.

But a majority of participants also said they would not want to work with the unselfish colleague again. They frequently said, “the person is making me look bad” or is breaking the rules. Occasionally, they would suspect the person had ulterior motives.

Parks said he would now like to look at how the do-gooders themselves react to being rejected. While some may indeed have ulterior motives, he said it’s more likely they actually are working for the good of an organization.

Excluded from the group, they may say, “enough already” and simply give up.

“But it’s also possible,” he said, “that they may actually try even harder.”

The study is based on the reactions of psych students!

I had to spend a whole day with a psych student once. We were on a bridal party together. She stormed out of the reception and told the bride to “have a nice life” and we still don’t know why.

Maybe the authors of the study should try it again with participants randomly selected from the wider population? Just a thought. Yikes! (In the meantime, goody-goodies, take cover!)

Why Kids Need Ballroom Dancing

August 29, 2010 4 comments

ADS Winter Festival 2010. Image courtesy of reader Liz.

I’m a recent convert to the world of ballroom. I’ll admit to having been wary of it, thinking it was Prissy With Sequins and only for people who conform–not only with strict rules of dance, but also with standardised notions of what looks beautiful in a ballgown or suit. However, I cannot underscore enough, how surprised and delighted I have been with the reality of ballroom dancing for my child, as opposed to the stereotype I’d expected.

For years, I was Jazz & Tap mum, until recently, when the work far outweighed the returns – Miss 9 fell out of love with it all. It had become about raising the status of the dance school and a lot less about the individual children and the joy of dance. Besides, no matter how hard all the children might try, there was always a back row, and every performance was a group act with one or two favourites. Add to that, the fact that the performances could be complete disasters if choreographed inappropriately (as was the case at one local eisteddfod recently, where a dance teacher thought it okay for 7 and 8 year olds to faithfully replicate one of Beyonce’s sexy music videos.)

This is not to say that other forms of dance are no good or inferior to ballroom. Professional dancers need to be across styles. Some dance schools are better than others. All styles have their place, and time-poor and cash-strapped parents have to make difficult choices. That being said, society really needs to take another look at ballroom. It’s all about socialisation (or socialization, if you’re American).

If I had my way, it’d be made compulsory in Sports & Personal Education at least in primary school (acknowledging that it might be difficult to get some high school students to do anything, let alone dance. I have sympathy for teachers.) Not everyone can give their kids private classes, so instead of more tunnel-ball and t-ball, why not a term of partnered dancing?

It’s a tragedy that whole generations of children are growing up into people who don’t know how to dance with other people, but rather, copying aggressive music videos, dance against others. Life is a fight, seems to be the message. Dance which draws inspiration from gang wars, sweaty poles and domestic violence has its own place as a form of artistic expression, but it’s concerning that it’s taking over as the only form of dance expression that many people understand. Agro is the new cool.

Ballroom has the following benefits (especially for kids):
* increased confidence, not only within themselves, but also with interacting with the opposite sex in appropriate and respectful ways;
* co-ordination (dancing opposite someone is quite complex and more difficult than dancing in formation or alone);
* opportunity to build meaningful rapport with dance partners and others in the class, because it is face to face;
* develops an appreciation for collaborative and complementary effort;
* fun (we’ve found it a lot less pressure than our last big dance school, even with exams and comps);
* having a skill for life that comes in handy for social occasions which require something other than crumping, pirouettes or jazz hands;
* can start at any age (dependent upon individual circumstances); and
* there is no back row – everyone is front and centre when performing.

Ballroom students don’t do concerts–they do medals (tests) periodically and competitions (if and when they’re ready). The great thing about the tests and comps is that parents and guests are watching them–the kids are not taken away to a locked room down a corridor to face an examiner or panel of examiners, alone. Through and through, ballroom is a collaborative effort and is inclusive rather than exclusive. After the medal tests, there’s supper and everyone gets up to dance (if they want to).

There are children (and adults) of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life. People don’t typically come with partners, in fact, most don’t. Partners are arranged for medals and comps as required, if there’s no permanent partner.

In terms of curriculum, I’d highly recommend that schools consider implementing some form of ballroom dance for the sake of the children and the society which they will grow up to lead. For parents who want to try something good for their kids – I say “give it a go.” For those on school committees – bring it up at the next meeting.

P.S. Thanks to Blair Pettard and Natalie Perry – both awesome teachers at Perry’s Superior Ballroom. Perry’s is available for in-school lessons.
[UPDATE: image removed for copyright/privacy reasons]

Please feel free to add your own comments or experiences and let us know if there’s a great ballroom dance school in your area.

[UPDATE: post edited for length & clarity. Comments regarding bullying deleted in acknowledgment of reader LD’s point that it can happen anywhere and is subjective. Furthermore, I can appreciate that with so few males dancing, finding a permanent partner for comps and being asked (or not) to tryouts is another whole world of pain.]

Check out some gorgeous pics by Brock McFadzean.

Mouse in need of a chiropractor & ALP in need of a bigger trap.

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Reader JB, sent in a picture and her experiences with this particular mousetrap…

JB writes:

Mouse eventually got caught using my home baked choc chip cookie in trap. However new fangled traps not good for an extra large mouse…very distressing night. Woke with banging and loud squeaking to find mouse had been caught by trap which was on my kitchen bench and its struggling caused trap to move along bench and off the end on to floor resulting in mouse running around my kitchen with trap on its head. Very disturbing night. Scott got it outside and released trap to allow a mouse to slowly walk off with a crooked neck! All this at midnight last week! Not good! It was an extremely large mouse though. Guess the moral of the story is to use the old fashioned traps which were not available in our Woolies though!

So, the mouse ran off with a crick neck (right-leaning) and was last seen in the marginal seat of Lilley.

All things considered, this is probably a good metaphor for the ALP’s 2010 federal election campaign — mistaking man for mouse. Julia, you’ll need a bigger trap to catch Tony and you might need reader JB’s recipe for choc chip cookies…

Last Run: Making sense of the Australian ski field tragedies

August 21, 2010 3 comments

Last Sunday week, I’d just arrived at the Snowy Mountains, to be prevented from going into the Guthega ski hire centre, by half a dozen Mountain Operations staff and a cordoned off area.

Behind the unusually stern-looking staff, was parked a black, unmarked van with no back windows. “It’ll all be over in 10 minutes,” said the young chap nearest me. But he wouldn’t say what. This was 4:30pm. Then the centre closed for the night.

We trudged uphill with our supplies, sans kids’ hire skis, wondering what that was about. Others staying at the lodge didn’t know either. Mention was made of a priest exiting the building. Someone who arrived minutes after us, noted that there was a body in the back of the van: it was the coroner’s van.

Bit by bit, we pieced together the story of the tragic death of Michael Meagher. He’d collected a tree on the last day of his skiing holiday. It had been the perfect day, sublime, in fact – clear blue skies, good snow cover and an easy run (Wombat’s). It was all wrong, that an experienced skier could die in such circumstances.

The accident had happened at about 10am and was witnessed by a poor chap who’d just bought his lift pass and was on his first trip up. He handed his ticket back and spent the day recounting his horror to police. Luckily, Meagher’s tween-age son didn’t witness the accident, but did endure the agony of watching medics trying to revive him. The family spent the rest of the day with Michael’s body in the ski hire shop. This is no way to end a family holiday.

Michael didn’t have a helmet on and it sounded like he did that run alone. It is said that he had a helmet, but chose not to wear it. It is also the opinion of at least one person who saw the aftermath, that the helmet would’ve saved him – but that’s for the coroner to decide, not an untrained casual eye – albeit one that has seen many ski field horrors. One news report says he broke his neck. What we’d heard was that it was massive head injuries.

Discussion at the lodge turned to the issue of helmet wearing – should it be compulsory? Some of us, particularly those with younger kids in ski school, chose to wear them for protection (mostly from other less-controlled or inconsiderate skiers and boarders) and to set a good example for the young ones. But, many other skilled riders chose not to and would not change their habits even in light of the tragedy on their very doorstep.

The next morning, we weren’t served by the usual young fellow at the ski hire shop. In the village-like atmosphere of Guthega, you get to know the faces over the years. Turns out, the poor young man had acquired a brain injury from a snow-boarding accident the season before and “was no longer the same person.” He didn’t have a helmet on.

Mandatory helmet wearing seems like a good idea, but as other blogs note, it could be problematic (read: expensive) to enforce. My personal view is that kids should come with lids for snow sports just as for biking, and while I’d love to see more adults wearing helmets, it ultimately comes down to personal choice and responsibility. Perhaps helmet wearers could get a discounted lift ticket – incentive rather than stick.

More enforcement of the Alpine Responsibility Code (read: fine print on your ticket) would also help to reduce many injuries (but probably wouldn’t have saved Michael – assuming it was a single person accident), but that’s hard to do when Perisher had already started letting staff go en masse after the southern states school holidays ended. In the week that I was there, I’d observed that maintenance staff were doubling up as lifties and runs weren’t being groomed daily. This is not a good thing. Thirty-odd boarding instructors had been let go. International ski instructors were told their work was ending weeks before their return flights home. (In terms of staffing, the international reputation of Perisher is on shaky ground at present). I wonder how iron-clad Perisher’s exclusion of liability clause would be, if tested. While there’s an inherent risk in the sport (as in any sport), if conditions aren’t maintained to a reasonable standard, it’s arguably reasonably foreseeable that something bad’s going to happen. Perisher is being run on a shoe-string. Maybe Jamie Packer does casinos better.

I do have issues with people wearing headphones or earphones and listening to music while they ski or board – and having them wear helmets doesn’t give them a tick in my books. Full attention on the snow and others around you, or GET OFF THE MOUNTAIN. In fact, more injuries happen through collisions with others than through collisions with inanimate objects. (It’s just that trees are deadlier). Cocky, inexperienced people who ride beyond their means are particularly dangerous. We met several victims in the medical centre this year, who’d been run into and injured by others. The medical centre easily sees 20 knee injuries a day, according to staff, and that’s a happy day when there’s nothing more serious than torn ligaments and broken limbs.

We take risks in life, and sometimes they backfire. On the snow, however, the circumstances are less forgiving. Freak accidents can happen anywhere and to anyone, but there are certainly steps that can be taken to reduce their likelihood.

What the news reports don’t explain clearly enough, is that the deadly collision-type accidents tend to involve great speed and going off groomed tracks. The other ski field tragedies tend to involve young people not respecting their surrounds. Being invincible at 20-something after a night at the pub with not-enough-clothes-on, becomes the next day’s headlines. While I won’t speculate that this is what happened this week at Mt Buller (because again, it’s for the coroner), it’s happened enough times that it’s tediously predictable. Have fun, but don’t go stupid.

Similarly, clueless people of any age, going hiking in the snow (disregarding blizzard predictions) invites questions of what did they think they were doing? And don’t they give a hoot about risking the lives of others who have to go looking for them? Soon before our snow trip, some hikers nearly died on the mountain when they became lost overnight. Unfortunately, after being rescued, they, in their infinite selfishness, decided to go out and look for their gear and got themselves lost a second time – needing to be found, again. I hope they’re charged the full amount of whatever it cost for the two search parties – they owe their lives twice over, plus some.

This week, Bill Findlay, a retired Macquarie Uni administrator, was reported to have died of a heart attack during a cross country skiing competition, in the Perisher resort (Guthega is a part of Perisher). While being a dreadful loss to his family and friends, I can’t say that this is a ski field tragedy as such, although it has been reported that way. Presumably, the poor man could’ve had a heart attack anywhere. He didn’t die of exposure or collision.

In Guthega, we’d noticed that a black Holden ute had been parked in a no parking area outside the ski hire shop, in the day-parking area for the whole week. In fact, other lodge members noted with concern that it had been there the previous week also and had not been moved. Snow was piled on top of it and no-one knew who it belonged to. In light of the cross country skiers going missing and Meagher’s death, people in Guthega were becoming increasingly concerned. The owner of the vehicle didn’t think to put a note on the dashboard with a mobile phone number or the name of the lodge she was staying at. It was only when word spread that the vehicle was going to be towed that somehow, the owner emerged. It was a person who should’ve known better, someone who worked in the resort, but clearly didn’t have much consideration for other people who not only missed out on parking there for two full weeks, but also who were wondering whether to send out a search party and where to start looking.

The snow is a place which demands some respect and common sense. Mindfulness of the surrounds and consideration for others goes a long way towards keeping safe. Beyond that, there’s a certain element of luck that can be present or absent on even the most glorious of days.

The mantra on the mountain ought to be: “make it a GREAT run, not the last run”. Because, we just never know.

RIP Michael Meaghaer, Bill Findlay and others tragically lost on the ski fields and condolences to the families and friends.

N.B. I took the photograph of the ski patrol assisting an injured patron. It was one of 5 accidents I saw that day, but didn’t in any way relate to the persons named in this story.

Unequal Partners? Women in the legal profession.

August 5, 2010 9 comments

People ask me why I left the legal profession. Depending on how much time they have, one response is that the hours weren’t compatible with life, let alone a family life. I’d worked in the very smallest of law firms, to the very largest (and even tried the Public Service) and uniformly found, that commitment to the legal life was an all-or-nothing proposition. What’s more, there were grinding inequalities which came with the territory, but which we dared not speak of.

My generation of women–those who graduated during Keating’s “recession we had to have” of the early 1990s, were just so happy to have a job. Yes, we graduated with those purple and green stickers that declared “Women can do anything”, but to us, it seemed a silly statement of the obvious. Of course, we were only in that fortunate frame of mind because of the work of generations of women before us, who’d made equality an expectation, not an aspiration. However, the expectation was not only to be allowed into the profession (that happened well over 100 years ago, in Australia), but extended to equality of participation, including progress on merit. Management theories for years supposed that having increasing numbers of women in the profession would iron out any inequalities and change the profession. However, what would seem to be the case, is that women have taken on and adapted to the environment, rather than changed it. The end result is that lots of women go into the profession, and are churned back out, with broken hearts and ambitions unfulfilled.

This is not at all about man-bashing. I’m rather fond of men. I could do a Tony Abbott speech and say I even married one, and have several other men in my family. But on a serious note, there is a very specific and ingrained culture in the legal profession, that still treats women as second-best, and pays accordingly.

Some things which women lawyers have indicated to me over the years, in confidence, include, for example:
* In the 1990s, if a woman wore trousers instead of a skirt to court, a male judge might say “I cannot see you.” I made this mistake once, because as a (then) construction lawyer, who could be called out for site inspections, trouser suits seemed sensible.
* In the 1990s, if a woman wrote down “Ms” instead of “Miss” or “Mrs” on the appearance slip in court, a male judge might say, “I cannot hear you.” I made this mistake once, also.
* Blokes get to walk in front and not carry a thing. Women walk three steps behind, carrying the folders or pushing the trolleys to court. This is not just a seniority thing. A woman lawyer could do all the work on the file, but then when a corporate representative of the client was due to come to court to watch the progress of the matter, the woman would be told not to speak with the client, not to take any credit for work done, and to walk three steps behind all the men. The women doing all the work on the matter could also be overlooked for the celebrations afterward, so that the bloke who was being groomed for promotion, could step in and take all credit.
* Blokes in charge of junior female lawyers have been known to cross off time from their underling’s timesheets and transfer it to their own, to make budget and get that next promotion. Women couldn’t do much about it, for fear of being branded troublesome and losing their jobs. Where the pressure to make billable hours is so great, there are sometimes bad eggs to be found.
* There were so many female graduates in my time and subsequently, that we were seen as easily replaceable. (Too many new law schools opened up after I graduated, creating a glut). We were routinely told that we were less valuable than the secretaries, and that if we upset the secretaries for any reason, we’d be fired. Apparently, some secretaries had a devilishly good time with this.
* Women were mostly called upon to do the unbillable work in the firm, while blokes got the plum files.
* Part-time work after children was a no-go zone, even in some parts of the Public Service: “In or Out” was the mantra.

Dr Geraldine Neal has produced an exceptional and brave thesis about the state of gender equality in the Queensland legal profession. She graduated with a PhD in Law from Griffith University, last week–a big congratulations to her. Take a look:

Unequal Partners? Women in the legal profession thesis.

Graduate Careers Australia (GCA), has recently published research indicating that in 2009, the average entry level salary for male law graduates was A$53,000 whereas the female equivalent was A$48,600: an 8% difference. But why, for graduates with equal inexperience?

Across the board, female grads under 25 were paid 3% less than male, but the disparity was 8% for lawyers. Oddly, the situation seems to be worsening recently – in 2008, the gap for young lawyers was only 2%. The statistics include people who are not working in law firms, but remain in the legal industry, so it’s not just big, bad law firms: the industry itself is inequitable. (GCA material was sourced, with thanks, from RollOnFriday.)

This weekend (starting Friday), the Third Annual Australian Women Lawyers conference is on in Brisbane, with a fabulous line-up of speakers. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend it, as I’ll be out on the Australian ski fields, however, I do wish all participants well, and hope that gentle and deliberate progress is made … in the name of genuine equity.

*****************
N.B.
1. The examples cited above are generic and do not relate to any specific instances, firms or judges. Practices which were common and accepted in the past are not necessarily so common or accepted now, but some of the underlying issues linger.
2. I remain passionate and positive about the law, equality and justice, even though I choose not to practice as a solicitor. I have no regrets about my experiences, no axe to grind and no David Jones-type claim to make. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and I’m proud of the achievements of all women. They all have the potential to make the world a better place for the next generation, including my own daughters (who show great aptitude for heated debate, at the tender ages of 6 and 9. I fear they may become litigators).
3. I have a PhD in Philosophy, undergoing examination. Wish me well.
4. My novel, about gutsy women lawyers, no less, is being lovingly (with loving, comes loathing) edited for a big publishing house. I wish it would edit itself. The publisher thinks the original working title of “Six Minutes” (in honour of the terrible timesheet) sounds too thriller-ish. I’m open to comments from the floor – should I change it to “Law Life”, “Every Six Minutes” or keep “Six Minutes” because it’s enough to make any lawyer’s blood flow backwards (for enough time to pick up the book and check out its contents…)? Wish me luck. It’s about time the Brisbane legal scene was written about.