My name is Randa Rafiq. I hold an LLB With Honours, an MBA and a BA. My Honours Thesis was titled ‘The Rocky Road to Legal Pluralism’. The focus of the thesis was Islamic Family Law and Divorce in Australia and proposes a model for reform based on case studies in Canada and the UK.
I have twenty years of experience working in the Higher Education Sector ranging from Exchange and Study Abroad Adviser, to Business Development Manager and Clinical and Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator. Most recently I commenced working in the Community Legal Sector as a Quality and Improvements Coordinator.
In my spare time I enjoy volunteering. I have been a volunteer paralegal at Whittlesea Community Legal Service for 8 years and served on the Board at Whittlesea Community Connections from 2016 to 2018. In 2017 I served on Mill Park Secondary College’s Engagement and Well-being Committee and I have I am currently serving on School Council at Mill Park Secondary College, a role I commenced in February 2018.
In addition to my career and voluntary roles I am a mother of three boys aged 14, 10 and 7. My children are actively involved in extra-curricular activities at school and within the local community. Their interests include soccer, basketball, piano, productions, debating and serving as student representative councillors at their respective schools.
My family (both immediate and extended) inspire me to be the best that I can be. They provide me with unconditional support which has allowed me to pursue a career in the legal sector and to volunteer as well. I am inspired most by those in my professional and personal life who offer their time and kindness to others in need.
Challenges I have faced include finding meaningful and flexible opportunities in the law as a mature age student and Muslim hijab wearing woman. Since choosing to cover I have experienced discrimination and verbal assault first hand in the presence of my children. I have slowly but surely taken steps to overcome these fears and I feel privileged to be entering the profession at a time when much work is being done to increase gender and cultural diversity. I look forward to being a role model to all women, particularly Muslims. I also endeavour to continue volunteering to causes that can make a difference in people’s lives.
My Journey with DWMA
DWMA offered opportunities that were flexible, varied and suitable for someone like me juggling parenting, work and studies.
In 2017 I participated in the Supreme Court Observation Day where we had the privilege of meeting and speaking directly with the three Judges presiding over the appeal. The Judges were very receptive to questions asked and provided us with some insight into their journey in the legal profession.
In 2018 I was fortunate enough to participate in the Mentoring program and an Internship in the Commercial Division Judicial Registrars. Most recently (January 2019) I had the pleasure of taking part in the VicBar Shadowing Program where I sat through a number of different family law matters. Matters ranged from a week-long trial of two related cases, a mediation regarding parenting orders and a property settlement; a directions hearing/parenting order dispute; and a matter where the ICL I was shadowing acted for the children.
Without the resources and opportunities provided by DWMA I would not be aware of the vast array of roles each professional in the legal system plays, the diverse employment options available and the many intersecting areas of law in each field of law. My experiences have enabled me to meet a range of legal professional ranging from Judges to Registrars, barristers, solicitors, Independent Children’s Lawyers, Associates and my wonderful mentor. I have been recommending DWMA to peers and friends entering the law since first having the pleasure of DWMA’s programs. I am so impressed by DWMA’s work that I hope to be able to contribute to DWMA for future mentees.
My mentor provided me with professional advice and guidance from the outset. Following the first meeting with Emma I was inspired to apply for internships and other legal opportunities. My confidence and energy to pursue opportunities in the law have continued to grow as a result of my mentor sessions. I also reprioritised commitments to ensure I could take up as many relevant opportunities such as: the Internship at the County Court, and the VicBar Shadowing Program. As a result of these programs I have been able to identify gaps are in my legal education and gain a clearer pathway moving forward.
DWMA bridges valuable and flexible opportunities that link diverse women to the legal profession. As a working mother and student I found this connecting to the profession difficult due to time commitments and for fear of discrimination. DWMA’s flexible and short internships provide a great introduction to the legal profession particularly for working mothers like me. These opportunities not only create employment prospects for mentees/interns, but also provides prospective employers with the next generation of diverse women who have much to contribute to the profession. DWMA has given my career a kick start, my confidence has gone from strength to strength and I am re-energised about the future. In time I intend to pay it forward and I cannot be more thankful to all of those involved in making DWMA’s programs such a success.