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Kali's Story

May 31, 2019

I moved to Melbourne from New Zealand in 2010. My family are Fijian-Indian and moving to Australia the main difference I noticed between the two societies was the lack of diversity from the Pacific region here.

 

In New Zealand, throughout all levels of society, there are brown faces. There is a strong understanding throughout NZ of the various pacific island cultures, as well as Maori culture and language. The dominant cultural narrative in Australia is white Australian. I found that change quite fascinating and a bit of an adjustment in daily life.

 

I’m really passionate about cultural change. I believe it’s vital to the forward social progression of our world. I wanted to study law and build a career in the profession as I want to work toward making a positive impact in the world and I believe law is a fundamental tool for doing so. I’ve now finished my double degree, as well as an honours thesis. I studied full time for five and a half years whilst raising my young son and surviving some substantial personal setbacks. I want to be a positive example for him and to show him that despite life being unpredictable, great things can be achieved.

 

I’m inspired by women who have built successful careers in the legal profession, particularly as it is such a traditionally male dominated space. I have met so many incredible women who run teams and balance their drive to succeed with compassion and respect for others. Women are now leaders in the legal profession, succeeding whilst also balancing raising children and navigating an entirely different set of obstacles to their male counterparts

 

I applied to DWMA in 2017 as I’ve seen first hand the effects of unconscious, as well as blatant bias, and I believe that organisations such as DWMA are essential if we want to level the playing field. I wanted to be involved in DWMA because I believe in their vision. Women are underrepresented in the upper echelons of many professions, law being no exception, despite representing a higher number of graduates and, in my experience, being incredibly intelligent and hardworking. I’ve read articles and studies that show that our ability to have children means we are less likely to be hired. I think being a mother is an asset, I have more balance in my life, am more efficient and able to manage my time more effectively. I hope that the narrative starts to shift and these qualities are recognised as positive attributes in the legal profession.

 

I also feel like despite much lip service being paid to encouraging diversity, many organisations fail to effectively implement these strategies which results in a homogenous working culture. I think tha

t in hiring people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, working environments are significantly enriched. Our diverse backgrounds and experiences enable us to better relate to our clients, and our coworkers, and provide unique perspectives in our work. I believe organisations such as DWMA and the work they do are fundamental to driving these vital culture shifts, and essentially progressing society in a positive direction.

 

In my 18 months of involvement with DWMA I have attended a number of their events, as well as have been involved in their mentoring program. Being a mentee has helped me to think outside the box in terms of the direction of my career. It has helped reinforce for me that there doesn’t have to be one typical route, that there are so many pathways to building a rewarding and successful career, and making a positive contribution to the profession.

 

I have also participated in a court observation with DWMA which included an informal discussion with the judges afterward. It was incredible hearing the various paths that they each took, and the varied backgrounds from which they came. This event really reinforced for me why I wanted to pursue a career in law.

 

My involvement with DWMA has helped me to feel more connected and more part of a community of hardworking, interesting and driven women. I really believe the organisation is essential and all of the events I’ve been involved in have been invaluable. I think it is wonderful that DWMA is working so hard to facilitate and encourage more diversity in professional fields and am excited to continue being involved with them in the future.

 

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