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|Sydney Launch Report|
By Sarah Rey
On Monday 1 May, AAWI was launched in Sydney at a venue called Verandah.
Sarah Rey, Co-Convenor, outlined the history (California/US and jump to Australia), purpose, and objectives of the association.
Jane Seymour, lecturer, barrister and recently appointed to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, spoke about the benefits of being part of a larger American association with deep experience of both running such an association and meeting the needs of its members in a mature and challenging sector. She highlighted her attendance at a previous conference and urged attendance at the US October conference, and the institutes. She reiterated the importance of obtaining support through gathering in groups, “communities of practice”, and that self-care was assisted and helped with the sustainability of one’s practice through networking with people in the same profession. She also pointed out that in the US employers and organisations were influenced in their decision making about the choice of investigators by their involvement with AAWI. We made clear however that AAWI was not at the stage of accrediting investigators.
Sarah then introduced Elizabeth Devine, the newly appointed convenor of the first Sydney local circle. Jason Clark was introduced as a further support in NSW, given his firm’s (Worklogic) overall support for the organisation. Attendees were encouraged to become members, bring their colleagues to a Circle meeting to experience the format, and attend the Australian conference later in the year. Sarah made the point that the US association worked very collegially, and members were very willing to share information within the network and we were seeking to foster this in Australia.
Attendees stayed until the end – from 6 – 830pm. They seemed very enthusiastic, indicating there was a need at this point in time for this type of support and leadership. Attendees were both lawyers and non-lawyers and worked in workplace, fraud, child protection, conflict coaching. The lawyers were solo practitioners, former barristers, lawyers from big firms, and students in Jane’s University of Sydney course. I believe there has been a jump in membership numbers over the last few days.
We had 36 RSVPs, however, ten people did not show, of whom 9 had pre-paid. The only regret is perhaps not having kept the entry price a little lower, which might have resulted in attracting a few more people. We gained coverage about this event in the Lawyers Weekly, NSW Law Society Gazette, Resolution Institute and the Institute of Private Practising Psychologists.