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An initiative to offer free legal assistance to patients of The Royal Women's Hospital.

Elegant masks, gorgeous gowns and live music were all on a dazzling show at the recent Law Institute of Victoria’s (LIV) 2017 Young Lawyers’ Charity Ball held at Melbourne’s Sheraton Hotel.

Sponsored by Deakin Law School (DLS) and Gatehouse Legal Recruitment, the sold-out 20 October event attracted a sparkling crowd of 220 young lawyers, legal professionals, academics and law students.

President of LIV Young Lawyers and DLS alumnus Phoebe Blank said the event was an outstanding success which, importantly, raised money for a health justice project initiated by The Royal Women's Hospital and the Inner Melbourne Community Legal.

‘The “Acting on the Warning Signs” is the first project of its kind in a major, metropolitan hospital in Australia. Through this partnership, Inner Melbourne Community Legal Centre lawyers offer free legal assistance to inpatients and outpatients of the hospital,’ she said.

CEO of the Inner Melbourne Community Legal Centre, Daniel Stubbs, said that the on-site legal service is complemented with training for front-line health professionals to identify and respond to patients suffering from family violence.

‘Having lawyers on-site is so important to help break the cycle of domestic violence. Often the first time the victim leaves a violent situation is to be treated for injuries. In this way, victims are treated for their injuries and able to speak with a lawyer at the same time while they are removed from the situation.’

Delivering an address in her role as president, Phoebe (who is a workplace relations lawyer with TressCox Lawyers) thanked the charity for its work and referred to the statistics that show, on average, at least one woman is killed by her partner or former partner each week in Australia.

‘The issue of domestic violence is very much alive and we, as lawyers, have the ability to change this statistic by creating awareness and supporting or engaging in these health-justice initiatives,’ she said.

Deakin academics Professor Samantha Hepburn, Dr Neera Bhatia, Dr Marilyn McMahon and Ms Zehra Gulay Kavame Eroglu also attended and Prof. Hepburn said it was a pleasure to see how many of her past students had worked hard to achieve wonderful career outcomes.

‘As a legal academic, I find great inspiration in this. I have always believed that it is such a privilege to have the opportunity to teach and hopefully inspire young law students and attending events such as the Charity Ball allowed me to truly appreciate the impact that a strong legal education can have.’

In a short address, Prof. Hepburn encouraged attendees to use their legal education ‘to go forward, take risks, and strive for new initiatives’. 

Reflecting on the evening, she said it was a wonderful opportunity to dress up and catch up with Deakin Law School alumni while also supporting a very important project.

‘The health and justice project initiative seeks to link legal and health professions in responding to a range of concerns including domestic violence. We know that domestic violence is now the third largest contributor to homelessness.’

Entertainment for the ball was provided by Melbourne band ‘Get Set’ who delivered an eclectic range of pop, rock, punk, funk, blues, jazz, dance and disco music ensuring a full dance floor until the end.

As a proud member of the DLS alumni, Phoebe said the LIV Young Lawyers group was grateful for the school’s support.

‘I would like to sincerely thank DLS for sponsoring this incredible event and contributing to a very important cause. It is so important for young lawyers to know they can make a difference and be a part of all the initiatives that the LIV has to offer. We hope that all young lawyers are able to get involved in the LIV committees and projects.’ 

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Photographs by David Johns.